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Admin Pro Forum

What do you do when taking a day off just seems too disruptive?

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Question: "Last week's question on calling in sick reminded me that I've gotten so busy at work this year, taking a day off just doesn't seem worth it to me—all I think about is the pile of papers that will be waiting for me the next day, to say nothing of the emails. Asking people to cover for me involves some careful arranging. Is it sad that even when I'd like to take a mental health day, I wind up preferring to go into the office to avoid the consequences?"  – Liz-Ann, Executive Assistant

See comments below, and send your own question to Admin-Pro@nibm.net.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara McKee April 21, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Mar, I feel exactly the same way. I am a one girl office. There is no one in my department that can provide coverage. I’ve tried enlisting the assistance of one of my colleagues from another department but I return to find that everything that has been done, has to be double checked or my staff complain that their request / task were not completed. I have access from home to my desktop and actually go in and look to see what may need my immediate attention.

My staff would prefer that someone be in the office when they are away so scheduling time off during their absence doesn’t work. We all deserve to take time off, whatever the reason so, I’ve resorted to the phrase “I’m only one person and can only do so much” before burning out. I am dedicated and hard working.

My team members are very understanding (I support 2 VP’s and their managers) and certainly allow time to catch up when I return from a 3 day weekend or a full week off. Because of my personal style & work ethics, I beat myself up more than they do because I strive to provide the best support I can to make their jobs easier. I think that’s the case with all of us in these roles.


Mar April 21, 2014 at 7:58 am

I feel the same way….especially if I take a whole week off. I have trained other admins to back me up (and I do the same for them), but it seems that no matter how specific the instructions are or how much I stress the importance of how it needs to be done, something always gets missed and I end up having to re-do it myself, or double-check it when I get back and make corrections. I avoid taking Mondays off as they are one of my busiest days….I usually end up taking Thursday-Friday off for a 4-day weekend. Even when I take the time from before Xmas to the beginning of the New Year as vacation, I usually still come in on the Monday(s) to get that stuff done so it’s done right. Luckily I’m usually close to home so this is not a problem. And even tho I’m non-exempt I usually do log in and check my email from home so I don’t come back to 100+ new messages that I have to play catch-up with.


Min April 18, 2014 at 12:51 pm

You say “I’ve gotten so busy at work this year”. Have your duties increased due to new projects or other circumstances? If you are so busy that you don’t feel you can ever take a day off, maybe they need to hire an additional admin to help take some of the strain off of you. If things have changed at your workplace this year that have increased your workload, it may be worth asking if additional staff is warranted.

Other than that, I agree you need to take time off for yourself. When it’s for something that doesn’t have to be on a certain day, I do try to schedule off on one of our less busy days of the week.


Theresa Kasel April 17, 2014 at 11:40 pm

This is where cross-training with another admin comes in. You and another admin “train” each other on how to do the basic aspects of your job: daily reports that need to be run; requirements for scheduling meetings for the people you support; etc. If there are a lot of things — maybe you need to cross-train with two admins so one person isn’t taking on too much of an extra workload.

The department I worked in at a Fortune 500 company did this for short periods away from the office (one or two days) and it really helped. The people that I supported were told I would be out of the office and who would be handling any urgent requests. I would give that person access to my email so they could monitor it as well as setting up an out-of-office message for any emails that came in.

It also meant that we didn’t need to bring in temporary employees for times when someone was taking a long weekend or needed a day or two off.

I think if you are going to be gone for a longer period of time — say a week — your company should strongly consider bringing in a temporary employee to work for half days each day or for two to three of the days of the time you are off.

Some people might suggest checking your email from home — but since most of us are probably hourly, you really shouldn’t do that since that is a work function. (Plus, it’s really hard to resist the urge to respond to all the messages rather than just the really urgent ones.)


Angie April 17, 2014 at 5:01 pm

I work from home and have not taken a day off in over 2 years. Working from home is a blessing and can be a curse at times. You never seem to be away from work.


Dawne April 17, 2014 at 4:31 pm

I try to schedule days off during quiet periods at work, however if there is something personally that really has to be handled I will take the day and fortunately I have a boss that is very supportive. Also, over the years I have learned that there is life outside of the office and we must have a healthy balance (or as close to one as possible).


Cathy April 17, 2014 at 4:22 pm

I used to be right there with you, Liz-Ann, but I’ve learned over the years NOT to take work home with me – even if it’s just thinking about what will be waiting for me when I get back. I love my job, and I like the people I work for and the ones I work with but when I walk out the door, work stays there. I know I can take a Monday, even a Monday & Tuesday, off for a long weekend with little piling up. I’ve learned NOT to take Thursday or Fridays off because they are my busiest days of the week, and too much does pile up when I do that. Hopefully, you have a day or two that are less hectic than other days and you can plan to take one of them off. GOOD LUCK!!!


Rita April 17, 2014 at 4:18 pm

I know what you mean, Liz-Ann. However, I’ve learned over the years that if I don’t take care of myself, by taking time off when I feel the need, I’ll end up really sick and missing twice the amount of time. I don’t know if it’s a matter of “older but wiser” or just plain “old and falling apart”, but if I don’t plan some breaks from work, there will be more to worry about than an inbox full of unread messages and a pile of paperwork on my desk. We have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of anyone else, and that includes bosses, co-workers and customers.


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