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The Need To Disconnect

How to prepare for your time off so you can actually use your PTO

Erica LaCentra headshot
Erica LaCentra
The need to disconnect

Let’s face it, there seems to be an unspoken rule in the mortgage industry that working in this space means working well beyond a typical 40-hour work week. Working early mornings, late nights, and weekends is the norm so that you can get that next deal and always be available to your clients. You may even feel guilty about utilizing your paid time off and when you do take time away, you can’t ever truly disconnect.

However, at a time when employee burnout is high, completely disconnecting from your job from time to time can be conducive to long-term satisfaction in your career. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to utilize your hard-earned time off and actually do so without having to worry about work. To make this a reality, though, and not have that nagging guilty feeling, it all comes down to how you prepare for your time off. So, what steps should you be taking prior to taking your PTO to set yourself up for success and make sure you don’t need to check in until you’re back on the clock?

Alert the Masses

One of the easiest ways to prepare your clients and partners for your time out of the office is by giving them advanced notice of the dates you will be away. Providing at least a week’s notice, either by phone or email, to any clients you currently have projects or deals in the works will allow you to discuss and prioritize anything that needs to be taken care of prior to your time out of the office and also figure out what can wait to be addressed until you’re back and develop a plan for that.

For clients and partners, you might not be actively working with, another easy way to address this is by adding a line into your email signature noting that you are going to be out of office and the dates you will be gone. This ensures you are covering all of your bases and letting as many people as possible know when you will be away, meaning there is less opportunity for problems to arise while you’re gone.

Set Your Backups

Why does it always seem like problems happen at the most inopportune times? Despite your best efforts to be proactive with your clients, the chances of something going wrong or something urgent popping up while you’re away are often good in the mortgage industry.

That’s why to set yourself up for success you also need to prepare your internal team and set backups to deal with any issues that may arise when you’re gone. Huddle up with your team to discuss any projects that are currently in progress, cover any deals that are in the pipeline, and create a plan of action for how things should be handled while you are out.

Depending on your workload and current projects that are underway, make sure you designate as many people as you may need to cover any issues that may arise and make sure your backups are covering areas of your workload that they are familiar with and comfortable taking on. Provide your backups with details as to how to best handle the tasks they are assigned to cover and in the event something goes awry, give them detailed guidance on how to troubleshoot and resolve issues.

You should also ask the people you designate as your backups to keep notes as to what goes on with areas they are covering when you are out of office. That way it will be extremely easy for you to pick up on any items in process when you return.

Finally, just as you alerted your clients and partners that you would be out of the office, let the people you work with know who to go to as your backups while you are out. In case issues do pop up, it will save time when your clients know who to contact immediately rather than reaching out to you and getting frustrated when they receive your out-of-office. These details can also be included in your out-of-office message to reinforce who people should be contacting to resolve problems during this time.

In Case of Emergency

As a final precaution when you utilize your time off, it is important to have instructions for what to do in the case of a true work emergency. You should designate one person as your “second in command” that in the event things are really going sideways, they have the ability to reach you. This should be someone you trust that would only reach out to you in circumstances that are truly considered an emergency, something that no one else in your organization would be equipped to handle or address.

If you have taken all of the other steps outlined to appropriately set yourself and others in your organization up for success, this should really be the only reason you would ever need to have your time off interrupted. Meaning in most cases, you will truly be able to disconnect when you use your PTO in the future.

Despite the mortgage industry being a space that tries to glorify the grind to get deals done, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to not only use your time off but also not feel like you need to work during that time. Appropriately preparing beforehand can make all the difference and set you up for what your time off is meant for, rest, relaxation, and a chance to reset.

This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine November 2023 issue.
Erica LaCentra headshot
Erica LaCentra

Erica LaCentra is Chief Marketing Officer for RCN Capital.

Published on
Nov 02, 2023
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