The Vacation Dilemma

  • jcrawf02


    Points: 24198

    I can only think of one response to this article -

    Not affiliated to Tim Ferriss at all, just jealous. (and plotting . . .);)

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    "stewsterl 80804 (10/16/2009)I guess when you stop and try to understand the solution provided you not only learn, but save yourself some headaches when you need to make any slight changes."

  • EdVassie

    SSC Guru

    Points: 60270

    A former colleague told of when he left his previous company...

    He had worked a lot of extra hours and accumulated a lot of time off in lieu of payment. One day he went to his boss and said he was leaving.

    "You are on three months notice" he was told.

    "Fine. I've got 3 months time instead of pay. I'll clear my desk and say goodbye."

    And off he went, taking his 3 months as paid holiday.

    Original author: 1-click install and best practice configuration of SQL Server 2019, 2017 2016, 2014, 2012, 2008 R2, 2008 and 2005.

    When I give food to the poor they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor they call me a communist - Archbishop Hélder Câmara

  • Andy Warren

    SSC Guru

    Points: 119676

    I think we all tend to be a little guilty of thinking we're the only ones that can do the work, and that all work has to be done right now! There's also some truth to both of those perspectives.

    There is a lot of value in 'clearing the decks' prior to vacation, even if means a few extra hours at the office. The equivalent of spring cleaning, it's easier to relax when you've taken care of the stuff that would nag at you otherwise.

    It's hardest on the small businesses, where a few people do it all. But somehow even very large companies end up behaving like they are a collection of very small businesses! This is one place where a good manager is worth their salary, because not only can they push you towards taking vacation, they can make sure the calls are fielded and that critical tasks get done so you don't return to a total disaster.

    The last two years I've done minimal vacation (and often working vacation) because we've been in start up mode. Over the next year I'll be moving back to the 4-6 weeks vacation I'm used to taking, because especially in a small business I just can't afford to burn out.

  • OCTom


    Points: 11755

    The one thing I've always told employers when I go on vacation is to treat my absence as though it was permanent. What would they do if I was leaving for good? They can't hire someone before I get back, so, treat the absence as though they were between my leaving and hiring someone else. That gets them and me thinking about what needs to be accomplished prior to vacation. This usually works unless something major breaks. I'm always on call for that sort of thing. It's the nature of our profession.

  • David Benoit


    Points: 34562

    jcrawf02 (6/13/2008)

    I can only think of one response to this article -

    Not affiliated to Tim Ferriss at all, just jealous. (and plotting . . .);)

    Let me know how you make out with this. I was working a part time remote gig for a while and it was awesome. Just didn't last as long as I wanted. Hoping for more.... : )



    “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose” - Jim Elliot

  • Tracy Lundin

    SSC Veteran

    Points: 225

    My company has a plan for vacations. Which make it difficult for anyone in the company to take vacations. You cannot take vacation from Jan-Feb or Oct-Dec. You cannot take vacation if one of your colleagues is on vacation. You cannot take vacation if your supervisor is on vacation. You cannot take vacation if another person that shares customer sales responsibilities is on vacation. You cannot take vacation if more than one person in your chain of command is gone. If you are a manager you must provide hotel information and be on call and check in everyday. Each department has an operations manual on exactly how to perform daily duties. So, what's the point of vacation? We, we all just think that the guy that wrote the policy is just jealous that other people have lives and do what we want anyway. Ha Ha Ha. That guy just retired so we should be getting a new policy. Since we all have manuals there is no reason to do extra work before you leave cause all backups are trained and the book is there for the bizarre stuff. Its great. I actually love where I work and forget most years to even take vacation. When I do go I disappear.

  • Patrick Cahill


    Points: 5552

    I have a one week vacation planned in August, and I won't be taking a cell phone along for the ride. I've worked enough nights and weekends this year that I shouldn't even have to take vacation time for the vacation.

    To answer Steve's question, I usually will spend a little extra time making sure anything that is need for the next week is taken care off. This doesn't mean I get a whole extra week of work done, I will just spend a little time making sure loose ends are tied up. When I return I will just pick up where I left off.

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 717415

    Good to see that lots of people need to take their vacation, but I'm wondering for those of you that didn't answer, do you do extra work because of vacation?

