Successful vacations take planning, of course. People spend hours deciding where to go, and how to get there. One often-overlooked aspect of the planning process, however, is deciding when to return.
There are several crucial considerations at play. How much work is likely to have piled up in your absence, and how much is due after you return? When will your boss or most important client be on vacation? Can you return mid-week? And should your travel plans contemplate an aggressive schedule, like returning on a flight arriving at midnight the night before a 9 a.m. meeting with the boss or an important client and a day chock-full of immovable deadlines?
Too many people pick the standard, week-long, Saturday-to-following-Sunday vacation without much thought given to their options. Their no-margin-for error travel plans put them at risk of missing crucial work assignments upon their return or leave them ridiculously stressed as a result of that prospect. They come back and immediately are plunged neck-deep in work. By noon on the day of their return, their blood pressure is back at jack-hammer levels and their vacation is a distant, wistful memory that seems like a bad mistake.
I like to take time off around the holidays because, for litigators, the period around the holidays tends to be slower than normal. This year we decided to return on Monday on a week where Friday is an off-day, leaving — voila! — a three-day work week. And I can spend that week working at a measured pace, getting ready for the new year and savoring a fine Costa Rican holiday.