In 2016, Beth Kanter and Aliza Sherman published a book called The Happy Healthy Nonprofit: Strategies for Impact Without Burnout.
The turnover rate in nonprofit organizations are high because too many passionate and talented staff members burnout and leave. Kanter and Sherman wanted to address this issue by creating resources to help prevent burnout and promote healthy work-life balance.
Church communicators know this problem all too well. Many of us are overworked. Some of us are close to burnout or already there. While there’s a lot to be learned from their book, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on how church staff members can be healthier, too.
Take a Break
In case you haven’t heard, sitting is the new smoking. Sitting for hours a day behind a desk behind a computer is terrible for our health. The solution? Get a standing desk.
If you can’t afford one of the fancy, expensive sit-to-stand desks, get an Oristand, which is an inexpensive, cardboard version. I have one (and I even use it on occasion). It’s a nice change of pace to just sitting at a desk for eight hours straight.
Even if you don’t get a standing desk, you should occasionally take a break to walk around. There are a few great (and free) apps you can get on your computer that will automatically prompt you to take a break—Workrave for Microsoft or Time Out for Apple.
To get even more time on your feet, you might even consider scheduling walking meetings instead of the normal ‘did you book the conference room again?’ meetings.
Take a Vacation
I didn’t know what PTO stood for before I got a full-time job. Now, it’s one of my favorite acronyms. If you get paid vacation as part of your benefit package at work, use it. Why wouldn’t you?
Set realistic expectations while you’re out of the office. Create healthy social media boundaries so you aren’t tweeting from the beach. Set an out of office reminder and don’t check your email until you get back.
A helpful trick is to prolong that auto-reply for a day after you get back—it gives you an extra 24-hours to catch-up on that mountain of email. Or you can take it one step further like this German company that deletes employee emails when their on vacation. This means they come back to an empty inbox and a stress-free environment.
I once had a boss that didn’t eat lunch. She would work through the day without taking a break for food. There might be days when you have to do that—but don’t make it a regular habit. Take the time to eat lunch, because your body needs food to operate.
That doesn’t mean your lunch is a wasted time. A mentor once suggested that I schedule a lunch meeting with a colleague every week. During this meeting, we could talk shop, but the main focus was to get to know the person better.
Because I worked in an office with only about 20 other people, it took me less than five months to have lunch with everyone on staff. It fostered stronger relationships, improved internal communications and impacted my ability to collaborate with my team members.
That’s like killing three birds with one stone. Er, lunch.
Invest in Professional Development
Set aside some budget to go to a conference. In addition to drastically changing the scenery, it allows you to recharge your batteries and network with professionals.
You could even merge these together into the best of both worlds. At my former job, I started a TED Talk Thursday—an optional staff gathering once per month where we watched and discussed a relevant TED Talk. It was easy to organize, but incredibly impactful.
Other Quick Advice
- Remember to keep work and worship separate
- Never forget that what you do is important
- Find community—even if it’s online in a Facebook group
- Surround yourself with good people and don’t be afraid to ask for help
- Don’t try to please everyone and ignore the trolls
- Take time to pray and read scripture daily—it’s the most important thing you can do
- Get hilarious encouragement by reading You’ve Got This: A Pep Talk For Church Communicators by Kelley Hartnett
- The Happy Healthy Nonprofit by Beth Kanter
- 3 Secrets of a Healthy Church Culture
- 6 Ways Communicators Can Impact Church Culture
- 6 Ways to Avoid Church Burnout
What are you doing to take care of yourself personally and professionally?