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Posts Tagged ‘motivation’

Lacking in fundraising ideas, especially when you have a lot on your plate is particularly common. But continued stress and anxiety can lead to burnout which makes coming up with fresh ideas on a regular basis problematic.

So, how can you tell you are at risk of burnout?

The smallest things can annoy you

Do you notice you have a short fuse? Is your nonprofit team rubbing you up the wrong way? Then you might well be on the way to suffering from burnout. There are annoyances, and there are annoyances, but if even the smallest of issues is causing a lot of frustration, it is time to take a step back. If not rectified, a serious argument over literally nothing will ensue. Go for a walk, take a nap or even schedule some leave before this little problem generates into a huge one.

You are tired all day every day

If you are feeling tired, all day, every day then you could be facings signs of burnout. Exhaustion is a symptom which can often accompany anxiety, and it can all add up to the fact that you need complete rest and a break from work. Take care of yourself, sleep well, eat healthily and exercise regularly. Caring for yourself or even asking for help will go a long way to aiding your recovery. If exhaustion continues, you may find that one day you can barely get out of bed at all.

Failure to concentrate on the task at hand

When you are overworked and overly emotional, it can negatively affect your concentration in the office. You may find you are more forgetful than usual or you just are unable to focus on the task in front of you. Make sure you take your lunch breaks and stand up and stretch every hour. Movement can help you clear your mind, especially when you have been sitting down for an extended period. Even a 20-minute walk can improve your ability to concentrate.

You are consistently putting in long hours

There are times when you may find that longer hours are necessary and that’s okay. But if you find you are continuously putting in the long hours, then you will soon find yourself overworked and very tired. While you may use up some of your time on the weekend to plan strategies or research donors, doing it often and on a regular basis can take a toll on your overall well-being. Take a break when you can and learn to say no more often. Working overtime will just make you feel more tired and have a negative effect on your productivity in the long-term.

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We all have bad days – it’s part and parcel of business. But when they happen, they can be extremely frustrating.

Stay Positive

The first thing you must do is to try to keep your positive attitude for as long as possible. It is easier to dwell on the negative and even begin to feel sorry for yourself, but that can seriously zap your creativity. Focus on the positive side every chance you get. Consider what has gone right and what you have managed to accomplish to date.

Be Grateful

Focus on things which are going well. You might have lost a major sponsor, or something didn’t go as well as planned, but that doesn’t mean it is the end of the world. If you are really struggling, then write your gratitude points down to remind yourself of the great things that are happening in your life.

Make Plans

While you might not be able to fix the problem immediately, do something today to remedy the situation. Even taking little steps such as making notes to help you work toward rectifying what went wrong can have a huge difference on your attitude. You can change the situation – take a few deep breaths and move forward.

Be Realistic

While erring on the side of positivity is your aim, keep your feet firmly on the ground. Having unreal expectations can only cause you more unhappiness in the future. Rewrite your narrative, so you gain some control back in your day.

Learn From It

Once you have managed to put it all behind you, then you need to reflect on it. Learn from the mistakes that were made by your organisation and take solid steps so it does not happen again in the future. Understanding the missteps will help you stay on track and achieve your goals.

Your attitude will determine how long it will take you to bounce back from the situation. A smile, a positive attitude and small goals will help you see that you can overcome the hurdle and show the world you mean business.

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We see it time and time again. Costly PR campaigns are created and fail to gain an emotional connection with their viewers.

If you want to increase your donor funds and gain more supporters, it is imperative you tell a story that connects with your readers. Simple facts, while interesting, are just not good enough for today’s modern donors.

It doesn’t matter which way you turn; you will be undoubtedly bombarded with marketing. Magazine ads, newspaper ads, billboards, bus station advertising, television advertising, radio advertising – all of these ads are fighting for your attention. Which campaigns are you likely to remember? The one that tells a story – the one that has something to say – the one that isn’t trying to sell you a product but rather an experience.

Using storytelling to represent your brand allows your audience to see behind the scenes. It takes them past the desks of the marketers and into the lives of the volunteers making a real difference in society. You can be more than just a name or a brand – you can show your human side to draw them in and elicit an emotion. This is a wonderful way to gain customer loyalty, especially in the long term. Your audience is after an authentic story that resonates with them – they want to be part of an organisation that really makes a difference.

As you define your brand through clever storytelling, you can also give it a personality. This personality should, of course, be representative of your overall mission and values. It is through your storytelling that you can develop and build on a relationship with your target audience. Those that feel a bond with your brand will not only give; they will in all likelihood be wonderful advocates for your NFP and share your information with friends and family.

