Self-Care for Workaholics

First off – three things about me.

  1. I am queen of the side hustle.

    For as long as I can remember, I have been the first to snatch up odd jobs, temporary gigs, and random opportunities to make some extra cheddar. Always legal endeavors, I promise. And spending most of my 20’s broke as a joke didn’t help when it came to making me a habitual worker bee, worrying about how I was going to get by if I wasn’t working 24/7. There’s a little demon inside of me that is always telling me to get to work.

  2. I am a proud worker bee.

    I actually like to work. It’s fulfilling to me, it’s exciting, and I have always been better at work than I was at school. Standardized tests, ugh. Enjoying my work means that I spend a lot of time on it… generally speaking, I work every day, even if it’s just for an hour. You might be thinking “oof, that sounds unhealthy.” You’re right. But as they say, the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem.

  3. I’m a freelancer.

    My fellow freelancers can tell you – there’s no such thing as a day off. Flexible schedules and working from anywhere you like are awesome perks, to be sure, but having an often erratic workload and a variety of contracts can sometimes mean that you’re just going to need to do the work when it comes in, and that can stick you with an 8 – day workweek.

The combination of enjoying work, and lots of it, has put me in a position where sometimes it’s difficult to come up for air and take a break. But it’s really important to do that, and so today I’d like to share what works for me, so that you, my fellow crazy workhorse person, can also start building a more balanced, enjoyable work/life dynamic.

It’ll be great, I promise.

What does a break look like to you?

Someone asked me this once, my jaw practically hit the floor, and I was really upset to discover that I had no answer for that question. I’d been so busy grinding that I had lost sight of what relaxation even meant to me. The beauty of this question is that you get to answer it yourself. Do you like hiking? Appreciating the artful stylings of Keyboard Cat? It doesn’t really matter. Now you have a place to start.

Use your powers for good.

If you’re hyper-organized and great with time management, you’re 75% of the way to success when it comes to sticking some me-time into your day. Schedule a break for yourself! “11:00 a.m. Hula Hoop Session” or “Lunchtime Nap”. Try it. Then hold yourself to it. You’re a disciplined person, you can do it.

Just say NO.

It took me a little too long to learn the power of a well-placed “no”, but boy howdy did it make a big impact when I finally did. As it turns out, declining offers for gigs that aren’t going to lead to more and better work down the line, social engagements that are more of a hassle than a good time, and requests for help from people that can probably take care of themselves, are all great ways to lighten your load and help you focus more on you.

Bottom line – You are your biggest, most important asset.

I know this is not the first time you have heard this, and it won’t be the last. Don’t allow yourself to burn out. Make time for things you love, say no to things you don’t (when possible), and thank your heart, mind, and body for making it possible to work in the first place. Take good care of yourself, my friend.

Want to talk more about treating yourself better? Hit me up on Twitter.

Events Made Easy Peasy

I have planned probably 150+ events in my day… And counting. My list of 5 event management essentials for a successful project might not have lots in common with others, but these points are pretty helpful to me, so I want to share them with the world.

Great event management is all about attitude.

Once you’re confident in yourself and your ability to roll with punches, you’ll be able to implement fantastic events whenever. And – once you learn to harness your inner control freak, you’ll be able to upgrade from Micro Manager to Events Expert.

Plan B

You need contingency plans for the big stuff at your event. What about rain? What if the food for the staff doesn’t show? What if you puke? Ok, you’re not going to puke. But for the pieces of the event that absolutely must work out, you’ll need to consider the backup. A good Plan B is realistic and utilizes resources that will be readily available to you at the event. So, as an example, if your food doesn’t arrive – have petty cash on hand, and send someone to the store for granola bars.

Expect the Unexpected

If you are sure of the fact that something will go differently than you expect, you can prepare yourself for the emotional strain of a sudden change of plans. For me, this falls under a different category than contingency planning, because as the event manager, you have to be ready to keep your emotions in check, pivot, and re-prioritize quickly. I love this post because it’s full of practical strategies for staying cool and calm under pressure.

Too Many Checklists

Over-preparation is a good thing. Many great events run on several series of detailed checklists, and I encourage you to have before, during, and post-event checklists and plans. Here’s a great example of one from Cornell (ever heard of it?

Make sure you let your team in on this stuff, too – more brains holding onto this information is better.  

Duct Tape

You know how the saying goes: “If you can’t duck it, F*** it!” – Seriously though. Tape. It comes in handy, just trust me on this one.


Guess what? Your team can’t read your mind. I know, today of all days, it’d be a big help. If you have a clear picture in your head of how the event ought to go, that is great – now share that with the rest of the class. Your team wants a schedule, a list of other staff and their contact information, and a clear description of what they need to do throughout the day – and who’s doing the other stuff.

Psst…Did you know there’s only one of you? I know, another big bummer. By preparing your team in advance and giving them clear directions, they will be able to execute and shine on their own, without coming to you every 3 minutes with another question.

Now go get ’em, Tiger!

You’re on your way to event management success. Want to talk some more about this topic? Shoot me a message on Twitter!

Nonprofit Board Service Part 3: What Type?

