No Time to Lose: A Search for Work / Life Balance

Paycations? by notimetolose
May 25, 2009, 9:31 pm
Filed under: news articles | Tags: , , , ,

Oh no…

What a world we live that this article, found at, is pushing the “hip new trend” of working multiple jobs, not because someone needs to in order to get by, but because its a savvy thing to do.

At least the final line suggests this might all be quite ridiculous…

But what about the under 50 set that feels increasing pressure to network and build capacity at *all* times, just to have some chance of finding work after their contract expire, or their company lays them off to increase profit margins?

Not good.


Is it time for a paycation?

A new trend is to use vacation days from one job to work at another.
But is your time worth the extra cash?

Tired of travel buzzwords? Here’s one you might like the sound of: paycation.

This year, instead of spending on a trip or sticking close to home some people will use their vacation time from their main job to earn some extra cash at a second one.

Others will keep right on working and give up their holiday time altogether — if their company will pay out for those unused vacation days.

So what’s the scoop? You won’t find a lot of information or statistics about paycations — they’re essentially grouped in with “second jobs”.

In the U.S., the number of people who picked up second jobs rose to 5.5 per cent of the population in 2008, according to a post on Consumer Reports. More than one quarter of people working a second job are doing so to pay off debts, while more than a third are doing it for the extra money.

And where are the opportunities? Don’t get your hopes up too high — According to Consumer Reports, most of the secondary jobs are in health and education services, leisure and hospitality and retail. Many paycation opportunities are likely to be summer camps, working at a local restaurant or hotel or selling goods in a local shop.

However, with a week or two off work there’s an opportunity for professionals to make use of their skills in other arenas, such as:

  • Teaching a class or course (whether it’s just a day or a week-long course)
  • Picking up some freelance or consulting work in their field.
  • Launching a home business, website or blog.
  • Working on money-earning hobbies.

But is it worth your time? Here are some things to consider:


  • Build your network. Networking is one of the “must do” activities for professional development, especially in a time when many people find themselves in a precarious job situation. A new position means you’ll come into contact with new people and form new connections that will be mutually beneficial later on.
  • Focus on professional development. Develop new skills, learn about another business or industry and beef up your resume. There’s something to learn from any new job or experience you take, and you can apply job-specific skills and transferable skills to your current job.
  • Build your portfolio. Skills are nice, but so is proof of what you can accomplish. Our regular jobs can box us into certain responsibilities and target audiences. In order to have a balanced portfolio of work, you may need to get beyond your regular job to show off other assets.
  • Start something big. Picking up some consulting or freelance work can turn into a long-term money-maker as a home business or “on the side” work.
  • And perhaps the most obvious benefit: Extra cash. For many people, it means a boost to their savings or an investment in home renovations. It might pay for a vacation later on, and help pay down some debt.


  • Additional job stress. Taking a break from work (whether you travel or not) provides some much needed respite and relaxation which is good for your health. On the other hand, skipping your holidays won’t give you a break from the stress, which can contribute to job burnout.
  • Chances are you’ll also have to deal with learning new skills and working with new people in a short period of time — which can cause tension.
  • Fewer opportunities for stress management. In addition, you may find yourself with less time to spend on hobbies, fitness and other activities that are necessarily for managing stress and leading a healthy lifestyle.
  • Personal sacrifices. More time working means less time with your family and friends. You can’t put a price tag on that time, or “buy it back”.
  • The jobs aren’t good enough. Networking and professional development are worthwhile goals, but many paycation opportunities aren’t the high-level positions many people are seeking. Many people find greater fulfillment by giving away their time for free — and volunteer and service-oriented vacations are taking off as a result.
  • More money for the government, not for you. Who else are you subsidizing with your extra hours? Taxes and other work-related expenses may eat into your earnings.

If you decide to try it

Thinking of giving it a shot? Here are some other steps to weigh in:

  • Look at your current income and crunch some numbers. In some cases, that extra cash might alter your tax bracket — meaning you’ll pay more to the government. You might also incur additional costs above and beyond your normal expenses like travel costs. However, if you’re investing more into your RRSP or TFSA, you’ll see some pay-offs in the future.
  • Review your current contract to make sure there aren’t any conflicts. Some companies prohibit their employees from taking on outside work in their field, and working for a competitor is definitely a no-no. Make sure your paycation job doesn’t violate the terms of your current contract, and that there’s no conflict of interest involved.
  • Know what you’re getting into. Find out the details of what the time commitment will be, and what duties or projects you’ll be responsible for. Ask what will happen if the position runs over it’s projected time and you have to go back to work. (And get the details in writing too).
  • Watch out for scams. Employment scams are popular in these tough times. Learn as much as you can about the company and the opportunity, and be sceptical of too-good-to-be-true offers. Be very cautious about when and to whom you give out personal information. (For more tips, see Avoid online employment scams).
  • Be wary of the word “paycation” : it’s commonly used to promote travel clubs and network marketing businesses (e.g. setting up your own online travel agency). Many of these schemes involve selling travel through a website you pay to set up and maintain, as well as recruiting others and selling the business opportunity to them. (If you’re interested those offers, do your research and carefully evaluation any opportunities — especially whether or not they’re legal in your area due to travel industry regulations).
  • Work your network. Finding a paycation position won’t be easy — unless you know where to look. Draw on your usual job search strategies, especially talking to friends and colleagues. Let people know you are open to a temporary opportunity.

Is a paycation worth pursuing or is it just another passing fad? Ignore the buzzword. Instead, weigh the benefits and pitfalls before agreeing to give up your time (or dismissing the idea altogether).

Source: Consumer Reports

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