Maybe I am different. For the first 12 years of my professional life I never preplanned my time off. I simply decided a few months in advance, booked something, and then adjusted my office schedule. Only things known well in advance revolved around major holidays – Thanskgiving and Christmas.
In 2012 my wife got totally fed up with my inability to ‘leave’ the office. I just never wanted to leave. I felt that I had to be there, the timing wasn’t right, too many important things going on, blah, blah, blah, and blah.
The really bad part was that our vacations were never when we really wanted them to be. They were never planned far enough in advance. We were never able to coordinate time off with other family members or close friends. Never able to make that special event (for me that would be the Masters in August, GA with my son) because it just didn’t work.
The first thing that we plan is our weeks off. We check the kids schedule as we have to coordinate with them not missing too much school. Then we go ahead and book 4 full weeks off for real vacations.
We don’t necessarily book the actual vacation, but the actual time off. Then we have the luxury of surfing for right place to visit. The other hidden benefit is that we can give a travel agent, family, and close friends the exact dates an entire year in advance.
We’ve taken it a step further recently. Instead of waiting to plan the entire year at once, we now do a ‘rolling’ vacation plan.
We plan for 4 vacation blocks per year – Spring, Early Summer, Early Fall/Late Summer, and Winter. Once we complete a block, we make sure to go ahead and mark the replacement for next years block.
In summer 2013 we scheduled a week off in August 2014. We also changed our kids school between 2013 and 2014. This new school had a different year round schedule than the last school (which was a traditional school schedule). So our kids had to miss a week of school for this vacation. So now when we blocked off Late Summer 2015 we chose a different week better suited to our kids school track.
Maybe this is normal for all of you, but it hasn’t been normal for me. Doing this has totally changed things for me. I am able to make sure I get time off. We are able to coordinate with family and friends, my office team doesn’t have to reschedule patients as much, the practice plans complex patient cases around my vacation schedule, and the list goes on and on.
Just thought I’d share something that has made an impact for me.
By the way – taking 4 weeks off hasn’t affected the practice production. We just worked smarter, harder, and more efficiently the rest of the time. I also found that I was more engaged and focused because I was actually taking time off.