5 ways to take time off work

At work today, a fellow consultant expressed amazement that I was planning to take Thursday off after having taken Monday off. He couldn’t understand how I was able to afford to take two days off in an average week – let alone two weeks before I plan on going on vacation.

The simple truth is that I have certain rules that, if anyone follows them, makes taking time off a snap.  I have five, off the top of my head:

1.  Pay yourself first. I save money every month before it hits our bank account.  It’s gone and saved before I even realize it exists.  That makes digging into savings tricky.  It also means that I’m not worried about grubbing for a dollar at the end of the year.

2.  Consider whether you need it. Bubelah and I make dopey purchases – we are not ultra frugal.  At the same time, we do not buy useless things on a regular basis.  It doesn’t take much – try not buying overpromoted fashion and consumer electronics for a while and voila, savings.  A little time off is worth passing on the iPhone, isn’t it?

3.  Pay in cash. I use a credit card, for the sake of cash back bonuses, but for all intents and purposes I pay cash; we wait until we have cash in hand to buy anything.  I mean anything.  We paid cash for a new Honda this year.  I paid cash for new rechargeable batteries today.  We don’t buy anything without the means to pay for it.  We never have to worry about the upcoming credit card bill.

4.  Diversify your income. I blog, and I work on a couple of other income streams.  My “other” streams make up maybe 5% of my income, but at the same time that means I’m making 105% of what I would be making on consulting income alone.  Better than nothing, I think.  But that 5% away from work means I can take 5% off my normal work and still come out even, right?

5.  Pick your battles. I have never understood people who won’t take off a beautiful day in summer.  Listen, 20 years from now that extra $100 for a day’s work won’t make a difference.  A day in the sun making a stab at accomplishing that wee bitty thing called life will be worth it.  Maybe it’s better to stay late in the office in February and ditch in summer.  Consider treating yourself to a short two day beach hiatus. If you live near the east coast, depending on what days of the week you choose, you have a good chance of finding affordable north myrtle beach rentals in Beautiful South Carolina. A little fun in the sun might be just the kind of break you need from work.

I feel sorry for so many of the employees and consultants I see around me who will complain about “needing” to work one minute and then about their new plasma TV the next minute. Not because I think they made a bad choice – because it’s not my place to judge – but because they seem unhappy with their choices.  Nobody is every happy trading their time for crap.  Put yourself in a position where you can forgo money for time and you’ll be a happier person.

  • http://www.thewriterscoin.com Writer's Coin

    Ditto on this. Sometimes taking a day off like this to just enjoy the summer is a great idea. Just make sure you don't sleep in, stay at home and do nothing! Go out there and make it a day you'll remember.

  • http://plonkee.com plonkee

    I take time off all the time. This year instead of selling some of my slowly accumulated extra leave days I decided to take them, and have 1 day a month dedicated to just catching up on home stuff and blogging.

    It's worked really well so far, but then I have 5 weeks standard vacation entitlement. European life is great.

  • http://www.guinness416.com guinness416

    Some people are definitely baffled when one takes time off without going away …. I remember one boss asking what on earth my family at home do with six weeks vacation time a year. The answer, of course, was “all the things you pay contractors and babysitters and maintenance people and the neighbour's kid to do at home; and then they help family members do them too”. But when you're stuck with a miserable ten or fifteen days a year, it's hard not to use it all to get away, no matter where you are on the middle-class net worth ladder; I understand that.

  • http://paradigmshifted.org/ deepali

    i get paid time off. :)

    actually, though, i do tend to work a few extra hours during the week, giving me a few extra hours (or a whole day) to take off without taking leave.

    for my side job, for which i get paid hourly, i deliberately cut off extra hours because you are right, 10 years from now, i'm not going to look back and wish i had gotten those extra $30…

  • ham

    as a consultant i can relate to most of those things…especially taking time off for sanity's sake. im still trying to think about other alternate streams of income

  • bethh

    You didn't explain the whole conversation, but I wonder if you missed his source of amazement? I didn't think it was about money – I thought his amazement was that you could NOT do your WORK for two days this week, and take time off soon – how can you possibly step away from work without it overwhelming you?

    I don't subscribe to this idea that work trumps all other desires and responsibilities, but I thought you were going to give tips about how to step away from work to take time off, paid or otherwise.

    • bripblap

      From the rest of the conversation it was pretty obvious he was amazed I was just walking away from money I could've easily earned.

      I'll probably write about ways to step away from work to take time off another time, but something one of my coworkers told me years ago in the midst of an 80 hour workweek, as he walked out the door at 5 pm, has always rung true: “we're not brain surgeons. Nobody's dead on the operating table tomorrow if we walk away from work tonight.” At least as of 2008 taking vacation is still expected of employees – just do it. If you get fired for taking vacation, it's not the kind of company you'd be working at for the next 40 years anyway…

  • mjw2005

    You are 150% correct…..

    Your comments make so much sense….and like you I see the same things around…mainly people buying $40,000 cars then complaining there broke and always have to go to work….me, I take 2 months of a year…and my co-workers wonder how I can do it…..well I don't buy a lot of stuff and live simply….

    Great oist

    • bubelah

      Some people would rather buy things than go on vacations, take time off. That is what makes them happy. To each it's own, as long as they don't complain ;o)

  • http://smallstepstohealth.com asithi

    Every spring and summer, I work overtime. Instead of getting paid for it, I take it as credit time. So once I am done with the rush at work, I take a week or two off and just bum around the house, going to the movies when everyone else is at work or sitting at the local Starbucks with my journal. That is the only way I can reasonably getting through it knowing that I have the time afterwards to just live life. My co-workers are often amaze that I would “waste my overtime” like this. But seriously, how many new TVs do a person need? My big boxy one works just fine.

  • http://smallstepstohealth.com asithi

    Every spring and summer, I work overtime. Instead of getting paid for it, I take it as credit time. So once I am done with the rush at work, I take a week or two off and just bum around the house, going to the movies when everyone else is at work or sitting at the local Starbucks with my journal. That is the only way I can reasonably getting through it knowing that I have the time afterwards to just live life. My co-workers are often amaze that I would “waste my overtime” like this. But seriously, how many new TVs do a person need? My big boxy one works just fine.