I am getting ready for vacation and asked a few friends for book recommendations. I wanted something fun (and dare I say trashy) that I won’t be humiliated to be seen with reading at the pool or beach.

 

A friend of mine recommended Eat, Pray, Love, a book that I love (not so much the movie), but already read. All of this got me thinking about taking paid time off (PTO) and the overwhelming guilt we feel taking time for ourselves.

 

Unfortunately enough we live in a society where people live in fear of taking paid time off. A recent survey from the U.S. Travel Association reported that 41% of American workers do not plan to use all of their PTO, despite it being part of their work compensation plan. Yet, of those surveyed, 96% recognized the importance of taking time off.

Why can’t we just relax and enjoy some well-deserved recharging time?

We know that taking vacation time helps reduce stress and has benefits for both our physical and mental well-being. It has been proven that when people take a break from the daily grind their health improves – lower blood pressure, reduction of anxiety and increased sense of wellbeing.  Vacation time helps us come back to the office refreshed and ready to face the challenge of another day.

 

So, how do you feel less guilty about your time away, and make things easier on your colleagues while you’re gone.

Here are a few tips I found worked for me:

  • Baby steps – instead of a weeklong vacation try long weekends. Who doesn’t love a 3 or 4 day weekend?
  • Plan ahead – make sure you send out a reminder that you will be out of the office (OOTO) to your team a week before leaving. Try to schedule your leave during a slow time or when you know there are no looming deadlines.
  • Complete your list – get all of your work done before you leave and make sure you have a POC to answer any questions or issues that come up while you are away.
  • Shut down – try to avoid checking your phone and email while you are OOTO. I know this will be the hardest to do (and I can’t say I even do this myself) but I promise the office won’t fall apart without you checking your email every 5 minutes.

 

I know I need to take my own advice and just relax but I am a work in progress. So, I vow to try to feel lessguilty while sitting on the beach reading my (trashy) books and trust that my colleagues will keep the lights on.

 

P.S. – Here are few of the titles I will be taking with me:

 

  • The Vactioner – I heard this was hilarious and timely
  • The Power of Thanks – I am always looking for insight into making customers and employees feel appreciated
  • Latest copy of InTouch & InStyle magazines – pretty much any magazine you find in the grocery checkout aisle with a celebrity on the cover.

 

 

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