How to Take Time Off (As a Busy Professional) (2023)

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Taking a vacation can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be. Let's see how you can minimize your risk and make sure you get the vacation you deserve!

How to Take Time Off (As a Busy Professional) (2)

Taking a vacation is a great way to recharge your batteries, reflect, and come back refreshed and more productive. If you think you are too busy to take time off, reconsider as you may burn out and you will learn that there may be weaknesses in your organization that may not manifest until after you have actually been away for a period of time ...

Choosing the right vacation time depends on many factors, mostly personal but also some professional. After you have a rough idea of ​​what your date might look like, look at any work events that may be happening that month. All employees of any company, quarterly updates, etc.? While you may feel that your vacation is more important than those events, if it's not too important to move your vacation a week earlier or later, then by all means, do it. If possible, try to book your vacation months in advance; this will help others plan around your trip if needed, and show that you have good foresight and planning.

Notify your manager in advance of the scheduled date and let your team know that you will be leaving. Send the invite to everyone in your immediate organization and with whom you work with, and make sure it's categorized as free, not busy, or out of office (OOO). If using Outlook, this will put a horizontal bar at the top of their calendar showing them your OOO status without getting in the way of their day. Next, create a separate invitation for you, categorized as OOO, and make it an all-day event while you're on vacation. That way everyone can see that you're not there and won't try to include you. Also, if applicable, don't forget to let any clients know if they depend on you directly, and who your point of contact will be in your absence.

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Delegate Effectively - Identify tasks and projects that need to be completed during your absence and delegate them to capable team members. Make sure they have the resources and support they need to complete their tasks successfully. If you are an individual contributor, discuss with your manager who else on the team can effectively help in your absence.

Next, cancel any recurring meetings during the holidays - 1:1 meetings with your direct reports, bosses, moving any staff meetings, etc.

Finally, before you go, make sure everyone has your phone number in case of any emergencies, and remind them one last time the week before you go out.

A big mistake is forgetting to set up an automatic reply when you're away, or thinking you'll reply to emails. Set up a simple message indicating when you will return and who to contact if any issues arise. Don't be verbose. If you have a larger team, or oversee several projects, it is recommended to list as many contacts as needed.

How to Take Time Off (As a Busy Professional) (3)

It sounds obvious when you're not around, but do your best to avoid work. Trust your team to handle things in your absence. Resist the temptation to micromanage or check in constantly. Give them the space and autonomy to work independently. Some people struggle with this, either because they can't seem to unplug it, and/or feel that just "liking a light here and there" will make it easier when you get back - after all, no one wants to be buried in a pile in email. I recommend absolutely avoiding doing these things, but for two good reasons. First, it's clear that vacations are about getting away and recharging. There will always be a job for you at a company, and if you don't have a "long term" mindset, you'll burn out. So relax and enjoy your hard-earned downtime and recharge your batteries.

Next, it's an interesting unplugging that tends to expose weaknesses in your systems or the company that surrounds you - often a lack of redundancy that isn't apparent until you go on vacation. Let's look at it in more detail.

While you're away, it tells you where there are holes in your system. Which is great because you can come up with a plan to fix it.

For example, as a manager, if you continue to respond to every issue, the people in your organization will not have the opportunity to solve the problem themselves. By leaving, you may learn that someone may not have access to the codebase, application, approval system, etc., and now they are blocked. Of course, you may need to get involved to help drive it forward, but the point is that you understand (a little hard) that you're not as prepared as you thought you were — and that's good because now you have the opportunity to come back and make your Organizations are more efficient and create needed redundancy.

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You might think this is only relevant for leadership, but it's just as important (sometimes more important) for individual contributors -- many times, for example, software developers have certain access (or key knowledge) to perform operations that others don't, or uncomfortable. Without them, it is now clear that there is not enough redundancy or access granted.

Plan to anticipate as much of this as possible before you leave, but don't beat yourself up if you miss something. Rome wasn't built in a day, and increasing efficiency is incremental in nature.

