Time Management

Blackbeard’s Castle in St. Thomas USVI

A very interesting phenomenon happens this time of year in the corporate world, as people try to use up their “carryover” vacation time – time that they weren’t able to use in the previous year when it was allocated.  Most of us get a set allotment of Paid Time Off (“PTO”) each year, and it usually must cover any reason that a person needs to take off, such as vacation, illness, parent-teacher conferences, etc.  In some cases, employers allow unused vacation time to be “carried over” into the next year, and it usually needs to be used by a certain date or it is forfeited.  In my company, that “use it or lose it” date is March 15.

Colorful building in New Smyrna Beach Florida

Kathy & I tend to think of carryover PTO in the same way we think about leftover wine or saving for our kids’ inheritance.  “Why would we do that?” 😉 We use every day our employers give us and would gladly take more if we could, whether paid or unpaid.  And we never have any trouble using it.  The trouble comes when we have to strategize over how to get our travel done in the time we’re allotted.  We’re always coming up short!

Blackbeard’s Castle in St. Thomas USVI
Wandering the streets of St Thomas, USVI

The “phenomenon” I spoke of is that all those people who couldn’t figure out how to use their PTO time during last year are suddenly inspired to use it all up in the first few months of this year.  We’ve got people taking off Fridays and Mondays in January, February and part of March, and a few of them actually manage to take whole weeks off.  In some cases these are the same people who managed to be off for two whole weeks at the end of the year just to get their carryover “down” to the amount that they could actually carry over.  I’ve offered to help people with travel planning but for some reason no one ever takes me up on it! 🙂

Lifeguard station in New Smyrna Beach, Florida

The downside for me is that I often end up being asked to cover for the people who are off.  And since managers are generally among the people who are impacted, the usual limits on the number of people who can be off at any one time are largely waived.  And we’re generally busier this time of year than we are in other parts of the year, so there is more work to do then there is, say, over the Christmas holiday.  But for the most part I don’t mind, because I always feel like I’ve gotten the most out of my time when I’ve taken it.  And I certainly wouldn’t want to be off over the Christmas & New Year holidays – it’s a lousy time to travel, you can’t go anywhere because everyone who is off work is out shopping, and then I wouldn’t have that time to use when I want it!

Wandering the streets of St Thomas, USVI

Now I don’t intend to make fun of or condemn people for this.  In a number of cases there are good reasons and it is completely justified, as in they have to save days for child care, their personal situations (money, health, caring for another, etc.) require that they hold back time or other reasons.  The sad thing is that a lot of people don’t actually manage to do anything with their time off.  They just do whatever it is they usually do on a weekend, they just do it longer.  Maybe I just don’t get it, but like with a lot of things I just like my way better.  And as long as other peoples’ way works for them, it’s nothing for me to get worked up over.  But I do admit to a certain amount of smug satisfaction when I sit at my desk in March and think about all the fun things I’m going to do with my own PTO.  And I have plenty of work to do so the time goes faster!

Wandering the streets of St Thomas, USVI
Blackbeard’s Castle in St. Thomas USVI

4 thoughts on “Time Management”

  1. I now have a few extra of those PTO days available the last thre of years. It makes me smile when I read about the trips you two venture on, even just a get-a-way for the weekend. Travel will change who we are and how we see all of creation. Our minds will expand as will our understanding and acceptance of people. So, my favorite image is the third one with to open window looking out across the town and harbor.

    1. Since we know we’ll never inherit any money or win the lottery (you have to play first, right?) we understand that our ability to venture will always be limited by either time or money. Right now we’re trying to make the best use of both, ideally so we’ll still have more of one when we finally get the other, whichever comes first!

  2. Yelp, back in the day sometimes I’d come up with days I had to “burn” so as not to lose them. Sometimes it’s a matter of more days then money…often my case…so I’d create some of those long weekends. I agree, perhaps not the best use, but at the time appreciated all the same. 🙂

    You guys are using those days well!

    1. I have no idea why, but your comment got hung up in my Spam queue! I got notified of the new comment – which I hadn’t been getting for a while, but it looked like it had been approved. Sorry about that!

      Kathy & I joke about the unused vacation thing, but recognize that some people just need to keep a reserve while others just don’t share our priorities. We do like to think we are using our time well, and since our esteemed leader seems intend on screwing with our health care options, we may decide to keep collecting the paychecks and discounted coverage for a while longer. Although it’s probably just a matter of time until our employers decide that health care is no longer a benefit they want to provide when they aren’t forced to.

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