Take Your Time Off

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If you find yourself regularly daydreaming about running away to Hawaii or even just staying home to watch DVDs, maybe you're due some time off.

In her book, "Time Off for Good Behavior," Mary Lou Quinlan (search) writes that seven out of 10 people fantasize about leaving work for a few months. Wanting to take some time off shouldn't make you feel guilty. Often a break can help you feel less burned out at work and help you reorganize your life goals.

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Most people don't realize that taking some time off work -- guilt-free -- isn't as difficult as it might seem. Before you resign yourself to being chained to your desk, check out your options. Here's how:

Think about why you want time off. Do you just wish a few days to relax, or are you hoping to completely assess your career? Figure out how much time off you'll need to come back to work refreshed.

Figure out how many vacation days you have, including those from past years if they can be carried over. Add in any remaining sick or personal days. Remember that you've already earned your vacation days -- you deserve to use them!

You may be eligible for a sabbatical with full or partial pay, or have options for re-entry to the company after an unpaid leave. The policy might also include rules about taking time off -- such as how far in advance vacations must be scheduled or how many sick days may be used consecutively.

If your company policy doesn't spell out the details of flexible time off, now is the time to find out what the company can offer. Be honest about your desire for some time off, what you hope to accomplish and what arrangements you'll make to ensure your work is covered while you're out of the office. Negotiate for what you need.