During your vacation, take a few minutes to reflect on your career. No one wants to think about work during the holidays, but on a macro level, is there anything you don't like? Would you like to do something different? This could be learning a new skill, rewriting some code, creating a new process, etc. Often, innovation comes easily after a glass of wine and a few palm trees in the distance. Catch any flashing thoughts and jot them down for more serious review after the holidays.

Think about your gaps in the sections mentioned above and write them down for later; it's easy to forget, and it's yourNextHolidays are even better.

No doubt, you will have a lot of emails to respond to. Make sure you set aside some extra time in the morning to start reading it, and know that you may get distracted or pulled to different places where you may not have time to process everything at once.

When replying to a message, make sure you are reading the entire chain. Over the course of many days, a thread may evolve with updates, and you should have the entire context.

Finally, be sure to schedule a meeting with your team to get an update on what happened during your absence.

Time off is an important part of recharging and learning about areas in your organization that need more redundancy. It doesn't have to be far away, even a few days off close to home (or at home) can have a huge positive impact and be vital to your health and productivity. With the right planning, you can end up with a stress-free vacation and less worry about things going wrong.

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How do you ask for time off during a busy time? ›

7 ways to ask for time off just the right way
  1. Choose your time wisely. ...
  2. Be specific and give relevant details. ...
  3. Get caught up with all of your work. ...
  4. Be fair with the rest of your team. ...
  5. Make sure you ask, not tell. ...
  6. Offer to help plan for when you're away. ...
  7. Request your time in writing.
Feb 10, 2022

How do you ask for leave professionally? ›

I would like to request [number of days or weeks] leave days that start from [date] and end on [date]. This request is due to [provide reason/s]. Let me know if you need more information about this. I just want to reassure you I can finish my projects on time and can complete extra work before the leave date.

How to tell your boss you need time off for personal reasons? ›

10 Tips for Successfully Requesting Time Off
  1. Know Your Company's PTO Policy. ...
  2. Look at the Company Calendar + Schedule in Advance. ...
  3. Be Caught Up on Work. ...
  4. Talk to Your Manager Before You Make Plans. ...
  5. Be Specific With Your Request. ...
  6. Send a Formal Request in Writing. ...
  7. Communicate to Your Internal Team.

What is a professional reason for time off? ›


It could be a sudden illness, injury from an accident, or another devastating event. In some circumstances, you could be eligible for extended leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Can I take a day off work for personal reasons? ›

You can just take a personal day when you need a break. But that's always easier said than done, right? It's hard to look your boss (and your co-workers) in the eye and say that you're taking a day off for personal reasons. But if you have personal days worked into your benefits, you 100% should be taking them!

How do you tell an employer you are busy? ›

How to Tell Your Boss You're Too Busy
  1. Prepare a list of the projects you've been assigned. ...
  2. Estimate the amount of time required to complete each aspect of a project and the overall time to submit the work.
  3. Estimate the possible effects of not completing the project on time. ...
  4. Schedule a meeting with your boss.

How do you humbly request for leave? ›

I humbly request for the approval of (no: of days) for my planned vacation. I have assigned my colleague (Name) for the emergencies with new clients and retaining customers. For any other work emergencies, I will be available on phone and email. Thank you for your consideration.

How do you politely tell for leave? ›

Hi [supervisor's name], I want to request time off [date] due to [reason]. I am happy to discuss this with you more in person if you would like. My team has no significant deadlines or presentations to give on [day you're requesting off].

How do you ask for leave in a professional email? ›

Dear Mr./Mrs. {Recipient's Name}, I am writing this email to inform you that I will not be able to come to work tomorrow as I have a severe bout of a migraine headache. Taking a day from work and resting will help me overcome this and get back to a normal routine the next day.

Are employers allowed to ask why you need time off? ›

No federal law prohibits employers from asking employees why they are out sick. They are free to ask questions such as when you expect to return to work. They may also require you to furnish proof of your illness, such as a note from a physician.

