Tips for Maximizing Your PTO

The facts are in and they show that Americans rarely use all of their paid time off (PTO). This past year, it was even worse for healthcare workers on the frontlines of a frightening pandemic that swamped our nation’s hospitals and left many clinical and administrative professionals barely hanging on. Taking time off when COVID was ravaging our communities wasn’t something that was top of mind for most healthcare workers. With quarantine lockdowns in place, it wasn’t like we had places to go, anyway.

As the COVID preventative vaccine begins to shift outcomes, it’s time for America’s healthcare workers to begin to give some time back to themselves. Here’s how healthcare workers can begin to maximize their PTO to feel more refreshed and rejuvenated after what was a very long year.

Give Yourself a Time Out

2021 may be the year you listen to the advice you give patients and take care of yourself. 

According to CNBC, Americans earn more vacation time than they end up using each year. In 2019, U.S. workers forfeited, on average, half of their annual paid time off.  This workaholism is worse today; since COVID hit, the average workday has lengthened by almost an hour, and the majority of workers have shortened, postponed, or canceled their scheduled time off. 

During COVID, many healthcare didn’t even have the luxury of taking time off. The Lancet reports, “Health-care workers have continued to provide care for patients despite exhaustion, personal risk of infection, fear of transmission to family members, illness or death of friends and colleagues, and the loss of many patients.”

Job stressors are common in healthcare, but the COVID-19 pandemic ramped things up across the board in the healthcare field. Burnout symptoms were everywhere in the healthcare workforce, but for most employees, there were no options but to get back in the saddle—and get to work. 

For American healthcare workers, it’s well past time to take time to recharge with a little PTO. Taking time away from work will increase your energy and enthusiasm for the job again. It’s a critical way for you to decompress and lower stress. To maximize your PTO, follow these four strategies:

  1. Psychologically detach from work during your PTO. Do not check emails. Do not respond to work messages. Don’t talk about work frustrations and don’t even text silly pictures of yourself on the beach to your unit colleagues. Psychological detachment is the best way for you to truly rest and recuperate.
  2. Maximize your relaxation during vacation time. Don’t staycation and clean the house or run errands. If you can, do a geographical and leave town for a bit. Relaxation in the form of massage, sleeping in, reading books, or a good long beach walk with a nice dinner is exactly what the doctor ordered. Go for a low-tension high-relaxation PTO and come back ready to conquer the world again.
  3. Build your confidence and composure by learning a new skill on vacation. A good challenge will give you a sense of mastery and self-confidence that refreshes the senses. Why not consider a ropes course or learning to ski? What about doing a yoga class or taking up golf? Consider starting a memoir about your year during COVID or learning to dance? The idea is to clear out your head by trying something new.
  4. Regain your control by planning out the best vacation ever. During COVID we all felt control slipping away from us at times. Mapping out the perfect vacation not only gives you PTO time you’ll always remember, but it will help you regain control over your time and life.

Searching for a New Job?

While you’re vacationing, consider talking with The Custom Group of Companies about a possible job change. If your work environment isn’t a positive one, you have options. Take some time off and give us a call to find out more.

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