Through the Nonprofit Communications Director Mentoring Program, I talk to a lot of communications directors who feel overwhelmed. I thought it might be helpful to you for me to share some of the questions I ask when I am coaching them.

The first question I usually ask is how empowered they feel to make choices about their workload. This is a big question that on its own can unravel lots of details about control, supervision, internal communications, boundaries, and support or lack thereof.

If they do have at least some control over their workloads (and most do), then I ask questions such as

  • Are you a perfectionist?
  • What would good enough look like?
  • What do you feel you are supposed to be doing?
  • How do you decide what to work on each day?

Then I often say something like this: You can be mediocre at many things, or good at a handful, or great at just a few. Each of these is a legitimate strategic choice. Sometimes, you have to do all the things. You just won’t do them very well, unless you are willing to burn yourself out in the process. We talk about where they want to fall on that spectrum.

Depending on how those conversations go, then we start to get into communications-related questions about different ways to prioritize, including by targeted community, messaging/programs, or communications channels.

By the end of the conversation, most people have sense for the next steps to get a grip on the workload. It won’t happen overnight, but you can manage the overwhelm, and get closer to CALM not BUSY.