Paid Paid Vacation
Keep your sanity and do better work.

I'm going on vacation on Wednesday. A real, honest-to-goodness vacation where I'm not keeping one eye on my email. I haven't done an actual off-the-grid vacation since a trip to San Francisco in 1999, so I'm pretty excited at the idea. And now that I think about it, I probably checked my work email during that trip in 1999 too. 25 year old me was setting a bad precedent!

A couple of weeks ago, I decided that I was getting burnt out — time for a mini-vacation. But my wife and I are living frugally right now, so I didn’t want to go anywhere, just stay home and rest.

Unbeknownst to me, Jen sent an email to my wife — here’s an excerpt:

Sneaky paid paid vacation email
Sneaky paid paid vacation email

Jen is absolutely right. I’m generally thinking about work all the time or trying to sneak in some work when I’m really not supposed to be working. It’s a disease and I need an intervention.

You may know that we have an unlimited vacation policy here. It’s related to my thoughts on presenteeism — if you’re getting your work done, hitting deadlines, putting in hard work and great ideas, then take a vacation! Despite this policy, I’ve managed to not take a real vacation since Kick Point started. I did go to Ontario in October and did this crappy half work half not work vacation but I just felt guilty for one thing or another the entire time. It sucked.

Back to Jen’s email. What she’s getting at is that if I stayed home during my vacation, I’d probably think about work. Or clean up my home office or something. Not really a vacation.

To solve this problem, my very sneaky business partners decided to institute a “paid paid vacation” policy. We’d talked about paid paid vacation at a company meeting a while ago — lots of great companies do it, like FullContact and SEOmoz. FullContact has a great blog post on the topic. They pay each employee $7,500 to go on vacation, with three basic rules:

You have to go on vacation, or you don’t get the money.
You must disconnect.
You can’t work while on vacation.

Since we can’t afford $7,500 (yet), we’re starting with $750, and I’m the lucky first recipient, organized utterly behind my back in cahoots with my wife. We’re going to Calgary for a couple of days to unwind, staying at a very nice hotel and generally not working and actually enjoying ourselves.

I think it’s a great idea and I’m really happy my business partners decided to just go ahead and implement it. Because I need to learn how to this whole off-the-grid thing works, and the last thing I want to have happen is this:

Bart Lorang failing at going on vacation
Bart Lorang failing at going on vacation

When I get home on Tuesday, my wife will be taking my phone away from me (I can’t be trusted, seriously) and I’ll get it back on May 21st. No phone, no texting, no email, no Twitter, no Facebook.

The best part? I know that there is absolutely nothing that could possibly happen while I’m away that can’t wait until I get back. We’ve got a great team here and they’ve got my back.

It’s going to be awesome.

  • Justin Jackson

    Dana, this is awesome! I love that you guys are starting with $750; I remember reading about the “$7,500” and thinking that was out of reach, but even $750 would make a big difference!

    Leave a reply
  • Jerry Aulenbach

    You’re on to something, here. For me, I don’t like putting my phone away, for although it keeps work away, it also limits the day-to-day pleasantries of chatting and sharing with friends, which helps me enjoy each day like it is a vacation. I suppose that for the benefit of my family, it would be worth it to have some pure down-time for their benefit. And if you read this before you get back from your vacation, you fail.

    -Jerry

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