I don’t know about you, but I need a dang break.
The last few weeks of being quarantined and navigating this COVID-19 landscape have been incredibly draining. I have more work than I can handle, panicked clients who are worried about whether or not their organization will survive this pandemic (and what will it even look like if they do), and many readers and subscribers emailing me with questions.
Right now, it seems that all of us in the nonprofit world are working ourselves to death. We are all trying frantically to do whatever is necessary to keep things running, lay the groundwork for a post-Coronavirus world that still has plenty of arts in it, and trying to show how we are necessary and relevant (and please keep paying us).
I’m tired. Everyone I know is tired.
Nonprofit burnout has been a very real thing for a very long time and I just want to take a moment to pause and say “if we aren’t careful, we will have a mass exodus of amazing people leaving nonprofit arts posts either during or after this crisis”.
Now, I know there’s important work to be done. I’m not going to quit and I doubt you are either. But friends…I’m telling you that we all need to learn how to REST. If we don’t, this breakneck pace is not sustainable and if you think it’s going to let up in a few weeks (or months) when things hopefully re-open, you’re kidding yourself. So learn to take the rest you need NOW.
Here’s what I think the arts nonprofit sector, and all the people in it (staff, artists, and consultants alike) should be doing:
- Build in little 5-10 minute breaks to your day wherever you can. Take a walk. Meditate. Read something for fun (not work). Or just sit.
- Set boundaries. When you’re working from home it’s easy to feel like you’re always “on” and that can become an expectation. Set a cut-off time after which you don’t check email, you don’t take calls, and you don’t do work.
- Make your workspace as appealing and calming as possible. If you’re going to be spending extra time working, try to make it pleasant by surrounding yourself with things that make you happy. Fun artwork, fragrant candles, and good tunes are what keeps me happily in-the-zone in my office.
- Connect digitally with friends and family who can help recharge your batteries a bit and laugh with you.
- If you’re really struggling, you need to communicate that. Tell your boss/supervisor and ask them to help you prioritize what truly needs to get done and what can wait. Most will appreciate that you’re only human and will work with you to help maintain your sanity.
- Make realistic to-do lists for each day of your workweek that take into account hard deadlines. Chunk large tasks down into smaller tasks each day. This way, the things that truly need to get done, get done. And you don’t go crazy trying to fit too much into one day.
Lastly, remember to breathe. Remember you are not alone. Most of us in the arts world are going through variations on the same theme. But if we use this opportunity to take care of ourselves and each other there’s a chance that maybe our industry will be better for it once life re-opens.
Well, I’m off to take a nap. I hope you can do the same, Be excellent to each other, friends.