Just recently, I noticed as I was driving around that everyone seems to be frantic. Or, is it more frenetic? Folks weaving in and out, road rage, and overall cortisol on overload.
In comparison, I just spent three months in Australia. And, my three months there was met with an attitude more “European” in senses. People – while, yes, needing to work hard – are not frantic. They tend to be more social, more open to chatting, and more about friends and family than over-the-top work.
Let’s face it! While what we do in fundraising is mission-critical, it is not, in most cases, life or death. No one is going to die if we leave the office at 5 p.m. and leave work until the next workday.
I was further reminded of this by my own team. Slack, Trello, and email messages going on and on, way past dinner time, forcing team members conscientious enough to feel compelled to answer and continue working on what really are not life or death issues; all the while taking away from valuable family and friend time. If we can’t get the work done in our workday hours, then there is an issue, either with our ability to master skills, be effective, or working for unrealistic expectations…but, again, this is not life and death. The pure fact of the matter is that no one at their time of death comments about how they wish they had met that one last deadline. It is probably more along the lines of, I wish I had spent more time with my family members.
Not only that but, while you may think working harder and more is the answer, it just leads to burnout and truly not being effective in your job. We all need to recharge and come back more productive, and we need that even more so than our once yearly vacation that we really don’t take because we still have our eyes on email.
So, what are we to do?
Here are some simple steps that you can take to reduce the frenetic pace of our work culture.
1) Invest in Gmail software that allows you to actually “pause” your inbox, meaning that you do not receive your emails after a certain time or on a certain schedule (i.e., twice daily.) This will reduce this back and forth email culture that is developing and that takes away from our actual work leaving us asking ourselves, what did we really accomplish today? You can check out https://www.otherinbox.com/inbox-pause/ or https://www.boomeranggmail.com/inboxpause/ or any other. Boomerang happens to be my favorite!
2) Consider adding an autoresponder to your email. Here is mine:
Thanks for emailing!
I hope that you are having a good evening.
I try not to respond to emails or phone calls after 5 p.m. EST on weekdays or at all on weekends.
So, thank you for your email. I will get back to you tomorrow morning or, if this is the weekend, on Monday morning.
Have a great rest of your night.
or you may want to try one like this:
Thank you for contacting XXXXX. We are currently busy capturing and preserving special memories for our clients. Your email is important to us and we will respond between 3 PM and 6 PM (Monday through Friday). Thank you for your patience as we devote our full attention to our clients.
3) Take time out! Just stop and go for a walk, meditate, pick up a book, do anything but work. Your brain needs a reboot and recharge. Just be.
4) Consider actually taking a lunch hour. How can you be focused on your work and your health when you sit at your desk with a slice of pizza in one hand and your other hand on the keyboard?
5) Consciously create a “Priority Tomorrow To Do” before you end your workday. Set your intention for what you hope to accomplish and promise yourself to get your “To Do” list accomplished before you actually go into the email heap. Match your daily “To Do” list with your priorities.
6) Spend time connecting with family and friends. And, I don’t mean going on social media and liking their photos. I mean scheduling a time to visit and just sit and chat and get caught up. Each week on Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m., it is Coffee and Scones with good friends. You know, like a real conversation.
7) Schedule time each day for leisure activities. For me, I take time out each day to go for a daily swim and run. It fills my soul and recharges me. Plus, it is an instant stress-reliever.
8) Take your weekend time! Don’t work over the weekend or keep work to a minimum. This is your time to spend with family and friends, recharge your batteries, and getting your many house chores done. Find something fun to do – a new hobby or adventure or spending quality family time together. Just don’t work unless you absolutely have to do so.
9) Vacations…take them! Don’t spend time on your cellphone or working by the pool. Recently, I went to Fiji. And, while I was frustrated for the first day over the lack of wireless connectivity, I soon found it to be just what I needed. No wi-fi to connect with the outside world!
10) Take a mid-day siesta. Yes, take a nap. Once upon a time, I would go out to my car on my lunch hour and close my eyes for a good 20-minutes. That 20-minutes made all the difference in recharging my batteries. Sometimes, your body makes you take that rest. It just stops. So, stop and rest before your body tells you in a harsh way that you need to stop and rest.
As a culture, and particularly as fundraisers, we need to stop this frenetic pace. We are becoming less productive, less safe, and making many more mistakes than ever before. Are we actually getting more accomplished or less? And, how are we enjoying the journey if we are so frazzled, needing to get places faster, with a phone in hand, that we forget our fellow brother or sister? Yes, I understand the expectations are many, but we get to call the shots against them. We don’t have to be part of pushing the pace by working more than 8 hours, or by working on weekends, or by putting our friends and family on the backburner. We do get to take a stand.
Let’s remember, this is not life or death. This is work. It may be a vocation but let’s not make it a cost to ourselves and others.
Join my new nonprofit “tribe” who are surviving and thriving! Click HERE to join my private Facebook group: Nonprofit Survive and Thrive Mastermind and receive support and inspiration to drive your results.