Unless your company has a vacation shutdown, you might experience some difficulty in getting away. Work might seem to have an invisible chain linking you to your desk — keeping you from taking two weeks in the sun or even touring your hometown. What can you do to break that chain?
- Walk before you run
- For anything that we find difficult to do, practicing on something easier is a great strategy. If taking a couple of weeks off is difficult, practice first with something smaller.
- Take an afternoon off. Maybe you have a reserve of "personal days" to draw from. But if you don't, here's something even easier: next time you're sick, actually take a sick day. Or a sick afternoon.
- Start planning way early
- Start planning about six months ahead of your target vacation date. If you want to take time off in August, start planning in March.
- Compared to what you normally do, a vacation isn't all that complicated, so why does it take six months to plan your vacation? It doesn't. You don't use the time for planning your vacation — you use it for planning your work. Sequence things — or schedule your vacation — so that crunches are unlikely in the month before you leave.
- If politics is a factor, align with Power
- Work can seem to be
an invisible chain
tying you to your desk
- Not much will happen while Power is away on vacation. At least, nothing permanent. Oh, you might miss out on a chance to be the designated stand-in, but your boss will have arranged things so that nothing important will happen during that period anyway.
- Timing your vacation to occur either during or just before your boss's vacation will help you feel better about your absence.
- Tell the ones you love
- Say out loud to those you love that you want to take a vacation, and then work out the dates with them.
- This agreement locks you in. Backing out becomes much more difficult, not only because of their reactions, but also because you won't want to disappoint them. An explicit, open commitment is the key to balancing your priorities.
- For some of us, part of the difficulty in getting away traces to an unrealistic assessment of our own importance. In the actual scale of things, most of us can easily go missing for short periods without affecting normal operations.
- Everyone else at work already knows this about you. Your only task is accepting it yourself.
Finally, I'd suggest that when you do go on vacation, you leave your cell phone behind, but I'm guessing that you'll just ignore that idea. So instead, promise yourself that you won't respond to text or voice messages from work. Few of us are so important that taking a few days off would affect the expansion rate of the Universe. Top Next Issue
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More articles on Emotions at Work:
- Never, Ever, Kill the Messenger
- If you're a manager in a project-oriented organization, you need to know the full, unvarnished Truth.
When you kill a messenger, you deliver a message of your own: Tell me the Truth at your peril. Killing
messengers has such predictable results that you have to question any report you receive — good
news or bad.
- Decision-Making and the Straw Man
- In project work, we often make decisions with incomplete information. Sometimes we narrow the options
to a few, examine their strengths and risks, and make a choice. In our deliberations, some advocates
use a technique called the Straw Man fallacy. It threatens the soundness of the decision, and its use
is very common.
- Responding to Threats: II
- When an exchange between individuals, or between an individual and a group, goes wrong, threats often
are either the cause or part of the results. If we know how to deal with threats — and how to
avoid and prevent them — we can help keep communications creative and constructive.
- Good Change, Bad Change: I
- Change is all around. Some changes are welcome and some not, but when we distinguish good change from
bad, we often get it wrong. Why?
- On Advice and Responsibility
- Being asked for advice can be an affirming experience, but actually giving advice can sometimes entail
risk. How can this happen, and what choices do we have?
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming May 31: Unresponsive Suppliers: III
- When suppliers have a customer orientation, we can usually depend on them. But government suppliers are a special case. Available here and by RSS on May 31.
- And on June 7: The Knowledge One-Upmanship Game
- The Knowledge One-Upmanship Game is a pattern of group behavior in the form of a contest to determine which player knows the most arcane fact. It can seem like innocent fun, but it can disrupt a team's ability to collaborate. Available here and by RSS on June 7.
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- Creating High Performance Virtual Teams
- Many people experience virtual teams as awkward, slow, and sometimes
frustrating. Even when most team members hail from the same nation or culture, and even when they all
speak the same language, geographic dispersion or the presence of employees from multiple enterprises
is often enough to exclude all possibility of high performance. The problem is that we lead, manage,
and support virtual teams in ways that are too much like the way we lead, manage, and support co-located
teams. In this program, Rick Brenner shows you how to change your approach to leading, managing, and
supporting virtual teams to achieve high performance using Simons' Four Spans model of high performance.
Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date
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- Baci Grill, 134 Berlin
Road, Berlin, CT 06416: September 19,
Monthly Meeting, Southern New England Chapter of the Project Management Institute. Register now.
- Baci Grill, 134 Berlin Road, Berlin, CT 06416: September 19, Monthly Meeting, Southern New England Chapter of the Project Management Institute. Register now.
- The Race to the South Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers
- On 14 December 1911, four men led by Roald
Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen
had won the race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished.
As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough, but to organizational leaders, business
analysts, project sponsors, and project managers, the story is fascinating. Lessons abound. Read
more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:
- CTCPA, 716 Brook Street,
Rocky Hill, CT 06067: September 20,
Full-day Workshop, Southern New England Chapter of the Project Management Institute. Register now.
- CTCPA, 716 Brook Street, Rocky Hill, CT 06067: September 20, Full-day Workshop, Southern New England Chapter of the Project Management Institute. Register now.