Category Archives: Your Career

EXTRA: 7 Questions: Telecommuting

8-Misconceptions-About-Working-From-Home

Thanks to Daniel Zeevi and DashBurst for this fab graphic.

For this installment of 7 questions, I’m tackling a question that a lot of people seem to have on their minds these days, as costs are rising and quality of life seems to be diminishing. In addition, I know that many of you are young professionals and sometimes juggling home, family and work is a pretty difficult circus act.

Working from home has come under fire a lot in recent years (Marissa Mayer and Yahoo! come to mind), in part because employees are not often held as accountable for their work and productivity. That said, a productive employee is a productive employee, and chances are if they are motivated enough to examine how they can be a better worker, they are motivated enough to make telecommuting work to its greatest advantage.

So without further adieu, the questions:

Read on for the burning questions.

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10 Tips: Surviving Micromanagement

Graph of Autonomy, Dignity, Mutiny

Thanks to thisisindexed.com for this graph. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

I’m not sure if it’s my youth (full disclosure: I’m not really that young) or my personality that adores autonomy and cringes at the concept, and the idea, of micromanagement. In the past seven years, I have been proud to watch the board of our organization grow from a lopsided grassroots board to one who is gradually taking the governance reins and is making great strides.

But as we all know, utopia is a myth, and I have talked to more than one colleague who has at least one person that is making their life relatively sour due to a constant hawkish attention to the tasks that are supposed to be trusted to that person. Sometimes this attention persists, even in light of reassurance from their peers that the aforementioned person is doing the right thing for the organization.

Wouldn’t you love to keep reading? Please do.

Magic Monday: Getting Back on Track After a Break

“Magic Monday” posts help you start the week off right. Monday is a great day to review and regroup; if you set your mind to it, you can make this your best week yet. Thank gosh it’s Monday!

outofofficeemail2Well, I wasn’t on vacation this week (hahaha I wish), but there certainly is a lot of great information out there for people who are trying to get back in the work swing of things after some well-deserved time off. (This advice also works if you’ve been away from something for a while, which is very helpful in my case.) Here are some articles on the topic that may interest you:

And before you decide that getting back to work after a vacation seems like a lot of work, and that next time you might not take a vacation, don’t forget that vacation is good for you:

And a bit of a funny: A slightly sarcastic (and rather candid) away message breaks the mold. (I also got the image for this post from this article.)

Hope the rest of your week is happy trails and sunny skies.

Do you feel more productive after a vacation? Have you worked for a company that has an unlimited vacation policy?

Devil’s Advocate: Give Failure a Hug

You said it, bro.

You said it, bro.

I was reading an interesting article today on Idealist (via Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, hat tip to Ellen!) about embracing failure. I learned from the article that Engineers Without Borders publishes an annual Failure Report about the various things that didn’t work on their project sites and what they learned from those failures.

I sat at my computer for a full minute taking it in. That, I can honestly say, is organizational awesomeness.

Wouldn’t you love to keep reading? Please do.

Happy Anniversary

Should have killed me

Dear Job,

It’s been an exhausting and often rewarding 6 (8? 20?) years. I know we’ve had disagreements, and I’ve gotten mad at you a lot, but here’s to the future and to accomplishing what we hope to accomplish together. I kinda love you, you know.

As ever, Kylie.

So sometime around today is my 6th anniversary at my job. I’d say time flies when you’re having fun, and truth be told, parts of it have been fun. There have also been grueling, discouraging times and growing pains. But I doubt I would trade it for anything.

Wouldn’t you love to keep reading? Please do.

Magic Monday: Stop Multitasking

“Magic Monday” posts help you start the week off right. Monday is a great day to review and regroup; if you set your mind to it, you can make this your best week yet. Thank gosh it’s Monday!

I am the world’s worst multi-tasker. Some days I can’t even walk the 10 feet from my assistant’s office to the time clock without getting distracted. I am very guilty of trying to do too much, in which case everything I am trying to accomplish suffers. Studies have shown that multitasking isn’t worth it for most people. If you have trouble single-tasking, here’s a short video that may help. The difficult part may be focusing on the video without trying to do something else at the same time!

Have any of you largely eliminated multitasking from your work day? Have you noticed a difference?

10 Tips: Dress for Development Success

yellow jacket polka dot skirt

Classy and stylish work outfit. Thanks to thimble be quick for the image. Check out the rest of the outfits on their page (sorry guys, just ladies on this one).

I can remember distinctly the handful of epiphanies that I’ve had in my career that have made a true difference in the way that I do my work and flex my development muscles. At the risk of sounding shallow, one of those was definitely the idea that what you wear, and how you carry yourself, can make you instantly seem more competent and better equipped for success.

People, whether we like it or not, base a lot of their impressions of us on first impressions and appearances. Though it may not actually be the case, donors and colleagues look at a well-put-together development professional as more competent and more talented than their less stylish counterparts. (And yes, I’ve known a lot of super-lazy dandies that don’t fit this description, but, as the proverb says, perception is reality.)

For the arts professionals who read this blog, we’re fortunate in the sense that we have more freedom to assert our personal style in a professional environment than, say, our human services or political counterparts. Our orgs are creative by nature, and creativity is often encouraged amongst staff. Our own employee dress code (which I crafted, not completely disharmoniously, from that of a hair salon), states “All dress will project an image of fashion, professionalism and good taste.” (Today, for example, I am wearing a grey 3/4-sleeve jacket with a white button-down shirt, a long marcasite pendant necklace, and a grey knit muted leopard-print skirt with nude hose and patent snakeskin pumps. Not too over-the-top, but not too conservative either.)

