June 2021: Post-Covid Sustainability, Frantic Schedules & Waltzes

Post-Covid Sustainability, Frantic Schedules & Waltzes

When I was much younger, I attended a formal wedding and waltzed with a guy who was an amazing dancer.  We didn’t just do the “ONE, two, three” waltz; we used the whole dance floor with circles that I had only seen in movies.  I did my best to keep up, but I finally had to ask to slow down because I was dizzy.  He then confessed, “I don’t know how to slow down.”

I think that describes where we are now.  We went from working really hard pre-Covid into a higher gear, and it hasn’t slowed down as we head into whatever a post-Covid (we hope) world brings.  I’ve noticed that I can send an email anytime between 6 am and 11 pm and get a quick response. I move almost seamlessly from one video conference to another and am happy about the efficiency.  During my drive to an in-person meeting last week, I thought about all the things I could have been working on if I hadn’t had to be in the car. Anything that requires a block of time to complete (like this short article) has to be done on the weekend.  I don’t think I’m alone.

This approach isn’t sustainable – or at least it shouldn’t be if we want to lead balanced lives with family, community and avocations.  Over the summer, I recommend that we all be more intentional about when and how much we work, including thinking through the impact that our actions have on others.  I suggest the following as steps that can slow down our dizzying pace:

  1. “Send Later.” Think about whether and when you should send an email. If it’s convenient for you to write an email in the evening or over the weekend, does the recipient need to receive it right then?  At least in Outlook, there is an option to “send later;” you can write the email and schedule it to be sent the next morning or on Monday.
  2. “Reply All.” Or not. There are times when it is appropriate to “Reply All” and times that it just clutters the recipients’ in boxes.  Take a moment to think about which will save time for those on the receiving end.
  3. If you know that a colleague, client or customer is on vacation, consider using the “send later” option to avoid interrupting their vacation.  Some people can put emails aside; some of us can’t.  I am looking forward to a family vacation this year but know that I will be compelled to fight the email “whack a mole” battle.
  4. Vacations, part 2. If you will be unable to respond to emails for more than a day, use the “Out of Office Notification” so senders will have a sense of when they will hear back from you.
  5. Buffer zones. Block off three half days per week or whatever is appropriate for your work load.  These are for the times you need extended concentration or for the unscheduled urgent requests that are bound to occur.
  6. Non-work passion. Find something that you love almost as much as your family and your work, then schedule it and give it priority as though it were a business meeting.

I hope you love your work as much as I love mine.  If so, we’re in this for the long haul, and we need to help each other find balance and a sustainable pace.  Have a great summer!

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Katherine Whitney, Warren Whitney’s cofounder and copartner, works closely with nonprofit organizations in Board governance, strategic planning, organizational development, and Executive Director/CEO searches. Warren Whitney is grateful for the opportunity to support you and your organization. If you would like to connect with Katherine to learn more about her practice, please call her at 804.977.6688 or email Katherine Whitney at kwhitney@warrenwhitney.com .

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