Earlier this year, I asked to keep the planned holidays with hesitation and a thick apology in my voice. In what is becoming a running joke, 2020 is arguably my #TravelYear, with short trips planned for March, April, May, and June. So when the first weekend was going to be my long run in the first wave of mass layoffs, and I felt like my mind was cleared, I felt incredibly guilty. No one tells you how to take a break during a global pandemic.
The ability to ask for time off right now is not a luxury for everyone. The people who work in need, the people who maintain the front line, the people who simply need the money – they don’t have time to rest right now. Not everyone’s life is the same. But if the only thing holding you back is guilt, if you take days off during reserve, and/or if your life is a mess of responsibilities, breathe a sigh of relief. ”
“You absolutely should ask and take time off during these difficult times,” said career coach Erin Hatzikostas. Keep in mind that most people on the planet know and feel the impact of this crisis to some extent, including your superiors.
Hatzikostas said, “[Your manager] may understand all too well that you haven’t ‘gone on vacation’ simply because you’re working from home.” “Also, by asking for and taking this time off, you’ll inspire your boss to do the same — remember, they’re human too. It’s more important than ever that people understand that inspiration is a circular reference.”
But how do you consciously and relate to the shaky economic times we are in? Well, first you want to officially announce why you need a day of mental health care or a small day off. Let’s say right now you’re teaching your kids at home and that becomes a huge new burden to sort out, and you’d love to have the time to find a more effective study schedule for them. Or maybe you’re dealing with a sick family member and want some time to focus on it.
Or maybe, and this is a big deal, you really only need a day to appreciate nature or watch Gossip Girl until you feel emotionally ready to look at a spreadsheet. It doesn’t matter, as long as you make it clear that you’re doing this with kindness to both yourself and your workplace.
Hatzikostas said: “Ask for written time so that you can clearly present your ‘case’; This is for you as it is for your boss.” “Mention that you want to take X days off to recover yourself and come back full of energy and get ready for the next sprint.”
If you can plan ahead, you also want to make sure that your immediate responsibilities are taken and keep lines of communication open in the event of an absolute emergency. For example, if you’re going to reuse a few days of sun exposure in Florida to practice some serious TLC, let them know that you’ll complete your workload as best you can.
Hatzikostas says: “Give them your mobile phone to contact you in case of anything urgent and ask your supervisor if there are any concerns or needs from you before you quit your job.”
For example, let’s say I’m taking a day off on a Friday — what I need is to pay attention to my output in the process leading up to it. While we all deserve a break for ourselves, objectively, it’s not fair to give up all responsibility and let colleagues take blame. Again, we’re all going through a hard time!
But overall, the biggest hurdle is overcoming the initial fear of asking in the first place. Take comfort in the way that transparency and compassion can make this scary step easier. And then, take the day! Breathe fresh air! Tell me what’s going to happen to Chuck and Blair!