One thing I do not do an excellent job is using all my vacation days. I receive about fourteen holidays with federal holidays and the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. On top of that, I receive twenty vacation days, fifteen six days, and four personal days yearly. This is far more time off than I’ve received elsewhere. Usually, I’ve gotten about ten vacation days (and some holidays a year).

Part of my issue is not knowing what to do with that time. I like to feel productive. Even if it is a fun activity, I want some structure or goals around it. I want to know what’s next.

Part of the issue is the work I do. While nothing I do is life or death, working in information technology means it is difficult to truly disconnect. It’s been rare when I’ve been on vacation and haven’t had a system alert or ping from a colleague. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve received an email, text, or instant message that begins with “I know you’re on vacation, but….” Of course, since I like using and exploring technology, I’m invariably on my computer when someone reaches out.

Previously, my supervisor has made not losing vacation one of my performance goals. It helped that year. But, in the last several years, I let about sixty vacation days expire. Not only am I effectively leaving free money on the table. But, I’m not prioritizing myself or allowing me to relax and recharge.

As it got close to the end of this fiscal year, I realized I had about thirty vacation days left to use before losing them. I’ll be taking off about three days a week for the next several weeks. But I’ll still lose six days this year.

I’ve noticed the after a few weeks, my work life is a bit less hectic. Working only two days a week (okay, a bit more than that), this is expected. I’ve also noticed that it is even more challenging to remember what day it is. During the pandemic, I’m sure many have forgotten the day of the week. Working about every other day just exacerbates that problem.

My next challenge is to figure out how to shut down, relax, and recharge. At least I have at least 15 more vacation days to figure that out. 😆