Stories also stick in our memories the most. Remember all those fairy tales and nursery rhymes with moral messages at the end? Of course you do – stories stay with us, over and above everything else.

So go out there and tell your story. Creativity above everything else is a must in your next PR or marketing campaign. The power of words can be truly magical.

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pexels-photo-261577Working or volunteering at an NFP can be a time-consuming task. It can feel like there are not enough hours in the day to get through the to-do list, let alone come up with creative ideas for fundraising activities. So what can you do to make the most of your volunteer hours?

Create a workable system

You will need to come up with a system so you can use the time you have to the best of your advantage. Organise everything so you can find it quickly; make lists, create folders, manage a diary – whatever works for your particular job or project. The better organised you are, the easier it will be to manage your time effectively.

Stop procrastinating

Often when things get busy, it is easy to spend time worrying about the mountain of paperwork or the number of items on the to-do list. The trick is to tackle them one at a time. Cross an item off the list and move on to the next one. Don’t spend your energy worrying about things – just do what needs to be done when you have the time.

Work from home where necessary

Sometimes working from home is in your best interests when you have a long or complex task to do. It can mean you can work on it in your own time without interruption, reporting back to the office as necessary. It may not work for all projects, but it could help when you are time limited and could save on much travel time between locations.

Break projects down into mini-tasks

If you are overseeing a big project, then it is often easier to bring things down into workable chunks. Plan your day so you can work on one project to completion. Then move onto something else and repeat. This will take much of the stress and overwhelm out of the work day and minimise time wastage from switching from task to task.

Avoid checking emails and messages first thing

Emails and messages can cut into your day. Try to get out of the habit of checking your emails as soon as you arrive at the office. Start working on your to-do list and save the message checking until mid-morning or mid-afternoon when you feel like you need a break. Add an automatic reply which states you will respond within a 24 hour period, so you don’t feel rushed to answer immediately.

Give yourself a break

You are only human, and you cannot do it all TODAY. Burnout will be no good for you or the NFP you are volunteering for. Do what you can, when you can and be happy with that. And if the NFP is struggling to get through the tasks set, then it may be time for them to look for an extra pair of hands to help you out. While challenging work is good for the soul, self-sacrifice will do you no good at all.

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active-19413_640Sitting at a desk all day is known to be a contributor to poor health. From bad ergonomics, or bad posture, being sedentary, to snacking on unhealthy foods, there are a number of factors that impact upon your health and wellbeing.

Some of the results of this are headaches, and other body aches and pains, poor fitness and lack of strength, and overweight which can lead to obesity and a range of other associated health issues. It can also make you cranky, and not feel like doing much.

So what three things can you do to stay healthy at work?

  1. Move it!

Getting up from your desk is a must but whilst it gives you 30 seconds of possible stretch time, it really doesn’t do much. Use the opportunity to go for a quick walk; around the office, around the block, or up and down a flight of stairs.

Make your lunch break the time you get in a good 20 minutes walk, more if you can. Take in some runners, put them on, and go.

Use stairs if the opportunity is there for you. Whether this means avoiding the lift entirely, or getting off a floor or three before or after, is up to you. Walk up escalators, and if you catch public transport in, walk to the train station or bus stop that is further away.

You can do this morning and afternoon.

The point is, take every opportunity you can to move it!

  1. Watch the snacks

Snacks can be a real killer, in more ways than one. Whilst we often remember to have lunch, we forget that our body’s need to be refuelled a little more often.

Take a handful of nuts, and a small container filled with berries, grapes and other small fruits. These are easy to eat whilst you sit at your desk, are full of nutrients, and low in those things that make you feel tired and hungry.

If you’re smart about it, you’ll have your snack box located in a place you have to walk to to get to. This serves two purposes; you’ll only get up to snack if you’re really hungry, and if you are, you have to actually get up and move!

  1. Drink up

Or better still, remain hydrated. Where we fall down in being healthy at work is that we don’t drink enough water.

As a result, we become tired, so we resort to caffeine and/or high sugar snacks to wake us up. Caffeine, and foods high in sugar and salt leave us feeling more tired and the cycle continues.

Have a water bottle on your desk, and make sure you drink it before lunch. Refill it before your lunchtime walk, and make sure you rehydrate during and immediately after. You should also manage a third bottle between lunch and the end of the day.

