How to Avoid the #1 Obstacle for
Activity Directors: Overwhelm
With all the tasks that activity professionals have, it's no wonder that most feel overwhelmed. Here are a few ideas to help you get rid of overwhelm – once and for all:
- Add Systems...But Only One Per Month. Pick one area of your Activity Department that needs improving (e.g., volunteers) and work on creating systems in that one area for the month. By making that area your only focus for creating new systems, you'll build momentum as you see yourself quickly checking things off your to-do list that relate to that area. In addition, by giving yourself a whole month to complete the new systems, you can spread out the tasks so that you only have to spend a 20 or 30-minute block of time each day for a given task (e.g., create a volunteer log-in book, contact area high schools to recruit volunteers, send follow-up cards to former volunteers, etc.). See our article How to Take the Not Just Bingo 30-Day Challenge.
- Use Themed Days. Another way to keep you from getting overwhelmed is by organizing your days so that you only do certain activities on certain days. For example, you can make Tuesdays your day for volunteer recruitment (e.g., contacting churches and schools, creating volunteer flyers, etc.), you can make Thursdays your day for one-on-one visits, and you can make Fridays your day to process your invoices. By having a theme for each day, you can easily delegate tasks to the proper day instead of having to deal with it right away (i.e., if an entertainer hands you an invoice on Wednesday, tell him it will be processed on Friday - your day for doing it).
- Create a Blueprint for Your Activities. If you feel overwhelmed with trying to come up with different activities, be sure to spend the time to create a blueprint of what you want in your activity program. For example, first make a list of the types of activities that you need (or that your Administrator wants to see) in your activity program. Second, figure out the blocks of time that you want to provide activities throughout the day (e.g., 10am, 11am, 1:30pm, 3pm, 4pm, 6pm). Finally, determine the right times of day to have the types of activities that you want (e.g., cognitive activities before lunch or musical and social activities during late afternoon). And that's it! You now have your blueprint. Now, you can easily insert the individual activities that fit your blueprint (e.g., for your musical time slot in the late afternoon, you can schedule Name That Tune on Monday, Music Appreciation on Tuesday, Band Class on Wednesday, Choir Practice on Thursday, and Karaoke Party on Friday).
- Have a Goal of "Two for the Day". Before you step through the door of your office in the morning, make a commitment to yourself that you will not leave work that day until you take care of two items (whatever they may be). In other words, you need to say to yourself "I'm not leaving work this evening until I finish these two things:..." By holding yourself accountable, you can guarantee yourself that you will complete those two tasks, even when you have lots of distractions throughout the day. Not sure that this will work for you? Then you need to...
- Front-Load Your Day. By making sure to tackle your most important tasks first (like the two things that you have to do before you leave for the day), you are more likely to accomplish them without all the distractions that tend to build up throughout the day. Furthermore, most activity departments tend to be much quieter and less chaotic in the morning, giving you time to tackle your to-do list!