Work. What Life?

Maintaining a work/life balance can be… um… “challenging” at times.  To often, we live to work instead of the reverse.  And in nonprofits it is quite common.  There is always more work to do than can actually be accomplished realistically in one work day or one work week or one work year.  Many times departments are understaffed and a nonprofit workerbee ends up wearing 3 or more hats.  So, how do you get all your work done and still have a life?

Simple answer: you don’t.

Awhile back, one of my clients who is the VP of Development for a nonprofit organization was telling me that she had too much on her plate.  She had so many meetings during the day and other things to attend to at the office, that she wasn’t getting to her emails or being able to finish proposals.  She proposed that she start coming in on weekends so she could get all her work done.  It was the only way she thought she could “catch up”.  I advised her against coming in on weekends.  She was never going to “catch up” but she certainly was going to have to work every weekend from here on out.

So, how does one “catch up”?

Honestly, I don’t know.  But I do know that setting boundaries makes a big difference.  If you don’t have time to write proposals because you are constantly being interrupted in the office, then create a place where you are uninterrupted.  This can be as simple as closing your door (if you have one), turning off your phone and not checking your email.  Or get away from your office – go to a coffee shop (they are the alternate office these days anyways) or go home.  Somewhere that is not distracting to you and allows you to think, create and write.

What about having a life?

Schedule it in!  Seriously.  We all have blackberries, treos, iPhones or other “handheld” calendars.  Write in time for yourself.  I schedule yoga classes into my daily calendar.  It ensures I don’t miss class and that I schedule my other meetings around it.  Or just schedule time for yourself.  One of my fundraising friends told me she has an event almost every night this week for work, so she purposely scheduled one night as “personal” so she wouldn’t put down one more work event.  Schedule yourself in.

And take time for yourself.  Turn off your phone (all of them).  Stop checking your email.  Turn off your thoughts about work – okay, that might be impossible, but you can definitely refocus them.

So, this weekend: Get a life!


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