I’m prone to burnout. And when I hit burnout, I’m not fun to be around. That’s not good at any time, let alone in a small agency, especially as one of the founders.
Burnout, for me, feels like a straight jacket on my brain. My thoughts are trapped, I can’t focus, and I take it out on others because I’m stressed.
Burnout would get terrible for me because I rarely took vacation. I had two reasons for this:
- I’d always feel bad about taking more than a long weekend
- I wanted to save up as much vacation time as I could so I’d get paid out in the event I was let go
Take them days, y’all.
Don’t feel bad about taking your vacation days
I had some toxic-ass reasons to forego taking restorative vacations. No one should ever feel bad about taking time off. However, a U.S. Travel Association study found that 55% of American workers didn’t use all their vacation time in 2018. Out of 768 million combined days of unused vacation, 236 million of them were totally lost.
26% of the respondents ranked “Too hard to get away from work” as their reason for not taking all their vacation days. The reasons they felt it was too hard to get away?
- Lack of coverage at work
- Too heavy of a workload
- Worry they’ll look less dedicated to work
If our bosses, and places of business, made us feel good about taking vacation time, not a single fucking day would go unused.
Fuck the money
The second reason I never took long vacations was because of a jaded view of my employment tenure. I knew it was a matter of time before a company fired me, and I wanted the vacation time paid out to get close to another paycheck’s worth of money to help float me between jobs.
That, my friends, is a VERY unhealthy way to look at PTO. Also, it’s a dumb idea because that PTO is taxed as a lump payout. So, I’m giving Uncle Sam a large chunk of money instead of getting some rest.
Not a good exchange.
What made me change my mind about using my vacation time? A recent vacation I just took.
Yep, I still had a trash relationship with vacation time. I took time off every quarter but finagled it, so it lined up with a holiday. That way, I was limiting the amount of “business days” I was away. We don’t work on Fridays, so I only took 3-4 business days off but ended up with 10-11 days, including weekends.
3-4 days away from work, coworkers, and clients aren’t enough. So yes, I was taking many days off, but I was barely detaching from work. That’s unhealthy and was taking a toll on my physical and mental health.
It’s also not good for productivity. A lot has slipped through the cracks. A lot of internal responsibilities have taken a backseat to making sure I finish client work. That’s great for clients but terrible for scaling a company.
Then, I was forced to extend my last vacation to a full two weeks away.
Y’all, I’m refreshed. In the middle of it, I set up my vacation time for the next three quarters. All of them a full two weeks.
I’m never looking back.
You can do it, too
You need to take your vacation days. You’re losing money, losing sleep, losing precious relaxation time, and you’re gaining NOTHING in return.
- Your boss won’t love you more because you skipped vacations
- Your company won’t love you more because you skipped vacations
- Your coworkers won’t love you more because you skipped vacations
- You won’t get that raise because you skipped vacations
- You won’t get that promotion because you skipped vacations
You will, however, lessen your stress, recharge your energy, and have time for yourself.
I think that’s the better choice. Don’t you?