You’ve worked so hard and earned enough paid time off (PTO) to finally take an epic solo trip or around-the-world adventure with your BFFs. But actually asking your boss for those hard-earned vacation days and putting them on the calendar? That’s another story entirely.
According to Project Time Off, Americans wasted a whopping 658 million vacation days in 2016. Say what?! That’s a pretty big wake-up call. To help turn your wanderlust goals into reality, we asked leadership expert and executive coach Camille Preston from Create More Flow for tips on how to ask your boss for time off the right way, overcome vacation guilt, and find some solid middle ground. Scroll on for her expert advice.
1. Ask the right way. Requesting PTO can be uncomfortable, but don’t let it get in the way of taking a much-deserved vacation. You’ve worked super hard, so ask for time off confidently and professionally. Be sure to put in your request as far in advance as you can. It’s super important to show your manager that you respect the company’s schedule, upcoming deadlines, scheduled team building activities, and company events by planning ahead.
When it comes to popular PTO times like holidays, you can do yourself a huge favor and shift your schedule. For example, can you take one for the team and work during the week between Christmas and New Years? If so, do it. Your boss will be happy to have coverage, you’ll earn valuable vacation time, and there might be a lighter workload or extra flexibility to work from home. Plus, when you travel slightly outside of the holiday season, you can score some scorching hot travel deals.
2. Be a rockstar teammate. Fostering good relationships can be key to vacay coverage, Preston says. “Be intentional about how you work with your teammates. Cultivate collaborations where you feel people will ‘have your back’ while you are out of the office (and on the flip, you’ll have theirs!).” She continues, “It’s so much easier to relax knowing that your projects will be covered while you’re gone.” An added bonus: Trusty work partnerships will deepen your professional relationships.
3. Reframe the idea of “time off.” Preston reminds us that vacation time is earned — and part of your compensation if you’re a salaried employee — and should be enjoyed. “It’s NOT selfish!” she says. “Remember that taking the time you’ve worked hard to earn is really about self-care and preparing to be your best.” She tells us that research shows that peak performance often follows a period of relaxation, which can be as simple as taking a lunchtime walk or scheduling time away.
4. Forget about work-life balance. “Just like nine-to-five work days are a thing of the past, so is this illusion that life should be ‘balanced,’” Preston explains. “Think about what’s important to you and getting all of it into your life.” Instead of thinking on a day-to-day basis, Preston actually raves about the power of a longer, more holistic approach. “A weekly or monthly basis can really work well,” she says. “I find that toggling between intensive sprints at work, followed by intensive periods of fun can actually be really rejuvenating.”
5. Find a middle ground. A trip around the world isn’t always possible, so be open to using your PTO for something else, rather than letting it go to waste. “If scheduling with family or work is too complicated, think about a personal staycation,” Preston suggests. “But instead of making this a stretch of days where you deep clean or go through projects, treat yourself to the stuff you never get to enjoy.” We think a week of brunch hangs with BFFs, Netflix, naps, and manicures sounds pretty perfect!
Did you waste PTO last year? Tell us how you plan to make the most of it this year @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)