We caught up with Bradley Beman to get a sense of best practices for taking vacation time. Should you hold off as long as possible? Save all your vacation days? Here are four things to take into consideration.
Listen to the signs.
Bradley Beman tells us that you should take vacation time when you are experiencing burnout. If you are no longer inspired or dread work related activities, it might be time for a break. There are some people who never experience joy at work; that’s an unfortunate reality. Once you have an understanding of what your normal attitude is towards work, use that as your baseline to regulate your mood. If getting up is hard, it might also be time to check in with a doctor or therapist. If you push through burnout, you might be productive, but oftentimes, pushing yourself to such limits makes you even more burnt-out and creates an unhealthy pattern of consistent high stress. Take time for yourself, and cash in those vacation days, when you truly need a mental break.
The end of a successful quarter might also be a logical time to take a vacation. While some people might run well off of the high of success, others might need to reward themselves before tackling new projects. Bradley Beman says that both modes are fine, so it is up to you to know for yourself whether you work well in a reward-based system or a fast-paced system. If you can use the momentum of success to create more success, do that. If you need time to yourself after a period of high emotions due to success, do that. Being a productive employee is all about knowing yourself and working with the tools you are given.
Are there other people in your life that would benefit/lose out on something based on your choice of vacation days? Bradley Beman suggests keeping family and friends in mind when making this decision. Are you planning a vacation away from home? Do you need someone to cover for you at work in the meantime? Do you have kids that will need childcare? Or will this be a stay-at-home vacation?
Make sure you take everything into consideration when deciding on a vacation plan. Everything costs money; if your kids need watching and your partner plans on coming with you on vacation, take childcare costs into consideration or see if friends/family are available to babysit. If your job is indispensable, someone might need to cover for you in your absence. Make sure all your affairs are in order at work before you actually leave work. All of this is vital to ensure your transition into and out of vacation are smooth.
If there is a vacation you have dreamed of taking, and flights are on sale, and hotels are cheap, go for it. Plan for vacations that you really want to take; not every vacation has to be a mental catchup experience. You should reward yourself with exciting travels as well. Plan for things you want to do because they will help you get through the work standing between you and a trip.