Do I have to give a reason for time off? ›

Employers can ask why an employee is asking for time off. In fact, that question is pretty common on a standard Time Off Request or when requesting an extended Leave of Absence. However, an employee generally does not have to answer the question if they do not want to.

How often should you take a day off? ›

The truth is that a one-size-fits-all answer doesn't exist here. Your goals and available vacation time will affect how often you can and should take a vacation. However, most studies agree that at least two vacations a year can do wonders for your mental and physical health.

Can your boss deny you a personal day? ›

Can employers deny personal days? Employers may deny personal days if you cannot provide evidence or other information about what you will use it for. For example, if you say you need a personal day for surgery, your employer may require a doctor's note to confirm the claim.

What is a reasonable reason for a day off? ›

The best last-minute excuses to miss work include personal illness, family emergency, doctor's appointments, child care, mental health challenges, death of a loved one, and household problems. In fact, any unforeseen circumstance that requires your attention is among the best last-minute excuses to miss work.

How soon after starting a job can you ask for time off? ›

The general rule of thumb is likely to wait around three to six months. However, it strongly depends on the organization and their culture. He went on to explain that many companies clearly dictate what their vacation policy is. Some have you accrue more and more time-off the longer you're there.

How do you say very busy in a professional way? ›

There is, after all, a world of difference between being “a little tied up” and being “completely snowed under”.
  1. 10 alternative expressions.
  2. Tied up. Example: I'm a little tied up with this new project. ...
  3. Occupied. ...
  4. Overstretched. ...
  5. Over-extended. ...
  6. Overloaded. ...
  7. Swamped. ...
  8. Snowed under.
May 13, 2019

What is a fancy way of saying you're busy? ›

Some common synonyms of busy are assiduous, diligent, industrious, and sedulous. While all these words mean "actively engaged or occupied," busy chiefly stresses activity as opposed to idleness or leisure.

How do you say I was busy politely? ›

18 Ways to Say Busy
  1. I am busy. The most basic way to express this. ...
  2. I'm as busy as a bee. ...
  3. I'm slammed. ...
  4. I'm so busy (that) I can't even... ...
  5. I'm buried (in work). ...
  6. I'm overwhelmed (with work). ...
  7. I'm up to my ears in work. ...
  8. I've got a lot on my plate.

How do I get time off work for stress and anxiety? ›

How to get a stress leave from work
  1. Step 1: Look up your state's laws. ...
  2. Step 2: Review your employer's policy. ...
  3. Step 3: Consult your healthcare provider. ...
  4. Step 4: Request a doctor's note. ...
  5. Step 5: Time your request appropriately. ...
  6. Step 6: Meet with your human resources department. ...
  7. Step 7: Discuss your options.

How do you ask leave in simple words? ›

Dear Mr./Mrs. {Recipient's Name}, I am writing to request you for a leave of {X days} from {start date} to {end date} since I have to attend to a medical emergency of a close relative. As the relative is situated in Uttrakhand, I will have to be away for {X days}.

How do you ask to leave without being rude? ›

How to Politely Ask Someone to Leave Your House
  1. Be upfront — use “I” statements.
  2. Apologize and thank them.
  3. Invite back for another time.
  4. Be mindful of your tone and body language.
Jun 17, 2022

How much unpaid time off is too much? ›

If you take unapproved time off, the employer does have the right to terminate your employment. Employers are only prohibited from terminating your employment if you take 12 or fewer weeks of unpaid leave in any given year for a protected reason.

Is it wrong to ask for time off? ›

Be open and honest about why you need the time (family in town, etc.), and be clear with your employer that you will make up hours and have any outstanding items in.” Many employers “loan” vacation days to their employees—so it's definitely worth asking.

Can my boss talk to me about work off the clock? ›

It is illegal to ask an employee to work off the clock. Under no circumstances should you work off the clock. Even if your employer did not ask you to, but they are aware of your off-the-clock work and allow it, you should not perform the unpaid duties.

