The Best Time To Use Your PTO Days

Everyday is a good day to use your PTO (Paid Time Off), but that’s not always realistic. Whether you even have PTO or are part of the trendy scams perks of unlimited PTO, there is always the tough decision of when to use them. Do you save them for that grand trip to Hawaii or do you spread them out over epic 3-day weekends with your bro’s? Whatever you choose, make sure you use some days before Memorial Day.

Why before Memorial Day? (For those outside the US, Memorial Day falls on the last Monday in the month of May and is a national holiday.) If you’re like me, you may be lucky to have one corporate holiday between New Years and Memorial Day. Depending on your employer or industry, there may be no time off. That’s five long months without a break. In the Midwest, that could be five long cold months. Thanks a lot, Polar Vortex.

Five months is rough especially in the first of the year. Employees are burning it trying to get off to a good start. Accounting and finance pros are in the thick of their busy season. PTO is not always on the top of your priority list. But you need to take this time away. We are reaching peak “self-care” advice and everyone has an opinion, but the statistics are there. Not allowing for rest and recovery, whether mental or physical, have both short and long-term negative effects.

When you look to plan out your PTO over this time period, don’t always think in one-week increments. Focus on particular days or events. March Madness is coming so take a Thursday or Friday off to watch some hoops. Take a Wednesday to finally join that spin class you’ve been blowing off. Tuesday’s are fine days to plan your new job search to finally leave that miserable job you’re always complaining about. Volunteer in your community or spend a day at your local library. Most importantly, let your co-workers know well in advance. Put it on their calendars and protect your time.

I plan my PTO days every quarter. While I haven’t always been the best and my PTO bank has been full, I’m intentional about the days. Contrary to many beliefs, a PTO bank is not another savings plan from your employer. Those days are earned by you and should be used accordingly.

Sure it would be great to stick it to your company and take that nice PTO payout when you peace out, but chances are, that cash has already been spent. And you probably didn’t bake in a few days off before your next gig because your new employer insisted you start on Monday. Good luck scheduling PTO anytime soon.

Over this weekend, pull out the calendar and plan a day or two off before the end of May. Already taking the kids to hang out with Mickey on spring break? Awesome. And thoughts and prayers to you. Find some time and do something you have always wanted to do and make it happen.

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