Time To Schedule Time Off

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NFPW Conferences feature tours, which make for great vacations.

Earlier this week I took a random day off. It wasn’t spontaneous because I scheduled it with my boss in advance, but it was random in that one day last week I realized I needed a day off to do nothing.

I’m able to do that because at the start of each calendar year I divide up my days off among the four quarters. I find it restorative to take some time off each quarter. Admittedly, I don’t take as many days in January, February and March because it’s just too cold. Some of the days are floaters, meaning I may change when I take them closer to the time.

The point, though, is to schedule the time off and to take the time. Many Americans, however, will leave an average of nine paid vacation days unused this year, according to a new survey reported by Marketplace.org.

Not taking the time has a cost. Marketplace.org also reports that women who don’t take vacations are two to eight times more likely to suffer from depression, while for men the risk of heart attack rises by a third.

One of my favorite times to vacation happens in late summer/early fall. I attend the National Federation of Press Women Conference and sign up for the pre- or post-tour and sometimes a day tour. Those extra days off give me time to recharge my batteries, explore America and hang out with a bunch of amazing women (and men).

If you haven’t, now is a good time to be sure you have scheduled all of your vacation days.

Keeping the Vacation Alive

Chocolate covered strawberries

My vacation featured a cooking demonstration. This photo helps return me to the relaxing meal we had following the lesson. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

I just returned from an incredible vacation, one in which I took no electronic devices. I watched no TV and read no newspapers. It was a stress-free week.

I knew, though, upon my return that the stress could quickly mount at the office so I took some precautions. Perhaps the suggestions will help you when you return from a vacation.

Leave your first morning free to address urgent emails and messages. Don’t worry about any of the others. Don’t schedule any meetings. I actually blocked the time on my calendar so no one could snag it.

Block time each day for the first week to catch up on the emails. To save time, sort your emails by conversations. By reading the latest, you can eliminate all of the individual ones in the thread.

Set a limit to your day. You can work long hours but you’ll lose that vacation feel way too quickly. I limited myself and a colleague even offered to call me to make sure I was walking out the door.

Schedule something fun or relaxing for your first weekend back to extend that vacation feeling.

Schedule your next vacation or break if you haven’t already done so. I block time each quarter on my calendar. That way I always have something to look forward to, even if it’s simply curling up at home with a book.

If all else fails, look at your vacation photos each evening or change your desktop image to one from your vacation spot.