Where did vacation go?

By: Steph Schroeder

Feel like you've been working like a dog? Time for some R&R.

Feel like you’ve been working like a dog? Time for some R&R.

Are you dreaming of loading up the ol’ family truckster and heading to Wally World with the family? Apparently, July is the most popular month for Americans to travel. Kids are out of school and the summer fun proves irresistible. But can you take time off work?

Having trouble taking time off is not a first world problem; it’s exclusively an American one. Did you know that 40% of American workers will leave paid vacation time unused? That’s a whole lot of unrelieved stress and a whole lot of unbalance between work and life.

 If you’re one of those 40%, I urge you to reconsider. While the badge of hard work may pay off in the short term, studies show that productivity at work and quality of life both increase significantly with a little R&R from time to time.

June, July, and August are always busy travel months and so are late November and all of December. Those summer months are ripe with family adventures and those late winter ones…well, let’s just say, people need to use up that paid time off before they lose it! If you’re considering a vacation/staycation or two, plan early! Your colleagues may all have the same idea.

Know what projects you have lined up each quarter and where your workload will be most hefty during those assignments or endeavors. As IT professionals, I know, realistically, that things don’t always play out according to their initial projected timelines. However, take your best guess based on previous experience. If you’re new to an environment, check with the group leader about the best times to take a break. You may be in a setting in which several long weekends are better than a week here or there.

Find out if seniority plays a hand or if paid time off is simply on a first come first serve basis. Don’t wait until the last minute to request time off during those peak travel seasons. What is it they say? Proper Planning Prevents Poor Vacation? You get the point. If you’re more flexible with your vacation time, maybe take a week in the first quarter or early fall when travel and hotel rates are lower. If you have kids and you don’t want to pull them out of school for vacation, make sure you put your requests in early. You don’t get those moments back so take advantage while you can.

When all is said and done, taking care of you is an important priority both for your happiness and your employer’s satisfaction with your performance. Get that vacation on the books!