MY Hines

Time Off Guide for Nonprofit Techs

Posted on: April 28, 2010

There is always a chance for you to get some time off – even if you are a nonprofit tech. Just last year I gave everyone in my organization a 6 month notice that I was going to Disney World and that my Blackberry would be locked in the safe in my house – just to let them all know that there are times when I cannot always be connected.

But when you get this time, it’s always hard when you get back. That has been the case since I have returned from the Nonprofit Technology Conference. In fact, I’m going to list some of my tips below for when you are gone for several days and I will readily admit right now, I am including them because I didn’t do them myself.

  1. Do expect something to go wrong – You probably are expecting something small to go wrong while you are gone – maybe a printer runs out of toner and there is no spare toner on site for it. That’s a minor something going wrong. However, I’m in the school of thought that it is easier to be prepared for that pet project that you have held together for the past eight month that finally seemed to be all ready to launch to have something threaten the timeframe. It is much easier to come back and found out that the pet project kept on track. But the disappointment of having it go off track because you were expecting it to stay the course is hard to shake from your mood and it colors everything.
  2. Don’t start new staff the day you return – If you can avoid this, do it. I wasn’t able to do that and I love having new staff. But it also put a lot of extra pressure on me before I left to make sure that I had a training plan in place, all the papers that had to be filled out ready to go, and made it impossible to catch up with email until my third day back because I was so focused on bringing the new staff member into the loop of how we work. There are some of us that need the staff so badly that we’ll take them whenever we can – but if you can, avoid it being right when you return.
  3. Don’t misplace your excitement for the job – This was so hard when I came back from the Nonprofit Technology Conference. I was so excited about all the new things that I learned. I wanted to go through all of my notes, I wanted to share my resources, and I wanted to try new things out that I had been suggested. Then I walked into my office and dealt with the reality that I had in front of me and I almost lost that excitement. I have held onto it for weeks now and am now really starting to share the resources, let others know what I learned and finally getting to read those books that I got. You have to find a way to hold onto that excitement for the job. Even when you are gone from the job for a personal vacation, you almost always come back with an idea of what you are going to do next. Don’t let the 1,000+ emails in your inbox deter you.
  4. Schedule time with your direct supervisor in those first couple days that you return – This was a hard lesson I learned and I learned it well. I need to make sure that I have this time into my supervisor’s schedule or it may be days until I get in front of that supervisor after I return. Yes, it’s important to let that person know what you learned or the fun you had while off  – but you need that knowledge transfer of what transpired while you were gone also.
  5. Do not rehash what didn’t get done – It makes no sense to go over all the things that didn’t get completed while you are gone – even if some people said that they would be done. It makes no sense and what the focus should be on is moving forward from that point in time.
  6. Keep your schedule simple that first full week back – If you were out for almost a full week – keep your schedule as open as possible. If you get filled with meetings during that first week back, you’ll be like me – dreaming of the inbox of over 1,000 emails waiting to get your attention. Sometimes you can’t avoid meetings, but try to avoid extra meetings if possible.
  7. Take a deep breath and schedule your next time away – In my book, I like knowing when I’m getting away from the office again. Even that one day away for a training is sometimes the refreshing break that I have to focus on when I just come back from a trip. I’ve been lucky – coming back from the Nonprofit Technology Conference I know that the second week of May I’m out of here to go to a week-long fun trip to Las Vegas. That has been a great motivator to get right back into the groove so that I don’t fall behind before leaving for that trip. Plus, we all need to have those breaks.
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