As the holidays are fast approaching, many of us find it hard to break away from our daily work routines and taking care of our families and tending to the needs of others. And, unlike back in the day, before we were in our thirties, when there was no internet, no cell phone, no Facebook, no texting, no reality shows and all of the other attention stealers, it seems that we had more time to spend with others and ourselves. Nowadays, it only seems that these devices, although they are supposed to make life easier, seem to sometimes make things more complicated and add more responsibilities to our plates.
As a result, many of us don’t take the vacation hours that we have earned at our jobs working so hard to save the world. According to a study by Expedia.com in 2009, there are 63.3 billion dollars worth of unused vacation time as allotted to U.S. employees. Also, it seems that the United States has the lowest typical number of annual days provided by employers compared to other countries (France, 30 days; Russia, 28 days; United Kingdom,28 days; Poland, 26 days; Spain, 22 days; Japan 20 days; U.S., 15 days — data from Mercer’s 2009 Worldwide Benefit and Employment Guidelines). It seems that we need to take a cue from some of our international counterparts and take the time to relax a little more.
So, After you read this post, I will declare this day, “Even Superwoman Deserves A Vacation During the Holidays” Day! It’s official. Take your cape off, let your hair down, and grab a bottle of your favorite wine (or if you don’t drink, meet me and you can get me a bottle, LOL!)
Here are some tips on how to utilize your very much needed vacation time properly (And I mean it, NO work during your time out of the office, or I will find YOU!):
1. Actually Schedule Vacation Days – Once you get it on paper, it will become more real to you! (I turned in my paperwork for the holidays about two days ago and there’s no turning back. Just Do It!)
2. Tell Other People – Tell your family, your girlfriends, your out of town peeps, your co-workers; Keep on talking about it because that way, everyone will know your plans and help you stick to the plan.
3. Insist on Vacation – Even if there are pressures at work to continue to work like a slave through the holidays or other significant times of the year, and never take time away other than for a water break (LOL!), please make your supervisor take note that you are legally entitled to some time off. It will be up to you to have the conversation about using your days and how that will affect your work while out of the office. If you are the supervisor, put your delegation skills into practice.
4. Go Hard! (Or Go Back To Work!) – The whole point of a vacation is to take time away so don’t be a vacation wimp! And although it is like second nature for many of us “superwomen” to keep on working even while at home, make sure you utilize the time to actually sit and do nothing, to pamper yourself, to enjoy your food, your glass of wine, actually read your magazines, do your nails, start a hobby, crafts, drive to the mall, read a book, Hell! Do the laundry that’s been piling up because you’ve been working too hard to get to it….The whole point is to spend some ME time and if a home project you started doesn’t get done on the first day of vacay, guess what? Do it on the second day. After all, God didn’t create Earth in one day, and you can’t fully get into the groove of a vacation after only one day. I know it’s hard, but make yourself relax and enjoy it!
5. Unplug! – Do I really need to explain this one? I’m sure I do to a few of you (myself included) because some of us are so tapped into technology that we don’t know how to “disconnect”. So, this rule, is the new “Golden Rule” of vacation. Here is a list of what NOT to do: Don’t email anyone (unless it’s your girlfriends and you’re planning a girls night out), don’t respond to work calls (let them leave a voicemail, listen to said voicemail, then decided if it’s necessary for you to respond via a quick phone call or a short email – oh and don’t forget to change your “Out of Office” email and voicemail responses so that people know you are away) and don’t respond to friends or family who call (unless you want to – or if you think it’s an emergency – but otherwise, that’s what voicemail is for). The world won’t fall apart if you are not at work or available for a few days. If it does, you will resurface to fix it all shortly.
6. Pre-plan before vacation – The last thing you want to be doing on your vacation is planning how you will be spending your days off. Create a plan prior to clocking out for that first relaxing day of fun. And if all you are doing is taking a “stay-cation” at your house or apartment and taking some time to yourself or if you are taking a “personal retreat” at a local hotel or spa, plan out each hour. If sleep and relaxation is the goal, then make sure you DVR is qued up to your favorite recorded shows, make sure you know where all of the remotes are, make sure your bed or sofa are set up for lounging, make sure snacks are in order, and make sure your electronics are, nearby, but not the center of your attention. If you are planning to stay home but have some much needed projects around the house that need to be completed, plan those out as well so that you don’t get stuck and frustrated doing activities on your break that you had no intention of doing in the first place. This would be counterproductive to the vacay in the first place. If you are actually leaving town for vacation, make sure you have your hours and days planned so that if sight seeing is the goal, you have your maps, GPS, local sights to see, all in order or if you plan to see friends or family, make sure they know you are coming and you plan some time together. And make sure you have batteries for your digital camera (and if you don’t have one, get one so you can keep track of all of the moments so you can post them on Facebook to prove that you actually took a vacation! LOL
All in all, each of us are guilty of not taking the proper time to take care of ourselves and we often get so busy that we forget to take down time to do what the infamous Whitley Gilbert from “A Different World” fame used to say, “Relax, Relate, and Release!”. After all, isn’t that what a vacation is all about? Of course it is. So make a promise to yourself this holiday season, (repeat after me and put your raise your right hand): “I swear, to take time out, to take care of myself, and to spend time with myself, my loved ones, and my friends.” (Repeat every so often so you don’t forget).
And just so I have proof that some of you took my “Even Superwoman Deserves A Vacation During The Holidays” Day, please share your vacation stories here!
the 30 & over project