You don’t need to pay a personal stylist or personal shopper to give you advice (though there are many reasonably priced ones out there). Much of what you need to know you can learn from books and websites. All it takes is practice, and a few friends or colleagues that will be honest with you. Enlist their help, and explain what you want to accomplish.

I could write about this topic all day (interview dress, the 10-point system, business casual, etc.), but instead I thought I would offer 10 Tips (and Links) to help you get started on your own professional-dressing odyssey. I’ve tried to provide a mix of guy, girl and unisex tips, but feel free to add your own in the comments section!

Wouldn’t you love to keep reading? Please do.

Getting Your Mojo Back

lucky-mojo-coming-soonNo matter how much you love your job in the nonprofit sector (or any other sector, for that matter), you’re bound to have one of those days/weeks/months that your mama warned you about. From my vantage point, it sometimes feels like development directors carry the weight of a nonprofit on their shoulders like proverbial atlases. No funds = no programs = no service to the community. Oftentimes, that can also = low self-esteem, feelings of guilt, and added stress.

I stopped into the office on Easter Sunday with Art, to feed our resident cat and check on the theater. I sort of sighed inwardly, looking at the empty street and thinking that downtown seems pretty dead when we have nothing going on at the Capitol. On our way there, I had decided that I would take the opportunity to take some progress photos of some work being done in some of our newly-purchased buildings. My mind let out a kind of moan about working on my off hours, not having anyone to delegate photo-taking to, having too much on my plate already, etc. In an attempt to silence the negative voices in my head, I loaded the camera with new batteries, and strolled down front to see how Art was doing in his rounds.

Wouldn’t you love to continue reading? Please do.

10 Tips: Spring Cleaning for the Development Office

Clean all the development things

Thanks, of course, to the founder of this meme feast, Hyperbole and a Half.

I love Spring. Aside from the fact that New York Winters last longer than the other seasons f(or at least it seems that way), Spring gives us an excuse for a fresh start. It also gives us a fab impetus for cleaning up our offices, both literally and figuratively. Here are 10 ideas for Spring Cleaning, Development Style:

  1. Review your donor management software, and eliminate and merge any duplicates that you find.
  2. Freshen up your conventional donor thank-you ideas. Usually send a letter? Send a picture postcard instead, or make a phone call. Make a list of new ideas that you can use to say thank-you.
  3. If you’re fortunate enough to work with a staff, hold a meeting with them to talk about new initiatives for the development department.
  4. Sort and weed out your stacks of fundraising periodicals. Tired of paper pile-ups? Many development publications, including FundRaising Success, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and AFP’s Advancing Philanthropy, are available in digital editions.
  5. Review your donor files and clean out any outdated materials or information that is no longer useful.
  6. Assess what is working and what isn’t with your current systems. Are there training modules you could order from your software providers, or could you lay to rest a “fundraising program” that isn’t cutting the muster and hasn’t been for years? The best systems and events are those that help you reach your goals.
  7. Add a few new decorative items to your office space. Photos of family and friends, pieces of artwork that you like, or motivational quotes are all good additions. If you ask nicely, you might even get permission to paint your office or get a new area rug or office chair.
  8. Take a day to physically clean your space if you don’t do it regularly. Studies have shown that keyboards, desks and phones can be some of the germiest spaces in your office!
  9. How is your filing system working for you? Do you avoid filing items because you dread losing them? An ideal filing system should enable you to file something in less than 30 seconds and retrieve it in less than a minute. There are lots of tips out there for building a great filing system. This tip is time-intensive, but very worth it in the long run.
  10. Spring-clean your self-talk. Feeling discouraged over the grey expanse of winter? Give yourself a pep talk. You’re doing good work for a good cause. Your passion inspires others, and the great part is that you can continue to improve if you choose to!

Do you have any “spring cleaning” development tips?

Magic Monday: Productive Procrastination

No limits to what you can accomplish“Magic Monday” posts help you start the week off right. Monday is a great day to review and regroup; if you set your mind to it, you can make this your best week yet. Thank gosh it’s Monday!

Ugh! In recovering from a road trip this weekend (I slept twelve hours straight once I got home), I owe you two blog posts, one for today and one for yesterday. However, I think one of the best skills that we can do as development professionals is to acknowledge that we messed up, don’t dwell on it, and get right to work making this better again. So I will be bringing you the extra post later this week. In the meantime, it’s Magic Monday!

So I’m back in the saddle today, and looking at my to-do list. Because my mental capacity is a little sub-par, I am inclined to do the easy, no-brainer stuff. (I am a natural “productive procrastinator.”) Once in a while this is great—when it’s the end of a day when you’ve been using your noodle non-stop; when you’ve accomplished a lot but have a short period at the end of the day before you leave the office; or when you legitimately don’t have a lot of brainpower left, maybe just before lunch or after a grueling training.

You can really hobble yourself, though, if you’re using the best part of your day to do menial activities. When your brain is fresh and agile, the most efficient use for it is the knowledge work that moves things forward in a strategic way.

Here’s a great article about this very thing from Next Action Associates. It may help you recognize the difference, and what you can do about it. Enjoy!

Too busy? Maybe you’re procrastinating.