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Vacation Time Off

Many people underestimate the power and necessity of vacations and time away from our daily grind. Believe me, as someone who normally does not take much time off work (mainly because I don’t like to deal with the mountain of work waiting for me when I get back) even I know how necessary and crucial it is to have some time to recharge the batteries.

Many of us take time off but continue to work during our “vacation.” I am guilty of it, I don’t remember the last time I had time off and didn’t respond to some emails and update a few spreadsheets. This year, for the first time ever in my professional career, I took a vacation and did not reply to a single work email or worked on any of my ongoing projects. Let me tell you, it was one of the best things I have ever done for myself and mental health. In order to get the full effect of our time off, we have to really take time off and concentrate on the reason why we are away from our daily work. Whether you actually go away somewhere or just enjoy a nice staycation, the key is to understand why you are using your paid time off. You worked to earn those vacation days, why use them to continue working?

I used to come back from vacation feeling more tired than before I left. I know many of you feel the same exact way. The reason is because we never gave our brains any time to recharge and unwind. While we may be rested physically, our mind never took any time off and the stress really didn’t allow us to fully enjoy our time away. So, if you are planning a vacation I advise you to give this a try. Put your auto reply on your email letting everyone know that you will respond and take care of any issues when you return to the office. Do not work on any ongoing projects and do not volunteer to sit in on any meetings. Even though you are an important part of the team and company, things will still operate without you there for the short period of time you are gone. Trust me, unless you work at your own company where you are the only employee, there are trusted co-workers that can take care of urgent issues for you. After all, teamwork makes the dream work!

What worked for me during this recent vacation was to make sure to get everything I could possibly get done, done before I left. Anything that was ongoing or could be handled by a co-worker, I made sure was ready for them without too much extra effort. Everything else could wait until I returned. I recommend turning notifications off on your phone for any work related applications. That will ensure you aren’t tempted to answer one little email. We all know what happens, we check one email and the next thing you know you are 4 hours in answering all the emails and taking care of little tasks that can wait until next week.

By now, you get what I am trying to say. As someone who has never once not worked on a vacation, I decided to make a change this year and let me tell you today is my first day back and I feel so energized about catching up. I don’t feel stressed but feel excited to get all these tasks finished. Now I know there are some of you that will read this and you made the choice to never work on vacation, and this may not pertain to you, but let me tell you for every person that doesn’t work on vacation there are 10 people that do. Try it once and I promise you will never go back. Remember, you earned those days off so make sure you use them!