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.
If you work for a nonprofit, dealing with volunteers—recruiting, keeping, and appreciating them—are probably a big part of your life. Volunteers make big things happen for many of us, and some of our best stories come from the experiences, actions and antics of our “donors of time.”
Relatedly, I often think about whether nonprofit professionals volunteer, and if they don’t, why they don’t. I used to volunteer all the time at my organization; in fact, I started here as a volunteer before I was a staff person. Sometimes volunteers make the best employees because of their passion for the cause. But over time, my devotion and desire to do good led me to volunteer for my organization outside of work hours. As you can imagine, this rapidly led to burnout. Sometimes, if the burnout is too profound, good people can be lost, be they volunteers or staff, and that doesn’t serve anyone well.
As professionals, we know full well the benefits of volunteering. We tout them everyday to others, and use them to make our cases for community involvement to our funders. When presented with volunteer opportunities of our own, however, many of us don’t take them. “I am already doing good things for the world at my job,” you may say, or “I don’t want there to be a conflict of interest between my job and my volunteer work.” I am as busy as the next guy; even I made those excuses at one point.
“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” -Gustav Flaubert
Who has two thumbs and is so not a morning person? That would be me. I am even worse in the wintertime; I think one of my parents must have been a grizzly bear. Most people, however, think that I am generally pretty well put together and pretty “with it” at work. Routines are the secret to my success, both in development and in life.
There was a time when I thought routines would mess with my creativity. Artistic, imaginative people don’t need routines, I told myself. Routines are for stuffy corporate types with nannies and personal assistants. I am super, and amazing, and should have no problem being über competent. Then, surprise surprise, real life happened. Let’s just say I’ve seen the light and hope to never stray again.
I would assert that the first and most important routine you can put in place is an evening routine, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a night owl. Though it sounds counter-intuitive, a good evening routine helps take the pressure off your mornings, so that you can arrive at work on time, relaxed, and ready to be a superhero for your organization.