Why I’m tracking my vacation time part 2

In part 1, I set out to track how many days I took off from work. It’s been successful thus far in that I am tracking the time. It’s been unsuccessful in me actually taking time off though.

I took a step back today and have implemented a couple of things to help make sure I remain balanced for the long term. One of these is tracking my vacation time.

As of last week, I had officially only taken 10.5 days off (including holidays, sick days, vacation days, etc.). Apparently, I don’t get sick often and must really hate holidays and DEFINITELY don’t do vacations. This is terrifying and I only found that this seems to be a widespread problem.

According to the study, in 2013 U.S. employees took an average of 16 days of vacation, compared with an average of 20.3 days as recently as 2000.CNN Article titled “Americans taking fewest vacation days in four decades”

Americans work more than anyone in the industrialized world. More than the English, more than the French, way more than the Germans or Norwegians. Even, recently, more than the Japanese.ABC News Article

Here I was months ago thinking that by just tracking my vacation time I’d prevent myself from falling into this problem. I didn’t. Here’s why:

By JUST tracking my time off, I wasn’t proactive about actually taking time off. 

I had nothing in place to actually push me to take the time off I needed to take and wanted to track.

The new plan is this: I have a repeating calendar reminder in place that will go off on the 1st of each month asking me to take time off. I purposefully have the reminder as a question rather than a task because I’ve found it’s harder for me to ignore a question that forces me to look at myself and my life.

cal reminder

The second part of my plan has been a mad dash to actually take time off. I sat down a couple of days ago and listed days when it seemed it would be good to have some time away from the computer screen. Maybe when I go home to Florida I can take some time off to help my parents around the house or to spend the day with my grandma? Maybe I can go bike that trail I’ve been wanting to? Maybe I can finally read those books I’ve been meaning to read? Maybe I can sit in bed and watch netflix all day 😉 ? Once some days were decided upon, I checked with my team and have started taking time off. Thoughts turning into actions.

Looking back, it’s obvious that I should have done this sooner (set a calendar reminder at the least). Why didn’t I think of it? I’m not sure if it’s part of the US culture of go go go or if it’s that I’m living in San Francisco and feel like I constantly need to be doing something. It could be that it’s so easy to work remotely that sometimes it doesn’t feel like work when I’m answering tickets or p2 posts before I go to bed. Forgetting we’re human is, well, part of being human. It’s these moments when you can track what you’ve done (or not done) and reflect that can help create some needed changes. With that said, moderation is key: I’m not someone who believes in tracking all the things all the time. At a certain point, tracking is just idle information unless it’s relevant to you and your goals. In the same way, I only try to spend money where I spend my time I also believe in doing the same thing for tracking. I’ll track the big things: how often I work out, time off, sleep, money spent. I won’t track how many steps I’ve walked. I won’t track calories. At a certain point, I believe tracking can turn into stress induced improvements which isn’t really an improvement at all or a way that I want to improve at least.


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4 responses to “Why I’m tracking my vacation time part 2”

  1. […] in productivity”. Why did this happen? UX not HX. In the same way I can’t just measure my vacation time and expect that this will be enough for me to actually take the time off, we have to be aware of […]

  2. Hi! I am really interested in Automattic and I cant stop reading their employees’ blog, one question that has been around my mind recently is: do you work monday to monday or do you take saturdays and sundays off?

    • It varies week to week 🙂 Some folks on my team work a normal Monday to Friday week. Some work Tuesday to Saturday. Some work Sunday to Thursday. Some work 4 days a week but longer days!

  3. Interesting to see your thoughts on this Anne. It’s something that Europeans view pretty differently. In the UK we have legally mandated 4 weeks paid leave per year, plus about another week of public holidays. In my previous job I had about 6 weeks per year – not including sick days

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