♫ Vacation, all I ever wanted. Vacation, had to get away. Vacation, is sometimes a little complicated within the confines of your current employment.♫

I may have ruined the song, but you don’t want to ruin your good standing in your company with improper vacation procedures. It’s that time of the year where we tend to stretch our legs and get away for a while, so let’s break down a few tips on the proper way to take time off from work!

Know Your Company Policy

The very first step in any time off request is to be certain that you know the ins and outs of the vacation policy of your company. Even if you are requesting the time off well in advance, it will reflect poorly on you if you gloss over a policy that would factor into your ability to take days off during a certain period of time. Maybe that’s your busy season or you’ve hit your PTO limit during a specific timeframe—it doesn’t hurt to briefly look over the company handbook to see if there would be anything preventing you from getting your days off!

Give Proper Notice

Once you confirm that your request doesn’t clash with any company policy, it’s time to formally request that time off to your manager. It is extremely important that you submit this request in writing and that you also get the response in writing. Send a clear email with the days off that you’re requesting, and then make sure their response matches up with no room for any misunderstanding to occur in the future. Be positive that you have documentation of the approval just in case there is any confusion leading up to your vacation.

Update Your Calendars

After the approval, get your time off on your calendar, your manager’s calendar, and your team’s calendar. Make sure the information exists somewhere that is accessible to any relevant party. Be sure everyone is on the same page! This will also help prevent too many people within the same department from taking overlapping time off.

Leave With a Clear Inbox, Clear Desk, and Clear Mind

Make certain that you answer any outstanding questions and complete any outstanding assignments before taking off. Do your best not to leave anyone hanging in an email conversation. Obviously, you’ll need to make preparations for everything to go smoothly in your absence. Sometimes this means arming your team will a wealth of information on certain ongoing tasks that they may have to step in and complete while you’re out. It’s better to over-prepare in this situation, especially if you will have limited access to emails or other work communication while on leave!

Let Yourself Actually Enjoy Your Vacation

If you have been approved for a week off, that means you’ve earned it. We’re not machines—sometimes we all just need time away from work to reset! Try your hardest not to take your work with you. If you are a hardworking, valuable piece to the company, your managers will encourage you to use your days off. It’s a little difficult at times to really step away and not feel as if you are somehow “slacking” and neglecting your tasks. But think to yourself: when another colleague is away on vacation, how do you react? Chances are you’re happy for them and have an understanding that they have earned this time away. If needed, give yourself a few minutes to check your emails once a day, but don’t let that snowball unless there is some unique and urgent circumstance. Kick back and enjoy yourself!