Taking time off from the job is important to reboot

Sue Schade taking time off from work

It’s that time of year. Maybe you just did a spring break trip with your kids or you are planning your summer getaway. Whatever it may be, you need to take time to reboot.

Leave the job behind and leave good people in charge and covering for you. Companies give vacation and PTO time for just that – Personal. Time. Off.

Over the years, I have gotten better at checking out and turning it off. I learned my lesson the hard way on a vacation many years ago with my family. It was ruined by being totally available for problems that arose back at work. I spent most of my time either on the phone or worrying about what was going on. Turns out, it wasn’t even concrete problems that needed to be addressed; it was just work politics.

I’ve shared my thoughts on the importance of taking time off openly so others don’t have to learn the hard way like I did. And I encourage my staff to take their vacation time and check out while away.

As it is, the days leading up to a vacation and the days following are tough enough. There’s everything you think you need to get done that just can’t wait a week or two on the front end. And then thinking you are a super human who can get through all their email for a week or two on the first day back. For those of you who can, is that badge of honor worth it?

The out of office message you set is there for a reason – let people know you are unavailable. And if they have something urgent let them know who you trust and have put in charge to handle whatever may come up on your behalf.

If you are in management and you don’t have someone on your team to turn to and confidently put in charge, develop a plan and implement it so by vacation time you are comfortable turning things over. And make sure that person has credibility with your boss.

There’s something about being out of the country that makes going off the grid easier – who wants to pay international phone charges just to keep up with email that can wait until you return. But now with free wifi in many places, even that hurdle is broken down – good or bad.

Many companies have a “use it or lose it” policy for PTO days accumulated past the max. That policy is there for a good reason. You need to take the time you have earned and get refreshed. Chill out with your family and friends. See a new part of the world. Think big thoughts or no thoughts at all. Just be in the moment and relax. Even a “staycation” should have plenty of R&R time.

Life is short. I am reminded of it every time I think about my father who died from cancer in his mid-40’s when I was just 4 years old. I’m fortunate to be in good health and able to spend time with my husband, adult daughters and their families on vacations. We just took one of those fun family beach vacation breaks – and the grandkids who came with us, just 2 and 4 years old, had a blast! I hope to do many more of these new kind of family vacations with grandkids and “see the world” excursions with my husband in my lifetime.

And I hope the same for you. Need I say it again, Life. Is. Short. 

This post was first published on Sue Schade's Health IT Connect blog.

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