Travel season is upon us. Unsurprisingly, unplugging from work is good for the mind, body and soul. Vacations allow us to step outside of our day-to-day grind, take time for ourselves, explore new places, create memories with loved ones and truly live in the moment. However, for those of us who work in the non-profit sector and feel a responsibility for making the world a better place, justifying a vacation can prove to be challenging at times.
Important tasks always seem to vie for our attention. Whether it’s attending to donors, working through mounting production needs for events, evolving operational strategies or ultimately delivering on our mission for the people we serve, work is always waiting for us. Let’s not forget the additional layer of responsibility and stewardship involved for those in leadership positions.
All things combined, taking time off can prove to be tricky.
I recently sat down with our NAH Foundation President/CEO, Rick Smith, and asked what advice he might give to those who struggle with this issue. This is what he shared:
HJ: Why do you think it’s so hard for people to take time off?
RS: I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, our organization is relatively small, and I worry that my absence might slow a process down. It’s also hard knowing that if I’m out, I can’t be a support for our dedicated staff.
HJ: What advice do you have for someone who struggles with taking time off, especially in a small non-profit where every minute of work directly impacts the people you serve?
RS: Well, you’re not any good to an organization if you’re not at the top of your game. Time off has nothing to do with your dedication; it’s time to recharge. If you don’t make time to separate yourself from work, especially cause-related work, it will consume you and start to affect other parts of your life.
There is always work to do. Time with loved ones to explore and make new memories is worth the break. And, believe me, you’ll come back even more rejuvenated that when you left.
HJ: Do you have any quick tips for people to consider when preparing for a vacation?
- Coordinate and delegate responsibilities. Make sure you’ve tied up your loose ends and worked with staff to ensure work continues to move forward.
- Empower others to make decisions while you’re out. Clarifying goals and expectations supports in this process.
- Don’t be a bottleneck. If there are meetings or gatherings you will be missing that can carry on without you, then let them carry on. Don’t worry about rescheduling.
- Set boundaries. When I’m off, I let check my email every morning for 20-30 minutes, and then I try not to think about work.
- Remember your priorities when you’re on vacation. Whether you’re on the beach or somewhere birding, give into the experience, that’s why it’s called a vacation.
HJ: Anything else you’d like to share?
RS: The staff is the number one asset of any non-profit organization. That’s why it’s important that everyone takes the time to disconnect and recharge. It could be just one day every few months or a few weeks every year. It might not feel like a natural thing to do, but you’ll come back with so much more energy you can productively apply toward the good fight. FBN
By Hannah Johnson