Work in the nonprofit sector can be really difficult. There are so many people, passionate about what they’re doing, with different ideas about the right way to move forward towards reaching the organization’s goals. The environment is rampant with opportunities for misunderstandings and development of mistrust. It can be really overwhelming. If you’re feeling like you’re in that place, please know that you’re not alone. Other people (including me) have walked down that road before. You can get through it.

Over the past week, I’ve had conversations with four different people who had reached a place of overwhelm related to a long list of things to get done, internal pressure that made them feel like they needed to get everything done that anyone had asked them to do, and a feeling that they couldn’t bring in anyone to help.

This week, give yourself permission to take some time (even if it’s just one hour you can scrape out of your week) to take a step back and look at the big picture. Write out a list of everything that needs to get done, then rank each item in terms of priority (i.e. A for things that are both urgent and important, B for things that are important but not necessarily urgent, C for things that seem urgent but aren’t that important and D for things that are neither important nor urgent). Once you have a prioritized list to work from, it becomes easier to plan your week.

With this roadmap to work from, you’ll probably find that you’re more productive and better able to assess potential interruptions that come from other areas. And one of my favorite lines to suggest that people use when your boss (or board) comes to you with a new project: “Which of these projects should I put on hold so that I can finish this new project?”

It’s easy to get overwhelmed, overworked and burnt out when we’re so passionate about the work we do. But it’s also important to remember that when we’re burnt out, we’re really not as effective as we could be. We owe it to ourselves – and to our clients – to take care of ourselves.

This was the opening of my e-newsletter this morning. It seems to have really hit a chord with my readers, so thought I'd share it here as well. Hoping that it brings you a little hope.