How to Maximize Your PTO to Recharge

By Ashley Paskill on April 13, 2023

If you have a job, you are likely accumulating paid time off, even if you only work part-time. Many employers require that you use this time within a certain time limit or else you will lose it. Using this time off can help you recharge and relax from the stress of work and school. Knowing how to maximize this time can help you take advantage of your time off and recharge as needed.

Company policies

Before making fancy plans to get away for two weeks, see how much time you actually have available. As mentioned before, you may also have to use the time before a certain date so you do not lose it. Make sure you are aware of how much time you have available and how much you can use so you can plan accordingly. You may also be required to request a certain amount of time in advance. Many places require at least two weeks’ notice for vacations to help plan for schedules, but other employers may require more. Knowing your company policies will help ensure that you get the time you need in order to recharge.

Budget your money

Even if you are getting paid for time off for your vacation, you still want to save money where you can. You will have a hard time relaxing if you know that you are spending more money than you are making. Be mindful of how much money you have and how much you have spent so far. Keep a running tally and hold onto receipts to check later to ensure that the amounts add up. If you are traveling, travel with a group you know to split the cost. Do research to find the best deals on things like airfare and hotels. If you are planning on doing a staycation, budgeting your money can look like not going on a huge shopping spree or avoiding eating out every day you take off.

Plan ahead

While you may be tempted to dive into the location and “wing it,” it is important to plan ahead when there are things you want to do. Schedule your time wisely, even if you plan on spending most of your time relaxing on the beach or by the pool. Make reservations if you know where you plan on eating to help minimize wait times and book museum and attraction tickets in advance to save time that would have been spent waiting in time. If you are using your time off for a staycation, plan how you want your days to look, even if you want to use the time for relaxing activities.

Image: Sebastian Arie Voortman via

Pack for your destination

If you are going skiing over spring break, be sure to pack warm clothes. However, if you are going somewhere warm, pack light clothes that will keep you cool. Packing the appropriate clothing will help ensure that you can be comfortable while utilizing your time off. Also, make sure you pack any essentials you will need so you do not have to spend time shopping for things like toothpaste or deodorant. Time spent shopping and waiting in store lines for things you should have already is time wasted doing fun or relaxing things.

Work-life balance

Even if you are just doing a staycation, you can still relax and recharge as much as you would on a vacation to a far-off destination. Use this time to exercise. Leave work at work. Avoid answering work calls and texts unless they are extremely urgent. Be sure any clients who may need to reach you have a point of contact who is working while you are away so they are not disturbing you. If your boss or coworkers try to get you to work while you are utilizing time off, gently remind them that you are using paid time and that you are unavailable to complete work tasks. Consider setting an automatic email response that says when you are unavailable and when you will be returning.

Read for fun

Whether you are on school break or you just graduated, you likely had to do a lot of reading for school that was academic. Your paid time off is a great time to get back into reading for fun again. Even if you physically are not going anywhere when you take time off, a good book can transport you to new places and allow you to learn about new people and perspectives. If you are hesitant to start reading again, find a book that looks interesting and is relatively short and go from there. Along with being relaxing, reading allows you to learn new things and can help keep your brain sharp as you get older. It also gives you something to talk about with others as you can discuss books you are reading or have read in the past.

Maximizing your paid time off for relaxing and recharging is important as you only get so much per year. You work hard, so taking advantage of the time off that you are paid for is important.

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