There’s Nothing ‘Semi’ About Vacation!

I got an email from someone the other day who said she was taking a “semi-vacation” day. I don’t know about you guys, but when I think of vacation I think of sand, sun, and adult beverages with umbrellas. There’s nothing “semi” about it. And one thing is for sure, you’re not getting an Email from me.

Truth be told, I’m not really as good at this as I’d like to be. But this got me thinking (momentarily). Why was she compelled to qualify her time-off as “semi”?  Maybe to unload some guilt, maybe just to act the martyr. I see this behavior all the time, though. How often have you heard some semblance of “I’m going to be on vacation next week, but I’ll be plugged in.” Plugged in? W…T…F. Some will say, “it’s just easier to stay connected because it’ll otherwise be too much to come back to.” That sounds like death by a thousand pin-pricks to me. Masochism!

Why do we feel this way? Are we required to justify our time away from the office? Do we really feel guilty or are we just playing the game? Does this make us feel weak? Are we afraid someone will take our jobs if we’re gone? Unfortunately, senior leaders in the organization – the ones who are supposed to set the tone – are typically the ones most apt to act this way. Which means it’s an endless cycle.

So help break the cycle. Next time you go on vacation, recite the following to anyone who will listen:

1)      I’m not going to be in the office for the next [insert time frame] because I’m taking some well-deserved vacation time.

b)      I worked really hard to wrap up open items and loose ends before signing off

3)      I’m pretty sure anything that comes up between now and then can wait until I get back

4)      I’m going to put my Blackberry in my sock drawer and won’t hear it ring, buzz, or vibrate at all

5)      None of this means I don’t love my job, it just means I also love my life

f)      It’s important that I really disconnect from this place so I can totally recharge and come back with a bang – ready to be productive and fully engaged in what I hope will be a long career here

7)      I’m grateful that you care enough about my health and well-being to let me take this uninterrupted rest

8)      Thanks so much for your patience and understanding…and then…

Seeeeeeeeeeeeeee yaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Image Credit: Elect Wellness

  • Chris Ferdinandi – Renegade HR


    Will your 8 step message be making it into an Out-of-Office message? That’d be awesome.

    Merlin Mann once posted an amazing out-of-office message on It said something to the effect of, “I’m on vacation until DATE. When I return, I’ll be deleting all of the email I received while I was out. If your request is important, please send it again after I return. Thanks!”
    Chris Ferdinandi – Renegade HR´s last [type] ..You Have 3 Options

  • Richie Coladarci

    Great points. And here’s one more… an argument can be made that an employee on a “semi” vacation might actually be doing a disservice to the company and his colleagues. Should they include him on emails? Should they expect a response? If so, what’s a reasonable amount of time to wait for his response before the group can make a decision?
    A person needs to recharge. Let’s let that blackberry do the same.

  • Joni Thomas Doolin

    Charlie I just forwarded this to my team – and am now reciting the mantra until I get it right :-) Thank you – and have a wonderful holiday and hopefully some real vacation time.

  • Jay Kuhns

    Terrific message Charlie. Time for some self-disclosure…I am always plugged in. New Year, New Plan…time to let my Droid take a break once in a while too. Thanks for bringing some balance to our over-achieving world.
    Jay Kuhns´s last [type] ..Power Post – Are You ThankfulAhead of Time

  • Charlie

    I’m hoping to wrap things up today and to do exactly what I suggest we all do above by including these bullet points in my out-of-office message and by sending some semblance of the same to my boss. I hope you all have a great break…and thanks for the comments.
    Charlie´s last [type] ..A New Leadership Philosophy- Burn the “Two Letters”

  • Dave Ryan

    Not all that different than Chris’ comment, I often tell people this, although it is tongue in cheek. Upon my return I will be deleting all of the emails I received while I was out… just because you sent it doesn’t mean I got it. I will delete all voice mails because I am inept. And I will be throwing away all of the US Mail I received. If any of these are “really” important, they will get resent or there will be a follow-up phone call.

    Now I don’t really do that, but sometime I would like to. – Great piece Charley – Happy Holidays
    Dave Ryan´s last [type] ..Project Social Green HR Making Money

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  • Enid Ballard

    Terrific message Charlie. Time for some self-disclosure…I am always plugged in. New Year, New Plan…time to let my Droid take a break once in a while too. Thanks for bringing some balance to our over-achieving world.

  • Jessica Miller-Merrell


    I like this, and I will say that when I had Ryleigh and was out on maternity leave I had a semi-maternity leave. In fact, I actually returned from maternity leave 2 days earlier than I told my team so I could go through the more than 12,000 emails I had received. Yes, I had an out of office memo. The company I worked for was ridiculous. I didn’t answer my phone unless it was the attorney calling. You wouldn’t believe some of the desperate phone calls my team got from managers who were trying to get in touch with me.

    Checking out for personal time is a two way street. I took 10 well-deserved weeks off to be with my new baby. My company and the people I work with should have the common courtesy to respect my time and allow me the time off, vacation time, sick days, maternity leave, or just LOA to quietly do whatever I need to do.

    Good reminder.

    Jessica Miller-Merrell´s last [type] ..5 Ways to Jumpstart Your Job Search

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