I’ve just booked myself in for a holiday at the start of June. Now, I’m my own boss so most people think I can take holiday when I want to. I wish that was true. If I want a holiday, I’ve got to work twice as much before I go, or just not get paid for a couple of weeks. Ouch.
I’m still only taking a few days off – the short week after the Jubilee weekend.
Freelancers get a raw deal when it comes to holiday, but it occurs to me that a lot of people I know in full-time jobs don’t take much holiday either. We usually have about three weeks of holiday each year – how many of us can say that they’ve taken all of it?
We worry about leaving everything behind. So much so that it stops us from actually enjoying our holiday when we’re away. I remember one particularly evil boss calling me on the Friday of my last holiday weekend just to ‘let me know’ that she hadn’t done any of my work while I was away. Cheers for that.
Colleagues often have selective memories. They’ll moan and bitch when they have to pick up your work, conveniently forgetting that they buggered off to Mexico for three weeks before Christmas and left you with their share of work over the Christmas rush. There’s also the worry that if you leave people with your projects well… they just won’t do them right. They’ll ignore any instructions you left and do things their own way.
You’ll have to redo it when you get back.
We’ve started to think that we’re indispensable. That our boss can’t manage without us. In many ways, this isn’t a bad thing. When you’re good at your job, it’s probably true to a certain extent. But you can’t do your job if you haven’t had a break. It’s too hard. You’ll be running on empty, especially if you add in some weekend work and late nights (I’m writing this on a Sunday evening).
I’m not one for a two week holiday. I was very impressed that I managed to take an entire week off last September. But I do manage to sneak little holidays into my year. Nothing huge, just sneaky little ways to take time off without realising:
1. Book random days
Take a look at your calendar, make a note of any months you know you’ll be quiet. Book a couple of days off and then forget about them. You don’t need to do anything with them, you can stay in bed all day if you want. Just enjoy being on holiday.
2. A bank holiday a month
This is fun, and you’ll still have enough holiday left over for a real break. Pick a Monday each month and book it off. It’s your holiday, you don’t have to take it in weekly chunk. Congratulations, you’ve just giving yourself a bank holiday every single month of the year.
3. Go on holiday before Christmas
Don’t leave your holiday until the last minute – most companies won’t let you book three weeks at the end of the year and you’ll lose your allowance. That said, if you book your trip before the Christmas break, you’ll come back to a totally clean slate in January. Your colleagues can’t ignore your work and if anything does go wrong while you’re away, chances are the drama will have died down on your return.
4. Take a break mid-week
Live in a city? Have a nice hotel or two? Take a break somewhere local. Leave early, check in to your hotel and go in a little late. Most companies won’t mind a few hours every so often – especially if you’ve worked late for a few days. You’ll feel totally refreshed and you won’t even have gone anywhere.
5. Start your holiday mid-week
Everyone starts their holidays on Friday – that’s when you’re meant to, right? Nope. Start them mid-week and you’ll get into that holiday feeling on a Monday (words can’t explain how good that is). Not just that, but the extra couple of days gives you almost two weeks of holiday – in your head you’ll be counting until the Sunday after your holiday started. Just a little bit of trickery and your seven days off work will feel like it’s closer to 14.
You’ve earned your holiday. You’re going to lose it if you don’t use it.