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Use It Or Lose It

December 24, 2018

We all got new computers. Why? We’d been begging for new computers for months. But, now, we finally got them. Why? Because of the calendar. It was December 1, and our department still had budget left. This was years ago, but the same things plays across conference rooms all around the world.


It’s called “Use it or lose it.”

I once went on a training mission with our ROTC class. It was a “night manuevers” type of exercise. But, it was a bunch of college kids, so it was not exactly Seal Team Six. At the end of the evening, before we headed back to the busses, the instructors had us stand in a circle, (Facing out, we weren’t THAT stupid.)

We all had rifles, and about a hundred rounds of blanks.

Load your weapon. When you are instructed to fire, you will fire and reload until all of your ammunition is exhausted.



Fire at will

The desert lit up with the flashes from two dozen assault rifle flashes.


It’s called “Use it or lose it.”

It’s an extremely inefficient way to do things.

I’ve only seen one case where it made any sort of sense. I’m a volunteer scout leader through my local church. We get an annual budget. The young women’s organiation does as well. As we got to the end of the year, we were pressured to make sure we spent all of our budget. Not because we’d lose it for next year, but because the purpose of the budget was to help the young people in our church, not using the money meant we were not helping the young people as much as we could have.

I have my own version of “Use it or lose it.” Today was a vacation day. But, no one was working anyway. The difference between a vacation day and non vacation day on Christmas eve, in an IT job, during an IT Freeze, is mostly a matter of bookkeeping.

If something broke today, I’d have to fix it. But, taking a vacation day did mean I didn’t have to look at email or try to find something to do.

But, mostly today is a vacation day because my company has a “Use it or lose it” policy for vacation days. If I didn’t use my remaining vacation days I’d lose them at the end of the year.

Most times, “Use it or lose it” is a terrible strategy. One interesting way to know it’s flawed, is that small business owners, the ones who control the entire company never have a use it or lose it mentality.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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