Nonprofit professionals work hard to push their organization’s missions forward, whether that’s through hosting events or creating marketing materials. However, because of all the hard work they do, they’re at higher risk of developing burnout at their jobs. That’s where self-care comes in—by taking care of your needs, you’ll be able to stay engaged and do right by your beneficiaries.
This guide includes self-care tips nonprofit leaders can use to create a more positive nonprofit working experience for their employees. We’ll also include tips from the for-profit world to help mitigate burnout. Let’s get started!
1. Manage work time effectively.
For many nonprofit employees, working to share your nonprofit’s mission requires you to put on many hats and take on a variety of difficult tasks. While at work, take care of yourself by managing your time effectively. By doing so, you’ll complete tasks efficiently and mitigate stressful situations.
To manage your time effectively, incorporate the following suggestions into your work routine:
- Set realistic goals and deadlines. Regardless of whether you work at a massage business or an animal nonprofit, deadlines are an inescapable part of managing your time. To prevent burnout, be realistic with your goals. Overpromising is a surefire path to increased stress, so evaluate your task load and be practical about when each one will be finished.
- Set daily priorities. When you have many tasks on your plate, juggling them can be difficult. Set daily priorities to ensure that you get your work done. Ask yourself, which of my tasks is the most urgent? Which is the most mission-critical? Use the answers to these questions as a jumping-off point for your daily priority list.
- Choose a time management system. Eliminate distractions and stay focused by selecting a time management system. For example, the Pomodoro Technique allows you to stay focused by breaking large tasks into small ones. After you pick a task, you work on it nonstop for 25 minutes. Then, you take a five-minute break. Every four Pomodoro sections, you take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.
- Delegate tasks when possible. Reduce the stress of your workload by delegating tasks to team members. Although it may be tempting to handle everything by yourself, this will easily lead to overwork and burnout. Have faith in your employees’ abilities and passion for your mission and allow them to take over smaller tasks.
In the business world, leaders will choose to invest in business management software to increase employee efficiency and workload. For example, a massage business might purchase a massage therapy software solution to streamline its operations.
As a nonprofit leader, you can still take a leaf out of the business world by investing in nonprofit constituent relationship management (CRM) software. These solutions allow you to track, store, and analyze data related to your supporters and day-to-day operations, helping you reduce work time with automation.
2. Incorporate mindfulness.
Regardless of your time management skills, there will be times when your workload expands. For example, planning a nonprofit event has many steps that can be broken down into hundreds of smaller tasks. In the weeks leading up to the event, you may need to work late to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
In times like these, it’s easy to get caught up in anxiety and stress, which distracts you from performing the task at hand. That’s where mindfulness becomes important—it refers to the ability to refocus your attention on the present, allowing you to stay grounded and focused.
For this self-care tip, implement these mindfulness practices during work:
- Be present. Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to center yourself in the present. Be aware of what’s going on around you and what’s going on within you. When your mind wanders, acknowledge your thoughts and then bring your attention back to your task.
- Work on one task at a time. Keep your focus on a single task at a time to prevent your focus from slipping. This will empower you to do your best work and be more efficient with your time.
- Journal. Keep a time journal of what you achieve in a set block of time. Not only will this give you a sense of accomplishment, but you’ll also be able to identify when you’re most productive and invested in your work. In the future, you can save your difficult tasks for these time blocks.
- Perform breathing exercises. Sometimes, you need a moment to step away from your work. Perform short breathing exercises to center yourself, reach a place of calm, and take care of your mental health. Then, dive back into your work with a more focused mindset.
Not only does being present make you a more effective employee, but it also allows you to identify moments and times when you’re not feeling well. Take care of yourself when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed and take a small step back from your work. Taking a short break can help you refocus and re-energize yourself to continue your workday.
3. Incentivize self-care.
To safeguard your team members against burnout, incentivize self-care at your nonprofit. This means promoting a healthy work-life balance to your employees, allowing them to reduce stress. Not only will this prevent burnout, but it can also make your employees more engaged with their work and more motivated to perform well.
You can incentivize self-care through a variety of methods, including the following:
- Offering a gym membership stipend
- Allowing team members to take days off for mental health
- Providing healthy meal options during the workday
- Implementing remote or hybrid work options
- Making work hours flexible
If you or your team members are experiencing physical stress symptoms such as muscle pain, consider getting a medical massage. MassageBook advises that you research whether your health insurance covers massage therapy, especially if you experience physical stress symptoms alongside the mental. That way, you’ll be able to get the relief you need and be more focused at work.
Bonus tip: Celebrate team wins.
Just as your nonprofit celebrates the generosity of its donors, it should also celebrate the hard work of its team members. Although this isn’t necessarily a self-care tip, it’s still valuable for creating a positive workplace at your organization.
To create a more mindful work environment, nonprofit leaders should place gratitude at the center of their operations. Double the Donation recommends that nonprofit leaders implement a formal employee recognition program at their organization. Some of the rewards from this program might include:
- Team dinners
- Trophies or plaques
- Thank-you cards
- Personalized gifts
A formalized program shows that your organization cares about the well-being and successes of its employees. Plus, celebrating the wins of the team can bring your nonprofit’s employees together and create deeper bonds between them. This will create a more compassionate environment that your team members will be excited to work in.
Self-care is important for employees of all industries, and the nonprofit sector is no exception. With these tips, you’ll be well-equipped to create a meaningful and mindful work experience for yourself, lowering your risk of burnout. Keep in mind that just because you are building a movement around a shared goal or mission, that doesn’t mean that you won’t feel tired or stressed. Be kind to yourself and care for yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually when necessary.