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:
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When you kill a messenger, you deliver a message of your own: Tell me the Truth at your peril. Killing
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news or bad.
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- Scope Creep and the Planning Fallacy
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Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming June 19: I Don't Understand: II
- Unclear, incomplete, or ambiguous statements are problematic, in part, because we need to seek clarification. How can we do that without seeming to be hostile, threatening, or disrespectful? Available here and by RSS on June 19.
- And on June 26: Appearance Antipatterns: I
- Appearances can be deceiving. Just as we can misinterpret the actions and motivations of others, others can misinterpret our own actions and motivations. But we can take steps to limit these effects. Available here and by RSS on June 26.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.