Trying not to lose vacation days

Every year at this time, many Microsoft employees start to devise plans to take off extra vacation time here and there so they don’t lose it. We get an e-mail reminder with a tool that helps us calculate how many days we will lose by the end of the year if we don’t take them. Accrued vacation time plus additional accrual through the end of the year, minus any already scheduled vacation days not yet taken. Each employee can carry over one year’s worth of vacation time. For me, that’s 4 weeks. Anything above the 4 weeks, I am at risk of losing. Gotta use it or lose it.

Each year, I try to remind myself to take the time off in the summer when it’s nice outside. I never really do that. The things that I would have taken a day off for when I worked at other companies, I don’t feel the need to take a day off for; dentists appointments, that kind of stuff. When you have flexible work hours you can go do what you have to do and work your schedule around it. That’s why I have been so successful with going to the gym regularly (except for those 2 weeks when I fell off the gym wagon). I can go during the day. It’s not about which hours you work it’s about getting the job done.

Working from home as much as I do also keeps me from having to take vacation days for things like deliveries. Also, if I am not feeling well, I can often log on from home and still get work done while not contaminating others.

So this all results in me having to take 110 vacation hours in addition to my Thanksgiving vacation. I think it’s important to take the time and not lose it and I encourage my team to take theirs. We all work hard, that time is earned and nobody is going to tap you on the should and tell you to take a day off (actually, someone might, but you can’t really expect it). My plan is to take the time off and really focus on relaxing. Ooh, that’s a tough word for me to say r-e-l-a-x-i-n-g. It’s not in my nature. I am going to give it a shot.

I have about 2 months worth of unread magazines. I’m a magazine junkie. I think that is about 20 magazines. The weather outside is getting cooler and the idea of snuggling on the couch with some coffee (sorry Mark, not tea) and a book or some Sudoku puzzles (another of my favorite obsessions) is appealing. I’m starting to feel unburdened by the prospect of yard work (just a little clean up and I am done for the season…yay!). I’m going to cook and take naps. I’m going to actually use my Netflix subscription. I’m going to record old movies. I’m going to have lunch with friends. I’m going to take cooking classes.

I am not going to clean any closets or rearrange any furniture. I think if I keep telling myself that I’ll make it true.

Comments (9)

  1. patblue says:


    Please humor me for just a moment while I climb up here on my soapbox….There.

    So my favorite Msft colleagues to work with are those that rant and complain that there are ‘just not enough vacation days for what I have planned this year’.

    My not so favorite are those that announce (usually quite vocally as if to ‘one up’ others) I AM GOING TO LOSE 2 WEEKS! of vacation this year because I ‘just can’t take time off’……To which I have a highly cynical and inappropriate smart ass remarks that I can’t say out loud running around in my head….

    I have learned some things through the years here.  The first  set are those that have put in time at the company, the latter are usually folks that have been here 3 years of less.

    You see we are all gung -ho about working hard and a lot, especially in our younger years.  As we get older with length of service under our belt, life takes more of a front seat and time off becomes paramount.

    Here is a goal for you HH, roll that time over and then next year (say summer) take an entire 4 weeks (yes one month off).  I have done it and it was the BEST thing I could do, in fact, I am pondering doing it next year again.  

    Not for this forum but a lively conversation we could have over say – lunch at RTC is the use of sick time as well ;-).

    Jumping off the soap box now.


  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    Well, next year I am going to have to take 4 weeks or I will lose it. This year, I had the benefit of rolling over an extra week due to length of service.

    For me, the reason for not taking time off has less to do with feeling that I am important (oh, that notion was done away with very early in my career at Microsoft….hee!), and more with not having good reasons to take time off. I’m not a big vacationer (single with mostly married friends) and I tend to travel enough for work that I can wrap a couple extra days around a trip (a’la NYC). I still end up with the extra time.

    Even with the rolling, I’ve got to take the 110 hours. I’m going to do it PatBlue and I am going to meet you for lunch at RTC and remind myself not to complain about losing vacation time. There are so many better things to complain about like bad fashion : )

  3. patblue says:

    All very valid points.  You do get to travel a lot, etc, and I remember your ‘I am going to Mexico’ trip, which would cause me not to want to go there any longer, much like me and Vegas :-).

    The point is to relax, whether it be on the couch, or in the mountains, take the time that you have very much earned and relax.  I am up for lunch with you very often, not even in RTC, I have always wanted to try Pomegran.. and Coho Cafe.