Can your boss ask about your personal life? ›

Key Takeaways. Depending on how they are asked, questions about personal topics, such as marital status, race, and health, can be illegal under federal and some state and local laws. Some types of interview questions can be used to discriminate against applicants, and it is within your rights to refuse to answer them.

How many days off is healthy? ›

While a short vacation can be beneficial for decreasing stress and increasing productivity, Sleep Judge determined that vacations of 11 to 15 days were actually ideal for putting workers in the optimal emotional and physical health to return to work.

How many days off a year is normal? ›

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average number of paid vacation days is 11 days. This average is based on a US employee working in the private sector, with 1 year of service. Taking weekends into account, this works out to just over 2 full weeks of vacation leave per year.

How often does the average person take off work? ›

10 days is the average PTO in the United States private sector, not including paid holidays and sick days. 55% of Americans don't use all of their paid time off.

How far in advance should you ask for PTO? ›

Once you commit to taking a vacation, ensure that you let your manager and team know at least two-three weeks ahead of time. Be considerate to not overlap your leaves with too many other team members and figure out who can cover for you when you're out.

How do I email my boss to ask for time off? ›

How to Write an Email To Ask for Time Off
  1. Write a brief, direct subject line. ...
  2. State why you're writing. ...
  3. Include the dates that you're requesting. ...
  4. Mention why you're taking time off (optional). ...
  5. Discuss how you're preparing. ...
  6. Make yourself available for questions.
Jan 12, 2023

Are bosses allowed to ask why you're using PTO? ›

Can an employer ask me why I want time off? Employers can ask why an employee is asking for time off. In fact, that question is pretty common on a standard Time Off Request or when requesting an extended Leave of Absence. However, an employee generally does not have to answer the question if they do not want to.

What is a fair PTO policy? ›

Employees who have worked at [company name] for less than five years earn four hours of PTO for every two weeks of full-time work. Annual accrual will equal 13 days per year. Employees who have worked for [company name] for more than five years earn eight hours for every two weeks of full-time work.

Is it OK to negotiate more PTO? ›

Negotiate when you get the job offer

This is the ideal time to angle for more PTO. When you're offered a job (congrats!), the first thing you should do is almost always ask for more money. But if they say no, you should definitely counter by asking about more vacation days.

How do you ask for a day off on short notice template? ›

Example 1:

I want to request time off for [specific dates/times]. The reason is [short one sentence explanation]. I appreciate your taking this into consideration on such short notice. My team is working on [this assignment] with a tentative delivery date of [date] even with my absence.

How do you politely ask for leave for a day? ›

Instead, politely and concisely say, “I need to take the day off for personal reasons. I'm so sorry. I'll be in tomorrow.” Use the “personal reasons” explanation if you want a mental health day but don't feel like your supervisor will respect your needs.

Is it unprofessional to ask to leave work early? ›

Ultimately, you should be honest about why you want or need to leave early. Although it depends on your company's culture, as long as you are in good standing and your supervisor is a rational, empathetic person, he or she will understand the situation and grant a request to leave early now and then.

How much PTO is normal? ›

Average Vacation/PTO Time Most Businesses Offer

14 days paid vacation. 2 days paid personal leave. 8 days paid sick leave.


2. 5 Tips to Fit Professional Development into a Busy Work Schedule
(Debbie Peterson of Getting to Clarity)
3. Burned Out, Resentful, and Busy All The Time? You Might Be an OVERFUNCTIONER
(Crappy Childhood Fairy)
4. The Fastest Way to Recover from Burnout
(Kati Morton)
5. How to LOSE WEIGHT with a BUSY LIFESTYLE | Stay On Track When You Have NO TIME
6. Why I Quit My Corporate Job & Took an Adult Gap Year (aka Mid-Career Break)
(Thinh 'Tawn' Le)


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