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Lesson #16: Take that time off. Your work can wait.
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Take that time off. Your work can wait.
If you were expecting a newsletter last week, here’s why you didn’t get one: I took some actual time off! Taking PTO as a leader can be especially challenging when you feel the burden of making sure everything continues to get done on time. What if there’s a fire when you’re out? What if someone has questions that need answering and they get blocked on their work?
When you don’t take time off, you’re modeling this behavior for your team. If you expect them to take time off, you need to be taking time off too. Like… actual time off. Not responding to Slack direct messages or threads where you’re tagged.
Here’s me ~8 months apart:
October 2022: I’m taking 10 days off to go to northern Spain for my birthday. Halfway through the trip I’m taking a work call in the middle of nowhere in Spain (sitting outside at a restaurant) and sending a very nondescript message to all of our engineering org that caused more harm than good. Vacation? What vacation?
July 2023: I’m taking two weeks off to travel around the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. I deleted Slack off my phone and signed out of my email. My team has my number if something is absolutely urgent, but nobody reached out. They handled an outage, they worked through some scheduling changes on projects that needed extra time, and kept Jira up to date in my absence. I’ll find out what did and didn’t get done when we meet for our bi-weekly sprint planning today.
I keep seeing this tweet float around social media:
One of the best lines I’ve ever read in an OOO email, courtesy of one that I just received: “If this is urgent, take a deep breath because few things really are.” THAT energy.
As a leader, you need to model what should happen when you take time off. As in… not a thing. Nothing should happen. You should enjoy your vacation.
If you’re technically on vacation but showing up to meetings and responding to Slack messages, you’re demonstrating to your team that perhaps they should be doing the same thing when they take time off. And to be clear, I’m still guilty of this on occasion.
So take that time off – and enjoy it.
What I’m reading
I haven’t started The Phoenix Project yet, but I did read the following leisure books on vacation (yes, I read a lot):
Beyond the Veil (Zodiac Academy #8.5)
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
Royally in Trouble (Royal #2)
The Poppy War
I highly recommend Yellowface and Shoe Dog if you haven’t read them yet.
Check out the full book list for recommendations and an ever-growing reading list.
Note: Links to books in this section are affiliate links to help support the purchase of the rest of my books :)
What I’m working on
I’m catching up on anything I missed during my time off, replying to 900 Slack messages, prepping for an executive review, and prepping for our company office in a few weeks!
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