Prepare for Paid Time Off: How to Make the Most of Your Vacation

Prepare for Paid Time Off: How to Make the Most of Your Vacation

We only get a few days of Paid Time Off (PTO) in a year. Here’s how to make the most out of your vacation days.

Have you ever gone on PTO but spent the whole time working? I used to joke and call it “Paid Time On, Pretend Time Off, or Faux TO.” All these different words basically mean that when you step away from work, you don’t truly step away. 

It defeats the whole purpose of taking time off when that digital tether is keeping you in your workspace. 

So I want to give you four tips so that you can take your time off this year, tips on how to maximize your PTO.

So when you go on vacation, you are actually able to step away, to let go of work, to refresh and revive yourself. Before I go into those tips, let me give you two very important statements that I need you to digest.

When you have time to revitalize yourself, you become your best you.

First, know that your company, even if you’re the CEO, should be able to function without you.

Your company should be able to function without you for some time. If you’re going to step away for three days or a week, your company should be able to go on without you. If it can’t, that’s a business continuity issue and something that needs to be addressed. If you step away and everything falls apart, that means that you have set yourself and your role up in a way that isn’t best for the company.

Second, remember that you are a person and that you need to recharge and revitalize yourself every once in a while.

When you have time to revitalize yourself, you become your best.  You cannot be your best when you’re running low on fuel. You’ve got to fill the tank up. Taking time off makes you a better worker, a better mother, a better wife, a better sister, a better daughter, a better friend, a better person.

Taking time off is so important to you being your best self.

With those two truths established, I give you tips on how to prepare for your Paid Time Off.

#1 Identify who’s going to do your job while you’re out.

For the things that can’t stop, who are you going to delegate to?

Identify specific people and create a plan with them to handle anything that might come up while you’re out. In your out-of-office email, list these people and the areas or projects that they handle (e.g., If you want to know about clients, contact Bob. If you want to know about operations, contact Sue.).

#2 Turn off notifications from group chats and channels.

I advocate for removing yourself from these channels, but if that’s not possible, turning off notifications on your smartphone is a must.

This will help you let go and actually unplug from office responsibilities.

#3 Set catch-up meetings with your key stakeholders.

Set meetings with your important stakeholders for 30-45 minutes for the week that you’re back. That way, you can let go knowing that when you’re back, you’re going to get all the information that you need.

These people will also know they don’t have to reach out while you’re on PTO because, in three days, they’re gonna be able to talk to you about all their concerns. 

#4 Assign a point person who can be responsible while you’re out. 

This person won’t do your job, but they are responsible for pushing around information and communicating with you when it’s urgent.

This person could be your work best friend, anyone who’s close to you. Let them be the ones to reach out to you, so you’re not getting messaged by multiple people. They will also weigh in on issues that may need an immediate response.

Be clear about this too in your out-of-office email and make sure these points are communicated throughout your workplace.

Remember that you are a person, and that means that you need to recharge and revitalize yourself every once in a while.

Take Action

Imagine that you’re going on vacation next week, think of the people you would pick as your point persons as early as today.

If you want to get more tips on thriving both at home and work, my Career VIP days may be for you. See more details here.

Prepare-for-Paid-Time-Off:-How-to-Make-the-Most-of-Your-Vacation-The Savvy Working Mom