I sat with my head propped up in my hand at one of those cramped hotel computer desks, listening to my boss ramble endlessly on the other end of the phone about something she needed—yet was apparently unable to locate herself.
My family stood eagerly by the hotel room door, trying their best to be patient while simultaneously gauging just how much longer I’d be stuck there. Considering the fact that we were attempting to enjoy a family vacation, they were excited to get down to the pool—which was being delayed by yet another needless conversation with my supervisor.
Here’s the thing: My manager knew I was out of the office. My email out-of-office message was turned on. We had an in-person conversation in order to tie up loose ends before I left. And, to add insult to injury, she had personally approved my vacation request months ago. My absence wasn’t a surprise.
Yet, this boss of mine seemed to have absolutely no respect for my time out of the office. She’d send me emails over the weekend. When she was leaving work for the day, she’d ask me to finish up one of her projects—even though it was already well past quitting time. And, as I’m sure you saw coming, she’d pop up with the ever-frequent phone call—even when I was on vacation.
How exactly did I deal with it, you ask? Well, back then, my coping strategy involved a lot of grumbling and complaining—and not much else.
But, if I could turn back time and to the whole thing all over again? I’d be more direct about handling the situation by immediately sending her an email that followed one of the below templates—and then I’d promptly join my family at the pool.
If You’re Planning Ahead for Your Time Off
Hello [Boss’ Name],
Ahead of my upcoming time off from [date] to [date], I wanted to be sure to touch base with you about my plans.
In order to use that time to truly relax and recharge, I’m going to unplug from work as much as possible. So, I wanted to give you advanced warning that I will likely be totally unreachable until I return to the office on [date].
I will be sure to complete my pending projects, tie up any loose ends, and notify other relevant team members of my absence before I head out. Of course, I’m also happy to sit down with you ahead of my time away in order to confirm we have all of our bases covered before I’m out of touch. Let me know if you’d like to get a brief conversation on your schedule.
Don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions about this, and I really appreciate you allowing me to make the most of my time off!
If You’re Already Enjoying Your Time Off
Hello [Boss’ Name],
I wanted to reach out with a quick update for you.
As you know, I’m currently away from my desk until [date]. In order to make the most of my time off and return to the office feeling as refreshed and recharged as I can, I’m aiming to disconnect from my work as much as possible.
So, please be aware that—after this message—I won’t be responding to any work-related emails or phone calls for the duration of my time off.
If anything comes up in my absence, [Contact Name] is filling in for me while I’m away and can assist with those issues or questions. Otherwise, I’ll make sure to promptly address any other pending items when I return to the office on [date].
Thanks so much for understanding, [Boss’ Name]. I really appreciate you allowing me this time to relax and enjoy my time off!
I get it—it can feel awkward to set the record straight with your boss about your vacation time (hence why I personally took the cowardly way out and just rolled over).
However, know this: You’re entitled to your vacation days, and you’re more than justified in expecting them to be totally work-free.
So, it’s well worth it to gather your courage and let your boss know what your expectations are for your time off. Unless, of course, you want to follow in my footsteps and sacrifice your well-deserved pool session for an hour spent in the stuff hotel business center. Take it from me—I don’t recommend it.