I Didn’t Do Vacation Right

by Emily Jasper on April 8, 2009

Last week, I was “supposedly” on vacation. It was so supposedly, that after six hours of flying home, I came straight into the office to put in eight more hours of work. Since then, I have been working nonstop, and my poor Google Reader hates me.

But is this really a bad thing?

I’ve talked about in previous posts how I really have no work/life balance. Work is my life right now, and since I’m still employed when many aren’t as fortunate, I’m happy to keep it up there on the priority list. I think what has been difficult for me can be demonstrated in the equation below:

(Time Preparing for Vacation + Make Up Work After) > Time Spent on Vacation

Time Preparing for Vacation: Since I’m still a people-pleaser, I went out of my way to prepare a “While I’m Gone” list for my team, in addition to completing every task possible ahead of time. That way, no one would panic while I was gone (for a whole four days). This included some 60+ hour weeks, and lots of weekend time.

Make Up Work After: Upon my return, it seemed as if I had a whole second job waiting for me. This shouldn’t be surprising, I was expecting something to happen while I was out, but shifting responsibilities with no clear direction means you spend a lot of time figuring stuff out. That extra time, added to your current workload, can add frustration to your day. Additionally, my boss went on a two week vacation to a country far, far away…with no internet access. She left me in charge, and we’ll just say that doesn’t come with the perks everyone might think.

Greater Than: For anyone who doesn’t remember math, that’s what > means.

Time Spent on Vacation: So, I was out four days. My “While I’m Gone” list didn’t seem to help because people still panicked. In the middle of the toast I’m making to my friend (the Bride) at the rehearsal dinner, I can hear my Blackberry going crazy in my purse with emails. While conducting calls and answering emails in between all the wedding-ness, I felt bad. Not because I might have been distracted when it’s my friend’s big day (lucky for a Saturday ceremony), but because I wasn’t getting to really take time off.

In answering my earlier question, I would say “Yes, this was a bad thing.” I had really needed to detox from some of my work obligations, and let the ship run without me. In order for my own health and sanity, these days were going to reboot me for the next month as I did a hard push to get through trade show season.

But at the same time, I’m afraid to let things go on autopilot. If they can, who’s to say I’m needed when I come back? When job security is so uncertain for many people, the fear of leaving and coming back unneeded is terrifying.

I didn’t get my detox.

You know how people say, “I need a vacation from my vacation”? Well, I need one because my vacation didn’t work.

So do I take another vacation? Do I not worry about all the prep for my team? Do I leave the Blackberry at home?

What do you do?

The views expressed in my blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

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