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How to navigate paid time off in today’s digital age

How to navigate paid time off in today’s digital age

Finding a balance between accomplishing everything you want or need to do and getting enough rest can be a challenge in itself. Oftentimes the desire to succeed professionally takes precedence and it is important to remember that the quality of work and the pleasure you get from it depends on your ability to rest properly.

In order to understand how to optimize your vacation while making it restful and refreshing, we have asked four people at Transcenda about the strategies they use to get the best out of their time off over the holidays.

Taras Osadchyi, Project Manager

For a good work-life balance, I recommend taking a leave at least once per quarter. It can be anything between a long weekend and a full two-week vacation—the key aspect here is to shift your location and get out of the routine. As you plan a vacation you need to outline all of the activities that will take place before or during your leave and delegate where possible. This needs to be done two or three weeks in advance, so that colleagues that fill in also have time to align their schedules and prepare.

During vacation, it’s important to remember the goal—to rest and switch your environment. I turn off my email and Slack notifications but leave one channel in case of major emergencies. For example, my colleagues know that I am available on Telegram.

Coming back from vacation, the first thing is to check the status of the tasks you delegated. Also, a great tip is not to schedule meetings on the first day of your return so that you have time to communicate, figure out current priorities, and adjust the rest of your week accordingly. It is natural that a lot of people will take a vacation during the Holiday Season. Therefore, you must make sure to leave your product in the best working condition for this time. Otherwise, you might end up in a situation where you don’t have the capacity to fix it or your updates might be under review for longer periods of time.

Oleksii Nefedchenko, Product Manager

In my current role, I combine Product and Project Management responsibilities, so in order to take a full vacation I usually prepare in advance. The more thorough you are at this stage, the less distracted you’ll be on your vacation as you won’t have to worry about a task hanging in limbo.

For me, taking some time off isn’t enough, you actually have to dedicate this time to something that is out of your routine. Otherwise, it’s easy to let your mind wander, and in a lot of cases, it will wander to your work. I am not one of the lucky people who totally disconnects from work. Usually, I devote a few minutes of my time to checking my inbox and messaging for any signs of disruption. This also saves time when I return, as I am already aware of the processes that were happening when I was out.

To better navigate your time on and off work, I recommend using Focus features on your devices. During work hours I have my Work Focus, filtering out the notifications from social media, personal messaging, etc.—and when my core hours end, Personal Focus turns on and mutes all of the work-related activities.

I think the best advice for work-life balance is to have a clear timeframe of when you perform your responsibilities. This rule will help you stay motivated and productive, especially in the long-term.

Sergey Zahranychnyi, Senior Python Engineer

I’d say that good knowledge-sharing processes within the company contributes greatly to the work-life balance of each team member.

First of all, it’s a good practice for personal and career development. Secondly, there is always someone who is familiar with your expertise and can cover your responsibilities in case of emergencies or during your time off. Even with a backup, you still have to plan in advance and finish your tasks before vacation. Your professionalism is not measured by the amount of time you spend at your desk, but by the quality of your work.

I believe that you can truly rest only when you change your surroundings for a while. Of course, there can be exceptions, but I usually plan trips for my vacations and recommend it to everyone.

I like that Transcenda encourages us to take time off. It’s a common practice here to add a few days of PTO to your weekend and unwind. There was a time when I felt uncomfortable taking a vacation when the rest of my team stayed at the office. Now I clearly understand that this time is an investment in my well-being, motivation, and productivity.

Avrora Shuhalii, Lead Product Designer

During vacation, for me, the key is to keep my mind off work and avoid the background tension associated with it. Planning helps me a lot here. I arrange my time off at least a month in advance, closing tasks, and delegating my responsibilities.

When vacation time comes I make sure to disconnect from work as much as possible and avoid topics related to it. Personally for me, this also means no Youtube videos – as I learn a lot about product design here. Instead, I read fiction and experience new places.

Coming back from vacation, I collect the status updates on my projects and arrange my schedule accordingly. On your first day back you might end up in an overwhelming situation when you have a lot of project updates—and it’s important not to blame yourself but give yourself time to adjust.

My recommendation for a healthy work-life balance is to not overwork or overthink. For sure, sometimes there can be exceptions, but in general, stick to your core working hours. Physical activities also work well for me. The point is to get your body to move and keep your mind off of work. Normally I go to the gym or for a walk, but currently my favorite activity is decorating the house for Winter Holidays.

Winter Holidays is the season when people spend the most time with their families and friends, so work distractions have to be minimized. Also, it provides a great chance to express appreciation and thank your team for all of the amazing work done and time spent together.

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