A bottle that holds 500ml will be fine, and it’s a nice way to ease you into drinking water and getting into a healthy habit.

Most importantly, it’s necessary to ease yourself into it. Start with a walk once each week, and slowly build it up to 3 or four times per week. Focus and be conscious of how much you’re sitting, and when you have opportunities to walk.  All of these healthy habits will require you to think about them before they’ll become habits for you.

Once they do, you’ll become aware of the benefits. So will your colleagues.

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‘Tis the season to be jolly” and take a break, wind down and refresh.

It can be a struggle to refocus once you return to work for obvious reasons. Sitting at a desk for 8 hours isn’t half as much fun as laying in the sun with a good book, or watching DVDs in your pyjamas. But getting your groove back is a necessity, and there are a few tips to help with the transition from beach to office.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain

That first morning you wake to the alarm is going to be hard, so try not to be tempted to stay in bed too long and go into work at the last minute. Some time alone to regroup, check voice messages, open any mail and start on the inbox, before the rest of the team arrives, will help you feel organised and in control. Your first week back can be hectic, so this isn’t the week to schedule important meetings or commence big projects. Try to catch up on tasks left over from before your break and leave the hard stuff until next week.

Share your holiday stories with your co-workers and reconnect before you return to the business of goals and targets. How often do we hear people say they felt like they never relaxed and that the holiday is a distant memory within days of returning. Relish the memories of the sun, or the snow, depending how you spent the holidays, so you can knuckle down and work towards the next adventure!

Get back into a routine, or if you don’t have one, take the opportunity to create new habits. If you feel fresher in the morning, this might be the ideal time to work on new projects, make sales calls or tackle the jobs where you need extra concentration. Afternoons might be best used for administrative tasks that require less creativity. While you are playing catch up, it can be tempting to push hard, not take breaks and stay back late. Make sure you eat lunch every day, preferably at the same time, and leave on time if you can. Organisation and a fresh focus will be your friend.

Touch base with your co-workers on any joint projects, and see what work is outstanding or requires a higher priority. Getting your bearings will help you identify where to start and what direction you need to focus your energy, which is just the boost you need.

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe

Simple pleasures will help you make the holiday feeling last, especially on your first day back. Pick up a coffee from your favourite café on the way into work, or pack yourself a special lunch. Returning to work doesn’t have to happen with a thud.

If you over-indulged over the break, as we often do, getting active, taking a walk before work or even at lunch, or hitting the gym to start the day will help restart and re-energise your mind as well as your body.

Returning to work after a break is inevitable, so you might as well embrace it and enjoy the fresh start. Every extra day is one day closer to your next break so why not start planning now. We work to live not live to work!

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Oh, the drudgery of the office!

Whether it’s in your own home, a corner at the back of the workshop, or some high-rise corporate affair, there’s really no need to be dragged down by the thought of heading in there on a daily basis. Although there are standards about what an office should look like (many of which are in our own heads), who says you have to stick with the norm?

poor-mans-ipadYou could collect some quirky desk toppers or ornaments that just clutter up the desktop, however, it’s probably better to add a bit of personality with some useful items. Things that put a smile on your face, add a bit of fun, and that you can actually use.

There is, for example, always a need to take and keep notes, and a Poor Man’s iPad will have you looking, well…organised. You also don’t need to worry about dropping and damaging it, or the expense of replacing a cracked screen.

If you need reminder notes, a Post It Notes Roller may be more your thing. You can stick notes to walls, doors, desktops and colleague’s foreheads. Roll your notes out, making it as long as you need, then scribble and leave your notes where you can look at them again and again.

You may have promised yourself that you’ll take your lunch to work every day (and you may even have a note about it), but it’s too hard. Or it was…before the R2-D2 Bento Lunch Box! It’s far more fun than the ubiquitous humorous coffee mug. It will make you want to take your lunch every day, and brighten your mood for the afternoon.

office-nap-pillowOnce you’re done with your notes, your lunch, those mounds of paperwork, or the myriad items cluttering up your desk, you could trash them. Or you may prefer to send it to another universe entirely. A Tardis Trash Can will dispose of your rubbish in a somewhat satisfying manner. It also looks totally cool beside your desk.

If you’re all worn out from your long days, or simply bored during the a meeting, you may need an Office Nap Pillow to see you through ‘til home time. Cleverly disguised as a ring binder, you may even get away with a little shut-eye in between meetings.

There is always a time and a place for fun at the office, but quirky items that are practical as well, that just takes you into a whole other level of workplace enjoyment.

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