The One Where We Had to Pivot

The one where we pivot featured image
by Ryan Phillips

I love the show “Friends.” I have watched every season at least 10 times. (No, that is not an exaggeration.)

If you’ve ever seen the show, you’re probably aware of the ‘PIVOT!!!’ scene. In case you haven’t, here’s the clip.

2020 felt like this scene. With each passing day, we had to pivot and find new ways to engage alumni and donors. And, as soon as we thought we had it figured out … we had to pivot again! Last year showed us the importance of flexibility and adaptability. That doesn’t mean that the constant change in the early months of the pandemic didn’t exhaust me.

If you dealt with or are dealing with burnout, too, here are some actions that may help:

1. Block out your to-do list.

The exhaustion caused by burnout can lead to a lack of productivity. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, use the block method. Each morning, open your calendar and block out time periods to focus on specific tasks. If others can view your Outlook calendar, mark yourself as busy during those times. Then, turn off email/chat notifications so you can focus on the task at hand.

Using my calendar as my to-do list has been a game-changer. I am more efficient, have a greater sense of control over my days, and have spurred further productivity as I become more intentional with my time.

2. Shift your perspective.

Even if you’re an optimist, burnout can turn you into a cynic. Cynicism isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but allowing negative thoughts to control your work (and personal) life may exacerbate stress and feelings of despair.

Here’s a simple formula to shift your perspective … just kidding. This is waaaayyyy easier said than done, but I’ll share what works for me. When I find myself consumed by negativity, I take a break. This can be going for a quick walk, grabbing some coffee, or focusing on something else. After clearing my head, I am usually able to think more clearly and positively about a frustrating situation.

3. Get a hobby!

Whether you live to work or work to live, it’s important to find something you enjoy doing outside of your 9-to-5! I love hiking and DIY projects around the house (which just so happen to be perfect pandemic activities). Prioritizing time for hobbies on the weekend and after work has helped me establish work-life balance, which is key to avoiding or overcoming burnout.

4. Use your time off.

Sometimes you just need a breather. We may not be traveling much these days, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a day off. A work-free day (that isn’t on a weekend) can help you recharge and make you more productive. I encourage you to go even further with this one: take time off and disconnect from technology. Do it! You will thank yourself later.

5. Show grace to yourself and to your colleagues.

Remind yourself of your worth and take time for self-care. Drink water, eat vegetables, and get outside. Taking my dog on walks has been a great form of self-care during the past year.

Let others know that you care by sharing a few words of encouragement. You know how good it feels when someone compliments you? Make someone else’s day by sending a SIC ‘Em! A little kindness goes a long way!

While we’re still learning to pivot, 2020 taught me that it’s okay if things don’t work out as planned. This doesn’t mean that future pivots will be less difficult, but I now know how to embrace change and keep moving forward. If you’re struggling, I hope these tips can help you move forward, too!