Home > Ideas and Philosophy > Measuring Your Vacation Success

Measuring Your Vacation Success

I wondered if there was some anecdotal measure that can be used to attempt to quantify how successful one’s vacation is. I actually thought about this before, qualitatively. Now I’m looking for something actually measurable to a certain extent; this is one way that I think might work.

Overall Principle: A vacation is successful if you have complete control of your time out from work to complete what you want to do within the budget you set for yourself.

Factor 1: Time Ownership

The point of going on a vacation is you have time for yourself. The idea is you have all of your vacation time – 100.00% – to do as you please. Any deviation from the ideal should be measured.


1. The base unit of measuring time is one hour.
2. The start date of your vacation is counted at 12:00:00 a.m. of the day you say your break will start.
3. The end date of your vacation is up to 11:59:59 p.m. of the day just before the day you say you’ll report back to work.
4. Your total vacation time is the number of hours between your start date and end date.

For example:
• If you say your vacation starts on April 7, then it starts at 12:00:00 a.m. of April 7.
• If you say you’ll return to the office on April 17, then your vacation is up to 11:59:59 p.m. of April 16.
• Your total vacation time is 216.0 hours.

If you still need to do some work then it should be at the absolute minimum needed, and nothing more.

The following are illustrative examples of what can be counted as work and hence “you’re still working;” by no means is this exhaustive as there could be other situations that can be considered work:

1. Checking work e-mail is counted as work; attending meetings would be worse.
2. Any time you spend showing up as online using your company’s messaging system is counted as work, because it opens the possibility of you getting contacted.
3. Ideally no one from the office will contact you during your vacation. However if you get a text or call, then the time spent processing such contact is counted as work.
4. Spending time inside the office premises, even if you’re literally not doing anything, is counted as work – you could / should be somewhere else during your vacation.
5. Thinking about anything related to work is counted as work – you’re supposed to detach yourself from your business, otherwise technically you’re still working.

Work time: Count the total number of hours these work-related tasks accumulate. This number of hours represents time ownership you lost because of work.

The time you have should be at your full disposal to do as you please. If you’re given non-work-related tasks that were not previously established as something you agreed to do on a regular basis, in other words you’re doing work (“chores?”) that someone else asked you to do, then that is still time taken away from you that you could have otherwise spent on what you want to do.

For example: Your friend asked a favor that you drive him to the airport. Considering traffic and the time and effort to do this task, such is time that you could have otherwise used for your own benefit.

Other work time: Count the total number of hours these non-work-related tasks accumulate. This number of hours represents time ownership you lost because of these tasks.

Computation procedure:
1. Total the work time and other work time and subtract this from your total vacation time.
2. Express the time you actually owned as a percentage of your total vacation time.

For example:
• You still got called to provide information to a colleague and that took an hour to complete.
• On another day, you had no choice but to drive your friend to the airport, and the whole effort took four hours of your time.
• At the end of your vacation, you only owned 216.0 – 1.0 – 4.0 = 211.0 hours or 97.69% of your time.

For further analysis, try also measuring your importance at work. In theory, it shouldn’t be surprising that if you’re more important at work, then there’s a tendency for you to still be asked to do some form or another of work during your vacation.

Factor 2: Task Completion

It’s important to have a plan of what you want to do during your vacation. You might have full ownership of your vacation time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve successfully used it.

Success as used in this context is defined as the ability to complete something you want to do during the time you set out for vacation.

1. Explicitly list down what you want to do. Either that or at least have an implicit but clear understanding of what you want to do during your vacation.
2. Be specific enough so that you can easily measure success or failure.
3. And just as important, be realistic in the goals you set.
4. Not having a plan to do anything at all should NOT be considered a waste of time – choosing to not do anything is still choosing to do something.
5. Note that it’s possible you find yourself doing more things than you originally planned to do due to opportunities and circumstances, and that’s good – it just means you made more use of your vacation time to do what you want to do.

For example:
• You target to complete reading a 1,000 page book in a span of 216.0 hours. Knowing yourself, you know this isn’t realistic. By the end of those hours, you’re not even half-way through the book. You thus fail to complete this task.
• Using the same scenario, you set a more realistic target to complete reading the first 100 pages of the book – as far as you’re concerned, that’s enough to say that you started reading it. By the end of your vacation, you can mark this task as completed.

Computation procedure:
1. Total all the tasks you set out to do during your vacation. Count those tasks you marked as completed.
2. Express the tasks you’ve been able to complete as a percentage of the total tasks you set out to do.
3. If you literally didn’t plan on doing anything at all (just sit back and watch life pass you by and what-not) then consider yourself as 100.00% on completing your tasks.

For example: You planned to do 10 things during your 216.0 hour vacation, and managed to complete all but one of them (you barely got to open the book you wanted to start reading) in the end. You’ve thus completed 90.00% of your tasks.

Factor 3: Financial Forecast

One way or another, going on vacation not surprisingly still involves spending money, and such is still something that has to be considered.

1. If money isn’t a problem, then automatically consider yourself as 100.00% on target.
2. If money needs to be monitored, then set a budget, and track your expenses daily against that budget.

Computation procedure:
1. At the end of your vacation, if you’ve spent less than or equal to your target budget, then consider yourself as 100.00% on target.
2. However if you went over-budget, then compute the variance of this over-budget and subtract that from 100.00%.
3. Note that getting severely over-budget can lead to negative values when finally computing how much you’ve deviated from the target.

For example:
• For your 216.0 hour vacation you allotted to budget PHP 1,000.00 for any and all expenses. However you ended up spending PHP 1,100.00 instead. You thus went (1,100 – 1,000) / 1,100 * 100 = 10.00% over-budget.
• As far as your financial forecast is concerned, you’re only 100% – 10% = 90.00% on target.

Final Assessment

Take all factors into consideration when you assess your vacation success. Depending on your priorities, assign a specific weight to each of them; obviously this can be quite arbitrary, and it really depends on your priorities, so use what makes sense to you.

As a starting point, you can assign weights to each factor as follows:
1. Time Ownership: 40.00%.
2. Task Completion: 30.00%.
3. Financial Forecast: 30.00%.

Computation procedure:
1. Multiply the percentage of each factor by the respective weight you assigned to it.
2. Get the total of the resulting percentages to get your final percentage assessment of your vacation success.

For example:
• Throughout your 216.0 hour vacation, you only owned 97.69% of that time. (From your measurement of work importance, you happen to be just important enough to be asked a few things here and there hence some work was still expected from you.) The weight this carries is 97.69% * 40.00% = 39.07%.
• You only completed 90.00% of the tasks you planned. The weight this carries is 90.00% * 30.00% = 27.00%.
• You went over-budget by 10.00%, hence you were only able to achieve 90.00% of your targeted budget. The weight this carries is 90.00% * 30.00% = 27.00%.
• Your total vacation success metric is 39.07% + 27.00% + 27.00% = 93.07%.

1. In this day and age, a perfect vacation probably doesn’t exist, but if it did, then it would rate at 100.00% based on the anecdotal measurements defined here.
2. I think it’s safe to say that a rating of 90.00% and above means your vacation was “realistically good.”
3. A rating between 70.00% – 90.00% is still okay, all things considered, but for sure it “could have been better.”
4. Anything below 70.00% can be considered “poor” / “better than nothing since it was still something” (obviously not as satisfying).  And rating 50.00% and below can mean the vacation was a failure / disaster.

At the end of the day, it’s important that you live the life you want to live. And this isn’t just during time away from work, but every moment of time our good Lord grants to you. You should always make the time for what’s important.  Having a successful vacation is one of those moments you deserve to fully enjoy.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy
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