Making the Most of Limited Vacation Time

Days off are a luxury more and more young professionals are living without, whether self-imposed because downtime reflects unproductivity during the early stages of our career or because we’re limited to two weeks off annually (to start) at many companies. So, without sacrificing commitment and dedication to working long hours in our competitive work culture, here are some ways to maximize the days you can afford to ditch the office:

Use it to Avoid Burnout
We’ve already mentioned the damaging repercussions of career burnout, which is all the more reason to use your days off to refresh your mind and come back swinging. If you know your vacation time is limited, use it when it’s most valuable to you. Take the time to remove yourself from your work when you start to feel unfulfilled, stagnant or undervalued… and by time, we mean more than just an extended weekend getaway. Which brings us to our next point…

Take Long Breaks
Statistics show that most Canadians use their precious vacation days on Fridays and Mondays, turning regular weekends into three or four-day ski trips or cottage getaways. It’s a sound strategy, but you’ll be surprised just how quickly your paid holidays disappear. Rather than using your time off sporadically, combine five vacation days with two weekends for a full week-and-a-half respite from your professional life. Leave your phone at home, disconnect and refuel – chances are you’ll actually be looking forward to the grind come Monday.

Combine with Existing Paid Holidays
Tacking on a few vacation days to regular weekends gives you a slightly extended break, but scheduling them around national holidays can add up to five, six or even seven days off. Some strategical options: around Easter, when some companies allow for Friday and Monday off; Thanksgiving, where the day itself and the following Friday are considered a holiday (again, depending on your employer; Christmas and New Year’s (tons of leeway there when mixed in with a weekend).

Travel (…but Make it Efficient)
Though staycations are becoming increasingly popular, they aren’t ideal as a much-needed break from work. Go somewhere beyond contact from bosses or coworkers, a place that requires Airplane Mode to be constantly switched on and wi-fi hard to come by. A different climate, language, cuisine and culture can all help to reinvigorate your body and soul when you’re starting to feel irritated at the workplace. One tip: avoid layovers and extended travel times. The last thing you want to do is invite more delays during your time off.

For some, happiness is best achieved by working; they see vacation time as unproductive and detrimental to future success. If work truly is your life calling, perhaps you can spend your vacation days getting some of the professional work done that you otherwise can’t squeeze into your busy schedule – whether that be for your boss, your own company, or for a side project. Focus on tasks that aren’t “must-do” but rather “want-to-do,” things that are both beneficial for business and rewarding for you personally at the same time. Nothing says successful vacation than time spent away from work while improving work.