A Weekly ComputorEdge Column by Douglas E. Welch




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How to take a vacation

by Douglas E. Welch

May 14, 1999

While you might smile at the title of today?s column I can guarantee you that some time in your high-tech career you will be faced with a dilemma over when or how to take a vacation. It seems that the jobs that most cause a need for a vacation are often the hardest to leave. Unfortunately, not taking vacation can have adverse effects on your performance and even threaten your ability to do a good job.

Go, go, go

In today?s hyperactive high-tech business world, taking a vacation can be seen as employment suicide. Managers and co-workers may look down their nose at you and think that you lack commitment. It is important to remember though that vacations are not just a legal right but also an important necessity to ensuring the long time success of any company.

People who work for years without any vacation at all, even a three-day weekend will soon find themselves burnt out and possibly even experiencing minor and major health problems. We all need a break from the hyperactive pace of business.

Life will go on

The first thing to remember about vacations is the fact that life will go on. Companies rarely fall apart just because someone takes a vacation. We might like to think that we are the cornerstone of our company but the hard truth is that anyone can get away for a while without causing major damage. Other employees can cover your duties for a short time. If they truly can?t, then you haven?t done your job of preparing for your absence.

Often it is your own insecurity that prevents you from taking a vacation. You are afraid that work will not get done, systems will fail and all the blame will fall on your shoulders when you return. If you make the right preparations and trust your co-workers or staff you can take a vacation with a clear mind.

When not to go

There are a few times when taking a vacation can be troublesome. If your company is about to launch a new product or is working on some large partnership it probably isn?t a good time to take off for the beach. These are unstable times when your skills might be called on at a moment?s notice. If this is the case, though, you need to find a time after these events when you will be able to take a vacation. Too often, we jump from crisis to crisis and discover only years later that we haven?t had a vacation. In times like these planning for a vacation is as important as actually taking one.


Before you leave on your vacation make sure your co-workers, managers or staff are well prepared. You should communicate exactly what goals should be accomplished while you are away so that they are not left without work until you return. Co-workers should have clear details of the tasks you perform on a daily or weekly basis and any other important upcoming events that might occur while you are gone.

Make sure that you provide everyone with contact names and numbers of people they can turn to for assistance should something out of the ordinary happen. You should also provide emergency contact numbers , if you are visiting a place that is accessible. You must be very careful in detailing what is considered an emergency. Usually this is something that directly effects the bottom line of a company. Anything less should be able to wait until your return. Better yet, your co-workers or staff should be able to make the decision without you.

If you feel that your job security is threatened by simply taking a vacation it is probably time to start looking for a new job. Any good company understands the importance of a vacation. We all need a time to recharge our batteries and reflect on our lives. This allows us to come back to our work with a renewed vigor and sometimes a renewed view of exactly what we are trying to accomplish in our work and our lives.

Douglas E. Welch is a freelance writer and computer consultant in Van Nuys, California. Readers can discuss career issues with other readers by joining the Career Opportunities Discussion on Douglas' web page at: http://www.welchwrite.com/

He can reached via email at douglas@welchwrite.com