7 Ways To Enjoy Guilt-Free Time Off

Time off is one of those things that has gotten a bad reputation.  Companies give you time off, but some will look down on you for using it.  Many people freely admit that they avoid taking all of their time off for fear of being seen as lazy or dispensable.

I try not to feel guilty about using my time off.  I feel that if the company gives employees time off, they are counting on you using it.  If companies actually give employees hassle about using it, then it seems silly to even be working for that company in the first place.

There are some tips you can follow so that you can take your time off without feeling guilty about it.

  1. Know your company / department – Taking a week off shouldn’t be a problem, but if you plan on taking more than that off at one time, you should make sure your company and department can handle that.  Most tasks can be put off a week or so, but if you’re handling important things that can’t be shifted around, it will start making people nervous if they get put off for too long.
  2. Get ahead of the game before you leave – If you’re heading out for a week, try to get some of the things you would normally do done before you leave.
  3. Transfer any responsibilities that have to be done – If there are things that need to get done that you have to transfer to someone else, make sure they understand completely what is being done.
  4. Send out a ‘reminder’ e-mail to anybody doing your work – If you ask someone else to do something, they agree to do it, and it doesn’t get done, guess who gets the blame?  You.  This can often be avoided by sending out an e-mail a couple of days before you leave.  A simple “Just want to confirm that you will be doing such and such task next week while I’m gone.  If you have any questions, please let me know before Friday afternoon.  Thanks so much!”  Copy your boss.  Trust me, the work will get done.
  5. Make sure to update your calendar, voice-mail, and out of office reply.  This should need no further explanation.
  6. Make sure to remind your boss that you’ll be off– If you plan your time off for July back in March and your boss approves it, that gives him/her four months to forget all about it.  Dropping by a few days before your time off saying ‘Hey, just a reminder that I’m off next week, do you need anything from me?’ can often avoid a messy situation for your boss (that will then unavoidably transfer to you).
  7. Follow up when you get back – The morning you get back you should run through your voice mails and e-mails, responding to anything urgent, and you should also stop by your bosses office (as well as any colleagues who were handling your tasks).  No matter how best you prepare, things will often blow up while you’re gone, and the best thing you can do is put out any fires as quickly as you can.

Do these things and you shouldn’t feel guilty about taking time off.

Any other tips you have to ensure relaxing time away?  Have you had any time-off horror stories?

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6 thoughts on “7 Ways To Enjoy Guilt-Free Time Off

  1. I am really bad about relaxing and taking time off (I am what you call an evolving workaholic:)). When I take time off from my full-time job, it generally means I work on my blog and writing! Always something. But I am trying to change this and have had some luck without losing quality of my work.

  2. What a great post, and great advice to follow. Transferring responsibilities through turnover notes is something that many (myself included) neglect to do properly, in all the rush to take off and get last minute tasks done.
    I do try to come in very early on the first day back to answer all (well, most) messages and emails, before the craziness and rush begin in earnest.

  3. When I take time off, I do pretty much everything you've listed. I try to talk to my co-workers and supervisor when planning vacations to make sure that there will be some coverage, especially during peak holiday times (summertime, Thanksgiving, etc). I also make sure that there is back-up for certain aspects of my job, particularly for the elements that are time sensitive. If someone contacts me for information right before I go on vacation, and I know that getting the information will take a few days, I reply (in writing) that I will be on vacation and will get to it upon my return. Then I add it to my back-from-vacation to do list.

    Other than that, I just don't think about work while I'm on vacation. It's time I've earned–I'm going to take it!

  4. You need to know if you are expected to check messages even on vacation. Also you have to accept that you might not be able to "leave" for vacation until your work is complete.

    I left at 7pm on Christmas Eve because I was going on vacation and if I did not finish up what I was doing, I would have to come back the day after Christmas.

  5. @Amanda & Jana – I struggle to relax as well but have found it easier to unwind as I get older. taking a break from it all is definitely needed!

    @101 – I'm the same way, I have to dedicate time to clean up my e-mail because that actually allows me to start getting back some sense of normal. I'll even block a few hours off for the first day back if I know it's going to be bad, just so I don't get pulled into meetings right away (which I probably wouldn't know what was going on anyways, since I hadn't gotten to my email *lol*)

    @Super – Christmas Eve til 7pm, that's harsh, but you gotta do what you gotta do!

  6. I really think we are bad at leisure time in America! You should be able to go on your earned vacation without feeling guilty or checking in.

    The good thing about cruises, is that it's usually so expensive to make a call no one expects it!

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