Saturday, May 19, 2007

Do-Gooder Burnout: How Do You Beat the Burn?

Last March, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported about a survey by the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network that found:
"Young charity workers cited burnout and low pay as the biggest reasons they might leave nonprofit work. When asked why they would not pursue leadership jobs, they cited concerns about the pressure from board members, grant makers, and heavy work burdens that face executive directors.

'We need to think about ways to make these positions sustainable,' said Mr. Solomon, who presented the results. 'Passion isn't enough to keep people in these roles.'"

How can nonprofit, activist and helping professions prevent and/or heal burnout?

Fried Social Worker Blog recommends reading Banishing Burnout: Six Strategies for Improving Your Relationship with Work and taking their My Relationship with Work Test. The Test evaluates your relationship with work around 6 variables: Workload, Control, Reward, Community, Fairness and Values. According to Fried Social Worker, "The chapters are constructed in such a way that you can specifically define a problem, set goals to address the problem, develop an action strategy and track your progress in meeting your goal."

Intensive Care for the Nurturing Soul blog has 8 ideas for how to avoid "Nurturing Burnout":
1. Prioritize by Your Core Values
2. Put Intensive Self-Care as a Top Priority
3. Practice the 3-D Principle (Do It, Delegate It or Dump It)
4. Learn to Say No
5. Learn to Let Go
6. Avoid Multi-Tasking
7, Slow Down
8. Realize That You Cannot Do Everything and Be Everything to Everyone

The Centre for Emotional Well-Being blog suggests using the Life Balance Journal she created for her book, The Art of Calm. The journal has four categories: diet, recreation, nurturing and relaxation, with lists of activities beneath each category. Each night you check off which stress-reducing activities you did. You can see a close up of one of the journal pages here.

In her article, "Set Limits at Work to Beat Burnout," Washington Post writer Mary Ellen Slayter has an interesting quote from an executive coach, Mike Staver, who says that, "Burnout is an internal issue. There's no real correlation between hours spent doing something and burnout because it isn't just about activity." He suggests that burnout is related to the lack of return for the amount of energy expended. Slayter's three tips are: 1. Limit the stimulation (in particular electronic stuff like email checking and instant messaging), 2. Limit the obligations, and 3. Limit the power mistakes have over you.

Finally, Ken Goldstein of the Nonprofit Consultant Blog calls for a Nonprofit Selfishness Movement, "We all need to set aside certain times and days to do something entirely selfish. . . . A little 'me time' to guiltlessly get away from the stress of constantly being other-focused. Time for our own families, time to take a vacation, and time to recognize our own worth."

Photo Credit: Burn Out by Patrish

1 comment:

  1. Hi Britt:

    Great round-up of tips for avoiding burnout! Thanks so much for quoting me. I appreciate it!

    Intensive Care for the Nurturer's Soul


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