June 18, 2015

Blocking my Time with PTO

Short and sweet post today, but I wanted to share what a successful day I had at work.

I had originally requested today as a PTO day, so that I could spend time with a visiting houseguest. I blocked off my calendar, shifted all meetings to Wednesday and Friday, and started working my butt off to ensure that I could have all the loose ends tied up and be able to take the day off. I swear, sometimes it’s easier to just keep working instead of trying to take time off! (And it should be noted that I am a terrible workaholic who has her PTO bank perpetually maxed out, so am no role model in that area.)

Though really, who needs vacation when I can get views like this on trail runs before work?

However, as this week approached, my work kept piling up more and more, and I realized that taking a day off would just not be possible. At the same time, my houseguest postponed her trip, so I didn’t have that obligation either. But my calendar was still blocked off for the day…

I ended up telling a few key people that I was, indeed, going to be working, but for the most part, people thought I was out of the office. (And I left my calendar blocked to confirm that myth.) Without all the meetings and interruptions of people sending me fire drills that had to get done immediately, I was able to have an incredibly productive day and complete a major milestone for one of my projects. I also got caught up on a few things I was behind on for other projects. In all, I worked just as hard/long as any other work day, but my work was so much more productive when I was able to dictate the schedule myself rather than work around other people’s meetings, phone calls, or urgent meetings.

Of course, I can’t use this little trick all the time – it was really accidental that I planned PTO and didn’t take it, and I wouldn’t want to intentionally deceive my coworkers. But after seeing just how productive I could be with a full day blocked off, I’m now motivated to make that happen at least once every few weeks. This kind of uninterrupted work time was invaluable for me, and in the future, I’ll feel more confident doing everything I can to protect that work time when I have a big deliverable or just a lot of little things that have been slipping through the cracks.


12 thoughts on “Blocking my Time with PTO”

  1. I’ll do something like this occasionally. If I’m starting to come down with something, and I don’t want to share my germs with the office, but I’m still feeling pretty ok, I’ll call in sick. Then I’ll block off my calendar, and set an away email message but work on projects. I get so much done and don’t feel guilty about ignoring emails. Plus, if I start to feel worse, I can just stop working without worrying about leaving the office.

  2. A lot of people I know block time in our calendars for uninterrupted work time…

    For me, what works is to get into the office early, by 7 at the latest (which means 4:30 wake ups for exercise). Most meetings don’t start until 9, so I get a good two hour block of uninterrupted work in the morning. I then block my calendar every day at 4:45 (and most days try to leave by 4:30). I will stay late if there is a real need, but otherwise, this allows me to get home to my kids at a reasonable time.

    1. I had definitely heard of blocking uninterrupted work time, but people schedule over whatever is on my calendar and it’s up to me to readjust. (Or, I urgently need to meet with someone and I schedule over it myself.) I found it easier to say “no, I am out of the office that day” than “I’m busy” 🙂

  3. I’m a big fan of blocking off my calendar to get stuff done. I really enjoy it when a meeting gets cancelled, but I still have time blocked in my calendar because I can use that time to get stuff done that I didn’t think I’d get to.

  4. Occassionally I’ll put artificial blocks on my calendar (just meeting blocks that aren’t really meetings), and I am fixing to do this again soon if I can’t find time to focus on a project that really needs my attention. I find, if I don’t otherwise have plans, I get the most work done between 4:30 and 6ish on Fridays, and I try to take advantage of that when I can. (How quiet do you think it will be this Friday? I’m counting on it …)

    1. Hoping you’re having a nice quiet day today! My company is closed so I’m taking advantage of the day to catch up on a lot of stuff 🙂

  5. It is interesting to think that a ‘mental health day’ for you is working w/out any distractions!! That said, I can certainly relate to the feelings of being overwhelmed. Fortunately, in my new career simply plowing through is a totally acceptable solution….but that certainly wasn’t the case when I was a consultant. At that time, prioritization was key.

    Also, I am pretty sure I have a very similar picture to the one you posted hanging above my dresser right now 😉

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