If you’re not familiar with the term PTO (paid time off), you can replace that word with vacation time or sick time. At my current company, I get two pots of time – vacation time and sick/personal time.
And each year, I hoard my sick/personal time.
I mean, who knows when a sickness is going to get you?! I could use it for the random doctor’s appointments, orthodontist appointment, pediatrician appointments, eye doctor appointments, and the other NOT FUN appointments that pop up on my schedule, but usually I just end up working extra hours elsewhere (work’s gotta get done, amiright?) and it balances out.
So, towards the end of the year, I inevitably get an email from my HR person telling me I’m only able to carry over a certain number of hours and it’s use it or lose it time.
Last year I got so busy that in January, they paid me out for extra time because I hadn’t used it and reached my carryover limit.
Look. I love me some surprise extra money. BUT I LOVE TIME OFF MORE!
This year I made a plan – starting in September, I make sure to take at least one day off a month as a sick/personal day.
Whether it’s a day that I made a doctor’s appointment, a mental health day or whatever… I look at my calendar at the beginning of the month and BLOCK THAT DAY OFF. Then, when my personal day comes up. I take a personal day. To myself. With my PTO because I EARNED IT.
Yes, I know there’s lots of caps lock, but I get heated about this. We work and earn time off, so we should not feel bad about taking that earned time off.
I do realize how lucky I am to have PTO when there are many people out there in positions that don’t compensate them with days off. However, I also realize that I fall into the trap of thinking I’m just so important that I can’t take a day off without the office burning to the ground. Which is frankly not true for the majority of us.
So yes, if we EARN time off, we should TAKE that time off.
If your company is strict that sick days should be used for sick days or doctor’s appointments — schedule your doctor’s appointment in the afternoon and enjoy the rest of the day off. However, you’re a dang grownup and you can use your time however you want. I’m a firm believer in a mental health day that centers around not working.
I needed a reminder, so I’m giving you a reminder too. TAKE YOUR TIME. Plan around it. Protect it. And if you’re super smart – plan that sick/personal day for a day when your kid is in school so you truly have it all to yourself.