How I Take a Day Off Every Week

Well, not really EVERY week. As you climb the ranks, it can seem harder to use all the time off you’re given. You feel pressure to be visible. Your partner may not have the same number of days.

The list of excuses can go on and on. And in my long career, I’ve used all of them. When I was starting out and focused on climbing the ladder, I was the quintessential work martyr. You know who I’m talking about: the person who takes on more than they have the time for, thinks no one can do the job as well, and rarely (if ever) takes a day off.

Thankfully, I had my aha! moment and made a change—for the sake of my family and my personal well-being. Part of that change was to make scheduling time off mandatory—and in doing so, it started to feel like fun instead of a chore.

As the kids have left the nest, my wife and I have started our own traditions: a vacation in the winter to go somewhere warm, around Memorial Day to kick off summer, and a last hurrah as summer fades away around Labor Day.

But even with these planned vacations, I still have days I need to use. A few years ago, I decided to make long weekends with summer Fridays. I’m a passionate boater, whether it’s cruising the Chesapeake Bay with friends or fishing with my dad and son, I am happiest when I’m on the water.

Summer Fridays are made for being out on the water.
My favorite kind of sunset on a Summer Friday.

Taking summer Fridays allows me to get an extra day on the water without spilling into our already-packed weekends. Throughout July and August, I block Fridays on my calendar so my team knows I’m out of the office. As end of the week approaches, I’m sure to check-in with my team so work can move forward in my absence.

Every now and again, a Friday on the water turns into a “baycation” stretching over the weekend at some destination on the Chesapeake or anchored out in a secluded creek, while enjoying the wildlife, hanging with friends, or (yes, you guessed it) grabbing the tackle box and going fishing.

These days off are critical to achieving balance for me, ensuring my days at work are both effective and productive. They also give me a chance to recharge my batteries, clear my body of work-related stress, and orient my perspective.

I recognize that not everyone has the time off available to take every Friday off. But I encourage you to plan your time off so you can use what you earn—I guarantee it’s worth it. 

August 4, 2015