Nonprofit AF: 21 tips to make getting back to work this week more bearable - Generocity Philly


Jan. 4, 2021 8:00 am

Nonprofit AF: 21 tips to make getting back to work this week more bearable

"Seriously, can we all just agree to turn off our cameras? No one is going to look good this week," says Vu Le in an amusing first column of the new year.

#15: Declare email bankruptcy. Let’s face it, our email inboxes are hopeless.

(Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash)

This guest post by Vu Le was originally published at Nonprofit AF. Subscribe to it here.
Happy New Year, everyone! I know this week is rough. We’re back at work, with the thousands of emails, to-do items, and a whole bunch of virtual meetings lined up with people who are probably just as grumpy. I feel like crap, you feel like crap, we all feel like crap. Except for Ryan, who is always so chipper, God I hate that guy.

Anyway, it’s 2021, so I have compiled 21 tips that are scientifically proven to help you feel better and make this week just a little bit more bearable. Choose the stuff that works for you, ignore everything else:

  1. Accept how you are feeling. Whatever you are feeling currently is valid, so don’t try to fight it. The drudgery and dread at your emails, embrace it. Let the bitterness of meetings and reports swell. Feel it coursing in your veins. Good, good, let the hate flow through you!
  2. Look at the items on your to-do list. Now — and hear me out because this may sound a little unusual — put the list aside and watch something on Netflix.
  3. Be conscious of how you are breathing. It is amazing how little we pay attention to our breathing. It’s like we expect our bodies to just do this automatically. Well, that’s just a thoughtless, mindless way to live. Make sure you’re aware of every single breath you take from now on.
  4. Use a weighted blanket. If you have a weighted blanket, it can be a great tool to use this week, especially if you fold it into a cube, place your laptop on it, and re-watch Coco.
  5. List out stuff you’re grateful for. It’s important to remind ourselves regularly of our blessings. Make a list of five things you’re grateful for. That feels great, right? That’s a lot of emotional progress. Go ahead and take the rest of the day off from work.
  6. Get ordained by Universal Life Church so you can marry people. It only takes a minute, and it will give you a sense of confidence to know that in an emergency, you will be able to perform the legally binding ceremony to help people get married. This sense of confidence will allow you to get through this week, trust me.
  7. Smile. Studies show that if you smile, even if you don’t feel like it, it tricks your brain into releasing chemicals that decrease your thoughts of strangling Ryan the next time you run into him once everyone is vaccinated.
  8. Turn off your camera. Seriously, can we all just agree to turn off our cameras? No one is going to look good this week.
  9. Remember that January 20th is only a couple of weeks away. That’s when, uh, Mars will be in Taurus, which is a good sign for all of us, if you follow astrology.
  10. Ask a colleague to be your stress buddy. This is someone you can text or call when you are really stressed out this week. Your stress buddy’s job is to text back pictures of cute baby animals. If you are somebody’s stress buddy, spend some time now curating pictures of cute baby animals. And FFS, make sure you are aware of any animals your stress buddy may have a phobia of, like cute baby spiders.
  11. Become independently wealthy. This one is pretty self-explanatory.
  12. Take a short walk. To your car. Drive to another state. Assume a new identity as a brooding, mysterious vigilante crime fighter. Fall in love with a local but make sure they never know about your dangerous night-time hobby. You’re only doing that to protect them. And they won’t understand. Nobody understands!
  13. Divert the topic when people talk about their resolutions. People going on and on about their resolutions during icebreakers are the worst, am I right? All that self-improvement, so elitist. Whenever it comes up in a virtual meeting, just say “I don’t believe in new year’s resolutions. They are an oppressive tool of the patriarchy.” Then just stare directly at your webcam.
  14. Do some moderate exercise. You don’t need any special equipment. Just do some pushups, sit-ups, crunches, yoga poses, or whatever for 30 minutes. After 3 minutes, ask yourself if you would rather answer some emails now or if you would rather finish the rest of the 30 minutes of exercise. Yeah, I thought so.
  15. Declare email bankruptcy. Let’s face it, our email inboxes are hopeless. Send out a message to all your contacts saying that you have declared email bankruptcy and ask them to re-send you any message that’s important. Then delete all your emails and bask in the sweet, sweet silence.
  16. Listen to your voicemails. Wow, these are really old messages. You have not checked your voicemail for months, huh? And did anything of consequence happen? No? Exactly. You can keep ignoring your voicemails for the rest of 2021.
  17. Stare at a house plant. Look at that beautiful, graceful house plant. Follow the curve of its stem, the silhouette of its branches. Mist it with some cool water and watch the droplets slowly coalesce on its full, shiny leaves pulsing with life.
  18. Keep things in perspective. Remember that in five billion years or so, the sun will become a red giant, swallow the inner planets, and become a white dwarf star, ending all life on Earth. With that perspective, is it really important for you to de-dupe your database now, or can it wait a few days?
  19. Cuss. Studies show that when you use profanities, it actually decreases the pain you feel (or increases your tolerance of it). This week is painful, so feel free to cuss up a storm. But why limit yourself to modern swear words. Here are some old-fashioned ones you can use, you sarding muckspouts.
  20. Go outside and shake your fist at the sky, screaming “You think you can break me?! Come at me! Go ahead, give me everything you got! You never held back before!” Then poetically crumble onto the ground, weeping.

If none of those work, here’s Tip 21: Remember that you matter and your work does too. As Leon Brown once said, “Never underestimate the valuable and important difference you make in every life you touch, for the impact you make today has a powerful rippling effect on every tomorrow.”

From our Partners

That’s what you do. That’s what we do. And I know we had a rough year, and there is so much work this year. But everything you do creates ripples, some that you may never be able to see, and I am thankful for you. It’s going to be a kick-ass 2021!


BIPOC fundraisers, join Community-Centric Fundraising on Thursday, Jan 14 at 2 p.m. PT for conversation and camaraderie. We’ll explore our relationship with philanthropy, share personal stories, and imagine a world where communities are centered. This will be the first of a three-part monthly series. Register here. The series is for Black, Indigenous, and people of color, so thanks white allies for understanding.


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