  4. Annsh says:

    Check it out. My first time ever commenting on a blog. 🙂

    Like you, I have about the same amount of hours to burn and have great relaxation plans in place. I’m all about lounging on the couch and lunches at RTC. Let me know when Nip/Tuck appears in your mailbox. 🙂

  5. HeatherLeigh says:

    Oh yeah, and we can complain about El Diablo! Now neither of us can complain to Pat about vacation time. He teases us with vacation pics on his blog. He’ll send us straight to hell, raght now!

  6. HeatherLeigh says:

    Oops, missed Pat’s comment. Yes, either of those are great…any time!

    For those that don’t know me in person (and I don’t think I blogged about this), about 3 years ago, I decided I was going to go on vacation to Mexico by myself (brave girl). I booked a hotel on skyauction and it turned out to be off the beaten path up a dirt road that the airport shuttle couldn’t get to because a tropical storm had jut come in and washed it out. When you walked up the dirt road, chickens literally crossed your path. The hotel was not very nice at all (I described the pillow cases as nubbly), no food services. About 2 days in, I got food poisoning really really bad (no details) and I was too far from town to get medicine. I just prayed for death. As soon as I was well enough to crawl to the pay phone, I booked a flight out of there and then went into town to watch the USC/Cal football game. It was a close game that went to over time (3x I think I recall). The power in the bar went out in the last overtime (it was also out while I was suffering with the food poisoning) and I didn’t get to see the end of the game. Incidentally, that was the last regular season game USC lost. That was my worst vacation ever. Ever! Beat that!

    First and last time I went on vacation by myself and now I prefer to spend my vacation days on my couch.

  7. mrscrooge says:

    >It’s not about which hours you work it’s about getting the job done

    Ok just to play devils advocate (sorta) – what about jobs that are tightly coupled with what other people are working on? Face-to-face time is highly underrated, being able to saunter into a dev’s office to discuss a spec change on their whiteboard costs a combined 10 minutes of our time, whereas if we restricted ourselves to email it would’ve taken much, much longer. I can quote more examples but I think you get the point I’m trying to make? I can’t think of anyone in our dev, pm, or test org who can work from home frequently without adversely affecting the rest of the group. It happens, but its like 1 day every couple of months or something. In fact, I remember back in the day when managers would emphasize the issue of ‘core hours’ (was it in the employee handbook at one time? Could’ve been, they can change it anytime they want without telling you;) ) because some people would come in at lunch time or whatever and then stay later than the others, but if you’re not around when the rest of the team needs you – it doesn’t help.

    And to clarify, I’m not saying that there aren’t jobs where you can’t efficiently work from home, I’m just saying thats generally hard to find in product teams – Heather, what are your thoughts on that?

  8. HeatherLeigh says:

    mrscrooge-if you need to meet with people, then you need to meet with people. What I find is that some people won’t even consider allowing work-from-home arrangements even part-time because they are afraid that the person will miss something in the office. I think there can be a happy medium. We do a lot of conf calls, but I could see where that might be more difficult if we had to white board something (which we generally don’t). I think it’s a different team culture and work style. In the kind of work I do, I often find drive-bys annoying because I’ll be entrenched in something and wanting to focus without interruption. I guess it depends on if the person doing the drive-by thinks about whether the issue is important.

    I guess there’s more than one reason why I don’t work on a dev team : )

  9. patblue says:

    You said ‘RAHT NAW’!  I love it, I haven’t thought of that for years!

    I am in one of those groups where management ‘thinks it is best’ that we are all at work in our cubes.  Though no real collaboration takes place that much in person.  All of my accounts are in NYC and I work an earlier than normal set of hours, yet our Mngmt rules that working from home is a great privelege and not ‘meant for our group’.  Highly frustrating when you bring it down to a simple trust level.  Very comical that I have gotten feedback since 1st grade on every report card that "Pat could stand to visit  a little less".  As you know, I can be very social in the workplace, and this just ‘may’ make a hit on my productivity…At home I only have the dog and cats to talk to…Seems simple to me, but I march on, driving in every day to put my headphones on and ‘collaborate’ for 8 hours.  I can tell you over lunch about my horrible HORRIBLE Las Vegas experience w/ food poisoning that has made me never want to go again.

    Ok, maybe not over lunch, but at another time.