Don’t Be a Martyr for Your Mission, Max Your Vacation Time

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A recent report shows that unused vacation time is at a 40-year high.  It seems that more and more workers are simply not taking their earned vacation time or they believe they can’t take time away from their jobs. While these workers believe they are doing what they have to do to get their jobs done, they are actually sacrificing their productivity.

Especially as fundraisers and nonprofit executives, we need to take time away to recharge.  Let’s face it … many of us are under compensated and the job can be quite stressful at times.  Yes, it is incredibly rewarding when we see the impact of our work as the charity’s mission is fulfilled.  However, that sense of fulfillment is not enough.  We need to get away and recharge.

I am proud to say that I have never let a vacation day go to waste.  I don’t always go on vacation, but I always use those days.  Something as simple as a morning hike followed by a relaxing lunch with a long lost acquaintance and an afternoon with a good book (or craft beer) is a perfect way to recharge.

Now that I’m a bit further along in my career, I am able to schedule a week of vacation quarterly.  Some of these weeks are family trips, some are for home projects and some are simply scheduled (the activities will be figured out spontaneously that week).  The key is they are scheduled and the days are used … always.  By blocking these weeks 6 to 9 months ahead of time, I ensure that they actually happen before something pops onto that week on my calendar and it is no longer possible.

While you may think that not using your vacation time will get you more recognition and make you more effective, you couldn’t be more wrong.  You are essentially become a martyr for your mission.  You will burn out and you will not be as effective as you would be after a refresh and recharge.

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