Sometimes to be at your best you need to step away for a moment. It’s been a crazy, intense year so far and the rest of the year promises to be the same with my posted schedule and other things coming which I am not quite ready to talk about yet. While it’s all good stuff and I’m looking forward to everything, I was equally looking forward to the vacation I am now flying back from (typing and posting this from the first leg of my plane trip).

I started planning this particular vacation towards the end of last summer, and before I knew it, it was here. I spent from August 12th to the 22nd in California in the Los Angeles area. I’ve been to CA a lot, and it always is entertaining to hear people talk about LA. Places liek Anaheim or Oxnard may not be far, but I wouldn’t really classify it as LA. Downtown LA itself is pretty small. Although I’m not really here to give you a blow-by-blow of my vacation. It had some great points (real kosher Mexican food! The Go-Go’s at the Greek!) and some that I wish were better (lines, waiting, and general chaos at the D23 Expo – boy did I ding them on their survey). Overall, I did have fun, though.

So if my goal is not to regale you with vacation stories or pictures, what is the purpose of this post? Well, I’ve worked at too many jobs where you accrue vacation time and have a hard time using it for one of these reasons (there could be more, insert your own or add them in the comments):

  1. Your project keeps slipping and your vacation time was cancelled.
  2. You are always busy and can’t find the right time to schedule a vacatio.n
  3. You are only allowed to take so many days at a time.
  4. You’re made to feel guilty about taking it.
  5. You’re worried things will go to hell with you gone.
  6. It’s a use it or lose it policy, so you do want to use it but … (see #1 – 4)

I’ve said it before, but only you are really looking out for yourself in your career. Manage it accordingly. Sometimes there does come a point where you just need a break, and it’s up to you to make it happen. Especially in companies where you have a use it or lose it policy, remember those paid days off are part of your compensation plan. You don’t want to throw away money. Use ’em! Even if your vacation isn’t going somewhere else but spending time with friends and family or even just vegging out on the couch in front of the TV, do it!

I burn the midnight oil and both ends of the candle too often. Over the course of the 10 days I did no work. Nada. I did have my laptop with me and did check some e-mail just to see what was going on, but that was only in the early morning hours before going out and doing anything. Anything work related I’m starting to tackle now and ease back into things. It’ll take me a few days to get back into the swing of things.

You may say that even checking e-mail violated my no work rule and I wouldn’t 100% disagree, but my Outlook also has my personal e-mail account configured so it’d all come in anyway.Because I forced myself to limit computer time and really only use it to get directions or look some stuff up, I actually enjoyed my vacation. Rome didn’t burn; work and scheduled meetings are still there waiting for me tomorrow AM. I feel relaxed and my batteries are recharged and ready for another round. In fact, I’m really looking forward to what’s on my plate.

Take it from me, who will freely admit to being a workaholic: carve out some time to recharge your own batteries. Sometimes what we do can be really intense and you need the break. You’ll thank yourself (and me) later.