Whether you celebrate Christmas or are simply taking some time off to unplug before 2024 arrives, many of us are in the final working days of the year!
The big question around the office or virtual water cooler is “what are you doing during your time off?” From vacations to house projects to time with family, we all have something we’re looking forward to. Yet, many of us with the best of intentions to unplug from work, know that the alluring call of the laptop and unread e-mail will bring us back to our inboxs far sooner than we intended.
How do we make sure our PTO doesn’t turn into half-hearted WFH or a social media scroll fest?
It starts with redefining PTO as Planned Time Off.
Creating the plan
- Sync with your team on how you’ll cover the work whether that’s spreading the “on-call” love, or simply directing folks to call you with urgent requests. If you intend to “check in” during this time, schedule a half day of work complete with a calendar block reflecting your intent to process e-mail, respond to messages, or attend a call.
- Clear your work calendar. Let people know you won’t be at their meeting, and cancel anything that’s on your calendar that you set up. Nothing is worse than jumping on a call only to realize the organizer forgot to cancel.
- Make a loose plan of what you want to get done during your time off. I like to throw these on sticky notes: movie with the kids, take down decorations, write, finalize goals and personal annual planning, update financial tracker.
- Assign each day at least one thing from your plan. This isn’t full-blown goal planning, it’s just easy and gives you something to shoot for when you wake up instead of reaching for your phone or laptop.
Need some inspiration?
Here’s my Planned Time Off schedule:
Monday: Christmas Day – PJs til noon, take a walk, family event
Tuesday: Operation Organization – get kids rooms reset and decluttered for the new year, zoom with friends in the evening
Wednesday: Write in the AM, take kids for gift card redeem/shopping in the PM
Thursday: Write in the AM, be outdoors in the PM, take down Christmas decor in the evening
Friday: Annual planning in the AM, appointments in the PM
Saturday: laundry, grocery order, update financial tracker
As a time optimist, it would be easy to PACK a to-do list with everything under the sun that I’ve put off knowing this time off was coming, but setting up this loose PTO schedule by day helps me create an honest schedule that keeps things realistic, fun, and flexible.