  • Robert Stewart

    Hall of Fame

    Points: 3399

    I am taking a week off after July 4 after working with the current company for 21 months. Got married last year and did not take any time off because of work load. Other than company holidays, which the last one was irrlevant because I still had 80+ hours for the 2 week period without the 8 for the holiday.

    When I go, I will not have company email and will answer only numbers I know are not associated with work.

    Unfortunately, I am currently the only SQL guy at the company. And my work load will be increased when I get back because there is no one to off load any of it to.

    I would like to see us operate like other countries, like Russia where my wife is from. Everyone gets a month off every year. 🙂

  • Ray Laubert


    Points: 2910

    I just started working for this year. We get 21 days a year off. You are required to take 5 days in a row off for R&R. How cool is that! A company that makes you take a vacation. I so love this place. A couple of weeks ago, the office took the afternoon off and went to Dave and Busters, company paid play time. Once a quarter they plan office related downtime. White water rafting, bowling, unwind time at a local bar, cooking classes etc. The work environment is great. This is how all companies should treat the workers.

    SO should you take a vacation? YES. You need the time to unwind, regen and forget about work, unless you own the business your responsiblity ends when the work day ends, if not they need to hire another person to work shift work.

    Raymond Laubert
    Exceptional DBA of 2009 Finalist
    MCT, MCDBA, MCITP:SQL 2005 Admin,
    MCSE, OCP:10g

  • Gerardo Benítez


    Points: 12

    Yes: everybody should have a replacement person. We should work in pairs like in Extreme Programming, although this is not part of human nature, and therefore we have to pay the price not having vacations. Another possibility is to close and go. This may be possible, unless you work for the Fire Dept.

  • Stephen Bippen

    Old Hand

    Points: 368

    I've never been a company man but was always willing to stay and do what it takes to get the job done. That meant staying late, working the odd weekend and checking email all the time. It also meant showing up late to events, missing time with friends and family and putting off vacations and weekend trips.

    One day I was 15 minutes late picking up my mother for a doctors appointment. I had stayed late to fix a problem I knew could have waited until the next morning but it "had to be done" before I left. She was upset and crying when I arrived (she was nervous about the appointment) and I felt awful. She died a few months later.

    That was three years ago and I still feel awful.

    I don't work late (as often), I don't work weekends and I don't even think about work after I leave. When my father needs me, I drop what I am doing and go. I show up on time no matter the situation at work. And I take my vacations - all of it. No email, no cell phone, no contact with work. If there is a problem at work that only I can solve, then there are bigger problems at work than me being unavailable.

    We all like to believe we are needed and appreciated at work but the truth is most companies will let you go in a heartbeat.

    If you want to "prep" for a vacation, do it for you and an no one else. Your friends and family will always be there, you should be there for them too. You've earned your vacation, take it. Stress free and guilt free.

  • jburkman

    Right there with Babe

    Points: 768

    I used to be a surety bond underwriter, and for employee dishonesty bonds the primary message to employers was "Make your key staff take vacations and have someone else do their job in the interim." Most long-term embezzlement is caught this way.

    Now, I'm not saying at all that embezzlement is an issue here. But from an employer's stance, the dba should be booted out of the office for a couple vacations a year if for no other reason than to ensure 1. somebody else can do the vital functions in his/her absence (really makes process documentation weaknesses come to light) and 2. nothing's jinky in Scoobyland.

  • Ken Wymore


    Points: 16493

    I have found that the need to do extra work before going on vacation depends on your position in the job. If you are in a position where you are the knowledge expert and only person who can reliably answer questions then some extra work has to be done to make sure that issues are minimalized and that someone else is trained on how to troubleshoot common issues. If you don't document processes and do not communicate where issues stand then you have to expect that things are going to be bad when you get back or that you may be contacted while off. I once had a manager who expected us to bring our laptops with us on vacation and was quite upset if you did not respond to pages immediately while off. I think this was going too far but it was partially our own faults for not taking the time to make our systems more sustainable.

    Every issue cannot be foreseen and you will still have to play catch up when you get back but getting some knowledge transfer out there and working to minimize issues will definately make it go smoother.

  • cy-dba

    SSCarpal Tunnel

    Points: 4149

    Ideally, you should not have to work extra because of vacation. Practically, it usually never happens that way. One of the reasons I hardly ever take vacation is because of the backlog of work that builds up before and after. As I get older and "wiser", I have tried to mitigate the effect and work normal hours. It will just take a little longer for things to get done.

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