Be Your Best Valentine: 2 Ways to Put YOU First

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In the midst of a harsh winter, you’re trying to stay motivated to accomplish your New Year’s goals but the weather is beginning to impact your energy and outlook. Most of all, working in the nonprofit sector means you spend a lot of time caring for others. In this line of work, it can be hard to remember to take care of you.

In the midst of a harsh winter, you’re trying to stay motivated to accomplish your New Year’s goals but the weather is beginning to impact your energy and outlook. Most of all, working in the nonprofit sector means you spend a lot of time caring for others. In this line of work, it can be hard to remember to take care of you.

Here are two ways to ensure you’re putting your needs first:

1. Audit Your Time

Work takes up a majority of everyone’s day, but how else are you spending your time? Make a pie chart of how you’re spending your hours on an average day. What does it include? Work, TV, gym, workshops, volunteer work, classes, housework? Look at your chart and ask yourself: what piece do you wish was bigger, or is there a piece missing entirely? Decide what your priority activities are and make time for those first. Are there classes you want to take? Research options and sign up. Want to spend more time with family and friends? Schedule a regular dinner/game night. Need more space to recharge? Try replacing an hour before bed with reading (and read the old-fashioned way, so you don’t throw your sleep cycle off from the effects of your device’s blue light).

Check out this video that was inspired by Stephen Covey’s (author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) concept about making room for our “big rocks” first, and letting life’s little inconveniences and “have to do’s” fall between our priorities instead of becoming the priorities. Be sure you are making time for activities that leave you feeling fulfilled!

2. Set Boundaries

Check out this great Idealist article, Working for social change? Make self-care a priority by Pamela Dicent, that reminds us how important work-life boundaries are when it comes to self-care and productivity. Think about what boundaries make the most sense for you, but here are a few to get you started:

1. Don’t check your email after work hours (we understand there are sometimes special circumstances)

2. Be aware of compassion fatigue, a common display of stress in nonprofit work where we spend much of our time caring for others. Learning more about the symptoms, how they affect you, and how you can be proactive is an important self-care skill!

3. Use your time: Use your vacation, personal, sick days, etc. It’s your time and you should think of these days as part of your salary and benefits. Don’t forget that your lunch hour (or whatever your organization calls it) belongs to you, too. Use it however you need to - eating, taking a walk, a quick workout, catching up with co-workers, making personal calls.

“I always use my vacation time. It’s like hitting pause on the long days/weeks and I’ve found, really important to prevent burnout...ask yourself, “Can I truly continue to be productive and energetic at work without taking a significant break?...The people and communities who benefit from your work need you to take care of yourself first and be at the top of your game before you can focus on supporting them,” says Dicent.

 

What are you “big rocks” and how do you make sure they’re getting the attention they deserve?

 


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