The other day while looking over articles on LinkedIn I came across one that was talking about a person who turned down a job due to the amount of vacation (or lack thereof) that was offered to this particular individual being interviewed. I’m not going to go into the details of this article, if I can find it again I will provide a link, but I thought that the topic was interesting because over the last year or two I have had similar discussions with my wife, friends and honestly with myself while stuck in traffic. How much vacation do I want or need for the job I have? Is 15 days of vacation enough? Why do I feel like I work to death, but don’t ever have time off? I figured these questions were worth looking into in detail and was surprised by what I found.
236 Working Days A Year
I had never really thought about how much I actually work in a given year versus the amount of time I have off so I looked online at a few different sites and found the amount of working days in 2018 minus my allotted vacation days (15) that I will work, 236 days.
236 DAYS OF WORK!?!? Honestly this number shocked me at first. There are only 365 days a year and I work for 236 out of those 365. That is 64.7% of the year dedicated to my career. That leaves only 35.3% of my year is dedicated to “time off”.
I felt the need to dive even deeper to get a more honest representation of my situation which helped shift the amount of time off a little more towards the center. At my current job I work a half day on Friday, every Friday. It is a perk within the oil industry (and I’m sure other industries) that I hope never goes away. Adding the half day Friday’s to the time off category gives me another 26 days off. That’s almost an entire month of time to get stuff done around the house or go on a slightly longer weekend vacation. Now I know what you are thinking, because I have thought it too. “Well you can’t accrue those 26 days throughout the year and take a really long vacation”. That’s true, but time off is time off in my opinion, how I maximize it is my responsibility.
Adding those 26 days to the time off category brings the amount of working days in the calendar year to 210, which translates to 57.5% of the year for work. This is much closer to what I think most people think of as a “work life balance”. So, now that I know I have 42.5% of the year for non-working days, how the hell do I use that time in the most efficient manner?
Where does all my vacation go?
January was met with as much excitement for me as Christmas was for my kids. The New Year meant my vacation allowance at work was once again full. I had 15 days to do as I please, or rather what my family and I please. Like the name of the website suggests, I am a Family Outdoorsman. There has to be a balance for both.
My personal biggest use for my time off is hunting and all things hunting related. Throughout the year I can spend a lot of time in the woods. The 2018 hunting season will kick off right when the 2017 season ends. This will include hunting for sheds in early spring. Shed hunting will lead right into spring turkey hunting. The summers are full of getting food plots ready for the fall, placing game cameras out in the woods and picking potential stand locations. Late summer to early fall is filled with much of the same and come October it’s time to get the bow out and try to drop an early season buck still looking to bulk up on acorns before the rut. November through January the following year is time for more deer hunting with an occasional duck hunt thrown in the mix.
I do most of my hunting on my family’s property in Mississippi, which is about a 7 hour drive from my house. During the 2017 season, in order to get the most out of a weekend, I would usually take Monday off. This would allow me to get to Mississippi on Friday night, hunt all day Saturday and Sunday before driving home on Monday. This ate up a lot of vacation not only for myself, but it took away time for things that I could be doing with my family.
The Hunting Lifestyle and the Family Man Balance
So how do I get the most out of my time in the woods for myself, but also spend quality vacation time with my family? Can I reach a 50/50 balance of hunting and being a dad/husband? This is something that I am trying to work on more this year. In order to get the best of both worlds I have come up with a few scenarios that I am going to explore.
Most of my pre hunting season work (i.e. food plot prep, stand location, game cameras) can be done on weekends as long as I go with a game plan. There are 24 hours in a day and if I can’t get what I need done, with a little help from the other hunters on our property, then I have failed. I use time management every day in my career and home life and hunting should be no different.
Using a combination of Federal Holidays and planning extended weekend hunts during high success rate parts of the season (better known to some as a rut-cation) will help cut back on the amount of vacation I use to hunt. Another alternative to fill my need to be in the woods during hunting season is something I have thought about off and on over the past two years, but never pulled the trigger (pun intended). I could always hunt on public land near my house. There is a whole topic I want to write about in a future post about public land hunting in Texas, but for now I will be brief.
Near my house in Magnolia, TX is the Sam Houston National Forest which is approximately 163,000 acres in size and open to hunting on every square inch of it. Most of the articles I read about public land hunting contain nothing but horror stories of gear getting stolen or finding the perfect spot to hunt only to find five other hunters in the same area. I figured these articles are like most restaurant reviews and I am only reading them because people want to complain. I listen to quite a few podcasts and read numerous blogs about men/women who hunt public land and the one thing they all say is key to avoiding other hunters is to walk really really deep into the woods. Being someone who is somewhat obsessed with the challenge of hunting, I think I can hang with walking a mile or two into the woods.
I can’t really pinpoint last year how much vacation I used for family outings versus hunting, but if I had to guess it was slightly skewed more towards hunting. Granted my kids are young, but this doesn’t mean that we still can’t go do outdoorsy things together. If I want to encourage my wife and kids to explore the outdoors like I do, I need to start getting them involved in my outdoors life. After taking my son camping/hunting for the first time, I definitely think that we can make it through a weekend at some state parks throughout Texas and other neighboring states. I might even try to start including my son on some of the pre hunting season prep work done on weekends. I am hoping that by the end of the year I can say that I spent a meaningful amount of time in the woods hunting (maybe harvest a deer or two) and be able to say that I took a vacation (or maybe vacations) that my family will always remember. 15 days can be a lot of vacation time, if I use it correctly.
– The Family Outdoorsman
Here is a link to the article that got me thinking about vacation