When should you use your time off?

Ah, success. You’ve got a steady job that offers a regular paycheck, and along with it, the opportunity to earn paid time off. Life is pretty sweet. But when you have a set amount of time off at your disposal, just when do you take advantage of that vacation time?

Plan your vacations well in advance.

Knowing when you will take your time off has a few distinct advantages. First, it gives you something to look forward to, which can help with your mental health and satisfaction at work.

Second, arranging your travel plans ahead of time gives you the chance to get things in order at work. You’ll rest easier on vacation if you spend time preparing the office for your absence, and everything will run more smoothly for your coworkers and superiors while you’re gone.

Prioritize sick days.

It happens to the best of us — a friend suggests you call in sick for work and attend an event or go to the beach for the day. The temptation to call in sick may be there, but resist the urge and try to plan a fun outing during the weekend or non-work hours. By saving your sick days, you’ll be better prepared if and when you need some time off for personal or health reasons.

Negotiate your time off​ during the hiring process​.

The best time to lay out the terms for your time off is during negotiations in the hiring process. If you know that you would prefer a little more flexibility in your work week, ask for the option to take approved unpaid time off, once your PTO is depleted. Or, negotiate for bonuses in the form of extra time off.

For those who are planning to become pregnant or whose partner is planning a pregnancy, the topic of maternity and paternity leave should be discussed with any future employer. Current employees can speak with Human Resources representatives to learn more about individual company policies.

Knowing when to take time off requires some thought and planning. Of course, unexpected surprises can mean taking a day off here or there, but having a plan helps maintain a balance between time spent at work and time spent at home.