4 Steps to Balance, Energy, & Focus (Beth Kanter)

There’s no better gift than learning from a friend. And what a treat I had recently, learning self-care at work techniques from Beth Kanter, a fellow speaker at the JCamp 180 conference.

We all know how pressured our work lives are. Which makes it imperative to jumpstart Beth’s approach (developed with Aliza Sherman, her co-author of  The Happy Healthy Nonprofit: Strategies for Impact Without Burnout). Here’s Beth’s 4-step ladder to well-being— and doing your best work—year round:

1) Identify what drives you MOST crazy, and tackle it first thing in the morningevery morning.
My graphic designer’s trigger is an overflowing inbox. Mine is a messy desk that will distract me all day long if I leave it that way. For Beth, who works from a home office, it’s the dishes in her sink.

What’s yours? Whatever your crazy-maker is, clear it out of your way first thing.

2) Protect your sleep with a calm bedtime routine. Although it may seem productive to check your email or social channels just one more time before bed, it’s likely to cannibalize a solid night’s sleep. Establish a realistic bedtime routine and stick to it on work and weekend nights.

3) Walk more to reboot your brain. Whether walking is your preferred exercise or not, it’s one that’s always doable. Beth cautions us to avoid the seduction of powering through. She takes a 10-minute walking break (working walking) every hour.

4) Build in some quiet time for reflection during your workday, even if it’s just five minutes. “Sometimes I schedule meetings with myself at work, so my calendar looks full and people leave me alone,” says Jill Biden.

Best way to maintain your well-being for the long run?
Help integrate it into your organization’s culture.

Beth advises that your personal well-being practice will be more sustainable if you do it with others. She is a strong proponent of building an organizational culture of wellbeing within every nonprofit, and shared these steps to success:

  • Ask and support fellow self-care champions to activate a culture of well-being. Beth shared the story of Gina Schmeling who, as a fundraiser at Hazon, jumpstarted a weekly walk. Interest was slow to build, but Gina persisted, tweaking her approach and, bit by bit, she succeeded. Today, a Hazon group takes a regular 20-minute, post-lunch walk to build connection and recharge for the afternoon. Also, Gina brought in her standing desk from home so colleagues could try it (several colleagues loved it, and got or hacked one of their own). How can you champion self-care at your organization?
  • Convince the powers that be of the value of self-care, from fewer absences and sick days to lower healthcare costs and increased employee satisfaction. Bonus: Employees of organizations that prioritize well-being are likely to be compelling ambassadors for the organizational brand.
  • Encourage leaders to model self-care by example.

I’m a believer in the power of building a sector-wide culture of wellbeing to sustain and amplify our impact. Thanks to Beth for sharing this important guidance and leading by example.

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Nancy Schwartz in Staff and Consultants | 0 comments
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