Work-life balance is a favorite topic among millennials. It’s the one thing that you apparently have to sacrifice if you want to get ahead in your career.
I know this for a fact; in the past, I’ve even worked with ultra-competitive young professionals who discourage others from taking time off from work. I used to share their point of view until I started experiencing heartburns and spasms that were too uncomfortable to ignore. Then I discovered the value of taking advantage of my paid vacation leaves.
According to the Harvard Business Review, going on a vacation has many benefits, including increased happiness and higher chances of promotion. By traveling and spending time away from the office, we also allow ourselves to gain new experiences that will inspire new ideas and revitalize our creativity and productivity.
Meeting new people in unfamiliar places also offer introverts like me a chance to come out of my shell. Traveling offers valuable opportunities for networking, which I probably wouldn’t have back at home. It also allows me to reconnect with people and things that I hold dear.
And yet, many of us hesitate to take a vacation. How could that be? Here are some questions that run through my head before I decide to ask my boss for time off.
What if my boss won’t allow it?
Some managers frown upon the idea of their employees taking time off. This is why it’s crucial to be respectful of them and understand where they’re coming from when you make your request. Follow your company’s guidelines in filing your leave of absence. Moreover, plan around your work and talk to your boss before planning your trip.
I remember how one of my former bosses’ managers was flustered to find out that I will be going on a two-week vacation. It was a month before my vacation, and everything was already in order: my itinerary, my accommodations, and even my train tickets. I’ve already talked to my direct supervisors eight months before the trip, and all the important tasks have been delegated so that my subordinate wouldn’t be burdened by my absence.
She said that in our line of work, we couldn’t afford to take a vacation because of “unpredictable business needs” (I was working for a marketing production house then). Even so, I asserted my right to take time off from work. (I was fortunate that my supervisor stepped in.) Not pushing through with my vacation would have been disastrous for me, as I was already showing signs of burnout.
What about my tasks?
In today’s team-centric workplaces, we can’t just pack our bag and go—we have to be fully prepared so that nothing will fall through the cracks. When I take extended vacations, I make sure to check with my supervisor and coordinate my workload several months prior to the date.
As the date draws near, I determine which tasks I can do in advance, and which should be delegated to teammates. It’s not about them pulling my weight, of course—coordinating with teammates is important because then I would know what their workload is. If there should be any urgent matters while I’m away, there has to be somebody available to take care of it.
What about the work that will pile up while I’m gone?
Contrary to what many commentators say, checking emails while on vacation proved to be helpful for me. I find comfort in knowing that business will not grind to a halt when I don’t report to the office. I also want to check every so often if there is any important stuff that comes up, so I won’t be surprised when I return. That might work for you too.
A final note
While we all want to excel in our work, it’s important that we maintain a healthy attitude toward our jobs. Taking care of our mental health and our overall well-being by going on a vacation every so often should be a priority. After all, when we briefly disconnect ourselves from our stressful jobs, we’ll return with more energy to take on difficult challenges.
Go ahead; take a vacation if you can, and if your work allows it. Recharging is crucial in our high-stress jobs. If you can’t, take a mini-break by maximizing your weekends.