All boards of directors govern, or guide, the work of a given nonprofit organization. This means that the members of the board are expected to weigh in on the big decisions that steer the organization. Most boards also have expectations related to fundraising and time commitments, too. Make sure you understand the role before you sign on.

A helpful question to ask is: “what is the focus of your board right now?”

There are usually two kinds of boards: working boards, and fundraising boards. This simply means that different organizations will want to emphasize different types of work from their board members. The goals, objectives, and deliverables described in your strategic plan will help you to determine what kind of board you ought to have. Don’t have a strategic plan? You likely need one – check out this post from the National Council of Nonprofits on the topic. In the meantime, read on.

Fundraising boards consist of members who are able to help the organization raise money. These people usually have a lot of money themselves, or are connected to other people, companies, and organizations that have access to funding. If your organization is no longer in its infancy and has little groundwork or capacity building work to do, a fundraising board might be a smart type of people to pursue. When it comes to getting your current roster of board members to feel confident about raising money, there’s a lot you can do. I like this post from Nonprofit Hub about getting your board up to speed and excited about fundraising.

A working board has members who do the work of the organization. These people staff events, write grants, and get their hands a bit dirtier with the nitty-gritty and day to day of the organization. They might not be able to raise the big bucks, but they volunteer a lot of their time, and add a lot of value when it comes to expanding the organization’s reach, networks, and relationships. Additionally, these boards might have people whose skill sets or professions match current needs and goals of the organization. So, if you’re planning a big fundraiser, and you have a board member who is a wedding planner, you might put this person to work planning your annual event. You can usually find working boards at smaller organizations where a little extra “people power” is often needed. This post from Nonprofit Know-How digs a little deeper into this topic.

Neither of these types is better than the other, but each type meets different goals.

And, of course, the makeup of your board can be (and likely is) a combination of the two. However, it does help to know what is most important to the organization when you’re recruiting new members or thinking about getting involved.
Want to chat more about board service? Drop me a line on Twitter!

Nonprofit Board Service Part 2: During the Meeting

Ever been to a board meeting before? If not, that is ok! Everyone has to start somewhere. Just so you’re ready, here’s a rundown of what to expect (more or less) in a nonprofit board meeting, and some suggestions for helping things run smoothly.

Most board meetings have a similar progression and agenda.

It’s helpful to set up an agenda your organization can use on a regular basis and stick to it, so that members can submit items that they would like to discuss, and it’s predictable where and when within the agenda you can address each issue.

The secretary is responsible for sending out minutes and the upcoming agenda in advance of upcoming meetings. When this ought to happen is up to your organization, but I’ll take a guess and say that most people would prefer this information a week in advance instead of a day ahead.

The executive committee is responsible for setting the agenda, and so any members of the board who would like to ensure that additional items be included for discussion ought to communicate with the folks responsible for drafting the agenda. Check out my last post for more information about who does what on the board.

Generally speaking, this is how a nonprofit board meeting progresses:

  1. President calls the meeting to order.
  2. President reviews previous meeting notes, and calls on the board to approve them.
    1. Side Note: Board approvals usually require that someone make what’s called a “motion”. This is a suggestion that everyone present agree to move forward with that given decision. So, in this case, the president might ask, “Motion to approve the minutes from last month’s meeting?” and then two additional board members will need to act. One will say something like “I move that we approve the notes from our last meeting” and then another, different member will say “I second” which means that they agree, and the group can move on to the next item on the agenda.
  3. President leads discussions according to the order specified in the agenda.
    1. Side Note: Pauses may be necessary to take votes or debate issues. The president and secretary will need to keep an eye on timing in order to ensure that all agenda items can be addressed in the time allotted. If you run out of time for an item, you can always come back to it later in the meeting if time allows.
  4. If you need to take a vote, a member of the board will need to “motion” that the group take a vote on the issue. Once a board member motions for a vote, someone will need to Second their motion in order to formally spur a vote.  In order for a binding decision to be made, you will need what’s called a quorum, or a majority (or super-majority) of total board members (including those not present at the meeting). It probably goes without saying, but the board should not motion for a vote or take a vote if there are not enough members of the board present at that meeting to constitute a quorum. The vote will need to be postponed or taken another way. There are lots of online polling tools available for free. I happen to like Doodle for scheduling, and Survey Monkey for other types of questions. In most cases, members of the organization’s staff are not allowed to vote.

At the end of the meeting, the president calls the meeting to a close, and the secretary lets everyone know when the next meeting will be. Afterward, the secretary also promptly distributes the meeting notes/minutes to all the board members, and follows up to remind everyone about the scheduling for the next meeting.

At a time agreed upon by the board (decide once, and then keep things consistent), the secretary will then remind board members of upcoming meetings and provide them with the agenda for the next meeting so that everyone knows what topics will be discussed.

Established rules and agendas take a lot of stress out of meeting with your board and allow you to get things done and make decisions within a set amount of time.

Role descriptions help your volunteers understand what their responsibilities are, so that you can better distribute tasks and work efficiently towards meeting your organization’s goals.

Have questions about the process of a board meeting? Ping me on Twitter!