In the last five posts on our summertime lessons I’ve been writing about a variety of things to DO with your more laid back summer. This last summertime lesson is just the opposite.
That’s right…take some time off from your important, time-consuming work and don’t do anything.
Personally, this is hard for me to do. I grew up with parents who were always on the go and I have close family members who feel they aren’t worthy if they’re not always doing something “productive.” So I feel all that pressure myself.
However, I know if I don’t take time for myself, or as Richard would say, “Preserve Self”, I will not be effective in my work over the long haul.
I’m going to tell you that NOT taking time off for yourself is counter-productive and quite unhealthy. I find this problem particularly in the non-profit arena. I’m not exactly sure why it is so prevalent in our industry, but often I witness people putting in 60 hours a week and others who have literally months of vacation time stored away.
And they’re not storing it away for some long vacation to travel the world. No, they just don’t use their vacation time.
If you are one of these people, Richard and I implore you to take some time off, give your brain a rest and decompress. Hey, you don’t even need to go anywhere. Just stay at home if finances are tight. The point is, YOU need to rest. And the world isn’t going to end if you are NOT in the office.
That’s right. Nothing will blow up nor will anyone die.
Taking time off allows you to get perspective, become renewed and once again feel inspired to do the work that you do. If we don’t rest well, we don’t work well. Somehow we forget that and think that if we take some time to rest, something will go wrong or fall apart.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Now, sometimes this is not your fault. I’ve seen non-profit cultures that actually foster the type of environment where they encourage employees to work all the time. People are expected to stay late, and if they want to take time off, it’s almost as if they’re breaking some kind of unwritten law.
Do you have this kind of culture?
Managers can be a problem too. I’ve known MGO’s who have a hard time asking their bosses for time off because they’ve had too many negative experiences in the past when the manager makes them feel bad for taking time away.
If you’re a manager who acts this way…please stop it now. There is no positive outcome for doing this.
Look, you have a stressful job. There are a ton of demands, deadlines and headaches that come with working with major donors. And I know that if you are good, you love it. But, (and I’m just going to say it) you can LOVE it too much. Don’t be one of those people.
Understand that to be effective, you have to rest. You have to let go and just be. Yes, I know that is hard for you. But, if you can make a practice of times to rest, you’ll be much healthier and happier in work and at home.
Now, take some time off!