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What's the Point?


This time of year, we all start dreaming of summer vacations: checking out of work for a few days, turning off our cell phone, and returning refreshed with an improved attitude. However, it never plays out that simply in reality. The truth is, sometimes (maybe more often than not) taking a vacation and returning from vacation requires more prep and extra work than if we had just stayed in the office. It often leaves us thinking, “what’s the point?”

Is that long weekend away from work worth the stress of preparing to actually be out of the office and then playing catchup when you return? Is there a way to prevent some of the uninvited stress that accompanies taking time off?

PLAN EARLY

Maybe you’re one for spontaneous, quick trips, but I’d venture to guess the majority of professional women can’t just pick up and leave on short notice. We require a good deal of planning and have trips booked months in advance. Don’t leave the planning to just the actual vacation details. Once you know you’ll be out of the office, go ahead and request time away, let all affected parties know, and try to plan your work schedule accordingly.

PLAN A BUFFER

Depending on how much control you have over your schedule, give yourself some extra time to get things done around the office. For instance, if you’re taking Thursday and Friday off, try not to schedule any meetings or conference calls on Wednesday. Give yourself a grace period before your sign off to get all those little things done. In the same way we always think of last-minute errands that need to be run or things needing to be accomplished around the house, there are similar office tasks that also require your attention. Plan strategically.

PLAN TO RELAX

We’re often in such a rushed mindset when we leave for vacation that it’s easy to overschedule and keep ourselves feeling just as scattered on vacation as we would feel at work. Even if your destination is prime for sightseeing and adventures, give yourself some down time during the vacation to just relax and enjoy yourself.

PLAN YOUR REENTRY

We’ve all made the mistake of planning a return flight on Sunday evening and having to return to work a few hours after we get back in town. It can be overwhelming and sometimes even negate the good the vacation did for us. While we don’t always have control of all aspects of our travel, we can do our best to give us some cushion time when we get back. Try opting for a return flight on Saturday to give you time to get home, get readjusted, maybe even do a load of laundry. This also gives you some extra time to account for delayed or canceled travel plans.

It feels a little silly and ungrateful to say that vacations stress us out or require a lot of planning. Whether we like it or not, it’s the professional climate a lot of us live in and is a reality we need to embrace. Yes – your vacations are absolutely necessary and beneficial. It’s just important to do yourself a favor and plan them strategically.

For more blog posts from The Source on the importance of your vacation time, click here, here, here, or here.