Don't waste your time off; just make the most of it without leaving a disaster at work.
- An important way to have work-life balance is to take full advantage of your vacation time.
- Those who do not take vacation time may quickly begin to suffer from burn out.
- There are many ways to make the most of your vacation time.
The business.com community asked how to know when is the right time to take a vacation. We went looking for answers.
There's no question that the United States has an unhealthy "vacation culture." According to a July 2018 LinkedIn survey, 51% of people did not use all their allotted vacation days in 2017, the No.1 reason being a fear of falling behind.
Despite numbers like these, the importance of taking time off is no secret. The Framingham Heart Study found that men who don't take vacations were 30% more likely to have a heart attack, and women were 50% more likely.
But once you've acknowledged the importance of a vacation, how do you decide when to take it? It's a common question in the Business.com community. For instance, Carolyn Burt asked us, "When is the best time of year for employees to take a vacation?"
Unfortunately, there is no secret algorithm that tells you when the best time to leave your office will be. However, your industry, company size and strategy all play a significant role in determining your optimal time off. Here are a few vacationing trends that can make your decision easier.
Dayne Shuda, founder of Ghost Blog Writers, suggests that the best time to take a vacation in the business world is when other businesspeople are also taking vacations. If other workers are out of the office, vacationing at the beach in the summer or traveling for family gatherings, you can afford to take some time off too.
"The holiday season in late December is a good time," he said. "It also seems that the Fourth of July week is less busy in the U.S."
But for hospitality and retail, the holiday season is often the busiest time of the year. Don't be afraid to discuss with your manager which seasons are least busy, or when they'd prefer you to request time off.
It's important to ask your managers for time off so they have time to reassign your work for the time that you'll be out.
Lisa Chu, founder of Black N Bianco, says her company takes employee vacation very seriously, because employees should have a happy and balanced work life. "We put in place a very simple vacation request policy," she said.
Marielle Smith, vice president of people at GoodHire, asks that employees give as much lead time as possible when requesting time off. If the vacation is a week or longer, she asks that they at least give a month's notice.
"The best time [to take vacation] is when other team members aren't taking off, so it's best to put requests in early and coordinate with others if possible," she said.
Regardless of industry, a great time to vacation is when you don't have to request time off or leave unfinished assignments behind. If you can afford to skip a paycheck, experts say you should take at least a week off between jobs.
The Balance Careers suggests you should wait six months before asking to take time off from a new job, so it might be your last chance for time off for a while.
For those who are happy with their current positions and don't foresee a career shift in their near futures, just try initiating a conversation with your supervisor about your plans.
Threat of burnout
Smith said GoodHire is a big proponent of employees taking vacation time. But the company goes a step further and encourages staff to really shut off – no work emails or phone calls.
A vacation takes planning and time management, but the productivity lulls could be much worse if you don't take some time for yourself.
"We never want our employees to feel guilty or that their job is in jeopardy if they take a vacation," Chu said. "Happy and well-balanced employees are the most productive, efficient and creative."
How to maximize your vacation days
Vacation is something we all look forward to taking, and there are some great ways to maximize your vacation time. Million Mile Secrets offered some insight on making the most of all of your vacation days.
Planning your vacation brings more satisfaction than you realize. You’ll have something to look forward to, and the planning process allows you to visualize your trip. Nonstop flights may be a little more expensive, but they can save you a lot of time in actual travel status. The time you get to spend at your actual destination makes up for the additional cost of the flight.
Consider traveling during times that are not considered popular for your destination. If you travel at off times, it can save you from long lines and delays, and possibly even score you some deals. Consider how much time you have for a specific vacation when planning your trip. If you have more time available, you might want to consider going to places that are more difficult to access. Some trips require more time, such as Australia versus a quick trip to the beach.
How many vacation days should you take?
LifeHacker recommends taking between seven to 11 days of vacation per year. If you work it correctly around a weekend, you can use less actual workdays for your vacation. Depending on how many vacation days you get per year may dictate how many days you can actually take, but you should try to wrap your days around a weekend and holiday so you can make the most of your time off. They warn that you do not want to take all of your days at one time, no matter how enticing it might be. You should space out your days better so you can find some balance.