Ever since I’ve graduated from college I have been lucky to have jobs that give me paid time off. For those unfamiliar with the term, paid time off is often a combination of sick and vacation days that you can use whenever you want according to your organizations’ policies. I’ve had varying amounts of paid time off at each job I’ve held but I never managed to take it all. Can you tell I’m an American?
My Paid Time Off Dilemmas
Like many Americans, I have problems taking my paid time off. At my first company I saved it up because, well, I’m a saver at heart. I figured I should save some in case I ever needed it randomly. I did take about half of my allotted time but the rest went into my banked hours. I moved a few states away after a year at the job and my remaining paid time off was paid to me in a vacation check. It was nice to get the check, but I often wonder if I would have enjoyed the time off more.
At my second job I had intended to take every single one of my paid time off days. Shortly after I started I found out there many employees at my new job had maxed out paid time off accounts and it took 200 hours to get to that point. This was going to be a problem. I knew going into this job I wouldn’t be able to take time off from January to April because I was a accountant and tax season means long hours and no time off. I planned to take a bunch of time off in the summer when my girlfriend was moving in with me after she graduated from college.
Guess when a giant project came up? Right when I had planned on taking my vacation! To make a long story short the project was supposed to last all summer. This wasn’t a huge problem as I figured I’ll just take my vacation in the fall and winter! Then the project ballooned into the fall! I did end up taking a few days off in November/December but I had a ton of time built up leading into tax season again. I didn’t get to take all of my paid time off that year.
I once again got a check for my vacation hours when I left job #2 for my current job. It turned out job #2 just wasn’t a good fit for me. This time it wasn’t my fault though, I couldn’t take my time due to my crazy schedule. I honestly wanted to take my paid time off but I just didn’t get the chance.
I Have Once Again Run Into a Problem
Now that I am on job #3 I finally have an incentive to take all of my time off each year. My current company has a use it or lose it policy. If I have any time left when 2012 turns into 2013 I lose it! YIKES!
This time it isn’t my company preventing me from taking time off. I realized I’m subconsciously saving my vacation up again in case I need it later in the year! Granted I wasn’t eligible for paid time off until mid year, but I haven’t even taken a single day off yet. D’oh! I have plans to take all but 4 days at this point but I can’t come up with anything to do the other 4 days. It’ll likely just be a couple three or four day weekends but I guess I’m OK with that.
So how am I going to solve this problem for next year? I’m already trying to plan out my vacation for 2013! The problem is I can’t decide if I should take mostly long weekends or a whole week off a couple times during the year…
So can you help me out? How do you take your paid time off? In big lumps or just a 3 day weekend here or there?