Why Is It So Hard For Me To Take Time Off?

Posted: April 14, 2013 in Work-Life Balance
Tags: , , ,

Make A LifeExcept for one meeting which I must attend in two days, I have scheduled time off from work for the week.  Part of the reason is that I’m officiating at an out-of-town wedding next weekend and I want plenty of time to edit and rehearse what I’ll be saying at the ceremony before I travel to the destination Friday.  The other reason is that I’m almost at the maximum vacation days that my company allows us to build up before we stop accruing more.  I can’t let that happen.

My problem is that I haven’t successfully walked completely away from a week of work in a very long time.  My pattern is that if, for example, I plan five days off, I end up putting in the equivalent of 2-3 full work days during the five.  Or if I schedule two days off, I end up working two half-days during that time.

I know that I need to be able to walk away from work, but it’s really hard for me.  I’m not bragging about some exemplary work ethic.  I’m honestly asking for advice on how to get better at waking away for longer periods of time.

Here are some of the factoids that relate to this issue for me:

  • I really love what I do, so it’s actually fun and fulfilling for me to spend time doing it.
  • Since I’m the only one at work who does what I do on a daily basis, it is hard for me to step away knowing that not all that I normally do will be done in my absence, even though my colleagues who back me up will take care of the bigger, more pressing matters.
  • I don’t like coming back to hundreds of emails that accumulate during a long absence, so I opt for less stress upon my return by handling some of those emails on days I’m supposed to be off.
  • My work to-do list is always long, so it seems less stressful to take the time to knock things off the list during days I’m supposed to be on vacation rather than allow the to-do list to get longer and longer while away.

What do you think?  Do you share my dilemma or does it sound totally foreign and weird to you?  What advice do you have for me?

For the next seven days I have the chance to work less on a vacation than I have in years.  How do I resist the temptation to work instead?

  1. Beth Warren says:

    Hi Jeff! I don’t share your problem. When I am on vacation, I’m on vacation and leave Humana behind. I work myself to death getting ready for my vacation, so usually I’m exhausted by the time I leave the house. I obsess about trying to get everything done and every possible scenario of what might happen while I’m gone, so that I over plan and over work myself ahead of time.

    It usually takes my husband 3 days into a vacation before he’s able to let go and “be on vacation”. I on the other hand, as soon as I get into the car (if driving), or step onto the plane, I’m officially “on vacation”.

    I guess you need to ask yourself if it is truly a problem for you. It sounds like to me that you are thinking ahead and would rather trade a few hours during a vacation to keep on top of the emails, rather than “paying for it” when you get back. If doing a little work here and there helps you mentally, then that works for you.

    When you say, “I know that I need to be able to walk away from work, but it’s really hard for me”, is that something you want or is someone else telling you that’s what you need? If it is you that feels this way, then you know where to get the power to overcome this. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Phil 4:13

    • Jeff Ross says:

      Thanks, Beth. I’m glad you’re able to set work aside on your vacations. I have mixed emotions about it for myself. I want to be able to put it aside and I think that I should be able to better than I do. This week is a good test for me, but next month will be a better test when I’ve scheduled 3 full weeks off in a row.

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