Five Ways to Use Your Vacation Days

“Vacation, All I Ever Wanted.”

But according go this and this and this statistic, many of Americans don’t seem to want that vacation, because only 52% of us actually use our vacation days each year. There are multiple studies and academic articles out there which show that adults who use their vacation time are actually more engaged and productive in the office, and they are happier in their work. Why in the world would you not do something that makes you like your job more and be happier? Seriously, this blows my mind.
I have never had a problem taking vacation. Although for period of time I had a hard time taking a week or more off. In my second job after graduate school, I took a full week off to go back home, visit my family and some friends. Everything was rush rush rush before I left, and when I returned I got more rush rush rush, now now now, and late late late. And I vowed that I would never take a full week off again.
But then I got smart and figured out that work is just work. And we have vacation days for a reason. They wouldn’t be given to us if were were not to use them. And I know that I need to meet with my boss a a day or two before I leave and ask her about priorities before I go. This has been incredibly helpful to insure that I’m not a crazy person before I leave for va-cay.
So until you have the “strength” or funding to take a full week or two off for your European Vacation or your Alaskan Cruise, here are five smaller ways you can use your vacation days.
A. Schedule yourself a long weekend every month
I define a long weekend as a Thursday and Friday or a Friday and Monday. You might go on a short weekend trip or just kick it around the house. And you really need to own that you are on vacation. So don’t just sit around at home checking email on your phone. Turn off notifications and try not to peek at email at any time.
B.  Plan for Retirement
Some employers and systems count sick days in your duration of service, so saving as much sick time as possible could pay off for you regarding your retirement and pension.  So, if this is you, instead of taking your sick time, use vacation days when you are sick and save up the sick time for your time of service.
C.  Projects
Use a vacation day or two to work on that one project at home that you hvae been dying to tackle – clean out the garage, sort out all your closets, or work on your garden. And take this day on a Wednesday so you can separate the work week.
D. Hometown Jewels
If you live in a city or near somewhere that has a week-long festival, like the Taste of Chicago or any urban film festival, take a vacation day so you can enjoy the event without all the crowds. And most of the festivals will have information on the least busy days to attend, so check websites and then choose the day of the week you want to attend – then schedule your vacation.
E. Have a selfish, spoil yourself day.
Get your hair done, get a mani-pedi, and get a massage. Or any combination. Or add some day drinking to the list. Do at least two things that you would normally not do for yourself because they feel too self indulgent.
Seriously – there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use these days.  They are PAID vacation days.  They are a BENEFIT.  They are part of your compensation.  Even if you don’t travel – take the days.  You’ll be so glad you did!!

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