Summer Holidays

Posted in executive director / vacation / staff team

Summer Holidays

Summer is here and we know its going to be short. Every non-profit executive director needs to take time off, actual holidays, while the weather is nice. But, wow, its hard, right?

Right from our early days working at a non-profit, we’re trained to feel guilty if we don’t work every day. Think back to when you started. Did you take a few holiday days but feel full of guilt and worry about what was happening at the office? Maybe a few years later, you understood a little better that you needed to take time off, but you still took your laptop with you and answered emails daily. Or are you a long-time employee who has become so burned out you aren’t even bothering to take holidays anymore?

Let’s look at reasons you should take holidays, and then I’ll give you a few ways to get started.

Here are the 4 reasons you need to take holidays.

  1. Your mind and body both need a rest. So, simple, but non-profit executive directors have a bad habit of ignoring their own exhaustion and working around the clock.
  2. Your team needs to learn to work effectively when someone, including the executive director, is away on holidays – because healthy teams take holidays.
  3. You don’t want to model bad behaviour. Teach your team that their time off is important by demonstrating that you value your own time off.
  4. Your auditor might decide to add up all those unused holiday hours and record it as a liability on your financial statements. No one wants to see that, and its completely avoidable. 

Practice 3 easy exercises and soon, your vacation muscle will be strong enough for you to confidently take a full week of holidays, maybe even two weeks.

But all the reasons in world don’t make it any easier to actually take time away from work. So, just like building any muscle, here are 3 easy exercises you can use to build up your strength to finally take time off.

  1. Try taking a day or two on either side of a long weekend. It’s a great way to get a chunk of time off and feel rested, without as much worry about taking a full week away. Once you start this practice, you’ll begin to notice that there are other people in your work world (vendors, partners, clients) who are doing the same thing. You may even decide to do this every long weekend.
  2. Try taking the exact same days off as your team. For example, are some of your employees taking the same few days off? Those happy coincidences are a great way to build your own vacation muscle. If your organization can schedule around it (and I know this won’t work for all groups), having the whole team away for the same number of days, means you can simply tell people ‘The office is closed.’ No one will be emailing each other, and everyone will be in the same ‘need to get caught up’ position when they return.  
  3. Tame the email beast, especially if you get work email on your cell phone. Create a folder in your email program, called something like ‘after holiday.’ Then as emails come up, do only 1 of 2 actions. For all those newsletters and updates we all get but don’t need to read, delete the email. For those emails that need action, move them into the ‘after holiday’ folder. This will keep your inbox clear, will make you feel you had eyes on everything that came in, but you didn’t actually spend time handling each item. After a few days of this, it will become so automatic, you won’t even notice you’re doing it.

Practice these easy exercises and soon, your vacation muscle will be strong enough for you to confidently take a full week of holidays, maybe even two weeks.

I hope you’ve found these ideas helpful. If you have a question, please leave a comment, or send me a message. I’d love to help you out. Talk to you soon. 😊


Hi, I'm Christie Saas, former board member, current Executive Director, and non-profit volunteer. I remember well, those early years when I lacked the training, the confidence, and the work-life balance to focus on becoming the best non-profit leader I could be.

Fast-forward past many bumps in the road, lessons learned, and you’ll find me still in the trenches, but a little wiser, a little calmer, and a whole lot happier. I love my work and I want to help you love yours too.

I created to give you tools, tips, and templates to remove the mystery of learning to run a small non-profit. If you’re a brand-new non-profit leader, or a little more seasoned, someone who’s looking to make a meaningful contribution and still have time for a full life away from the job, you’re in the right place.

© Christie Saas 2021 All Rights Reserved
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