Contributed by Allison Gross, Co-founder
While VOICE was just a concept last year, I agreed to take on a management job with the IDEX Fellowship, knowing that this job would give me more security and a better salary than our startup project.
IDEX in itself is a brand new program, but run by the established Social Enterprise Catalysts, Gray Matters Capital Foundation. Early on, the two projects complemented each other well – they work with the same schools, the program timelines are on opposite schedules, and the two projects were both being overseen by one manager on the GMC teach back in the US.
Even though working these two jobs has often required 80+ hours a week and working through vacations, up until a few weeks back, everything was running pretty smoothly.
As anyone would suspect, this did eventually catch up to me, and a couple weeks back it all came crumbling down.
Extra work being thrown my way in all directions, and too many moving pieces for one person’s brain to keep straight brought my world to a hault!
For IDEX, I was continuing to manage the current cohort as they wrapped up their work while leading the effort to identify 100 placements for next year and all the other details that come along with that. As the only person on the team that went through this process last year, I’m training the new field staff on the spot, and orchestrating thousands of pieces that must come together in the next month to ensure that 100 foreigners can enter the country, have a home to live in, and a social enterprise to work with.
As they traditionally say during the Jewish holiday, Passover, “Dayenu!” (That would have been enough).
But that wasn’t enough, because simultaneously we’re in the pressure cooker with Voice, every day having to make split decisions and alterations in strategy to get the maximum number of girls, while keeping an eye on the budget. Every decision comes back to the budget – and right now we’re having to make tough decisions about hiring, marketing, recruitment, and prioritizing the must haves and the can do withouts.
Its all hands on deck!
I could feel the breakdown coming as more and more requests came to my office door, and I got to the point where I could not bring myself to look at a computer screen, talk to people, or make any important decisions.
I was completely burnt out physically and mentally and needed a day off.
I stayed home, I kept my computer off, I read a book, I pigged out on my favorite comfort foods, and caught up on some of my favorite tv series.
This was a start, but I realized I needed some changes in my daily routine, otherwise I would keep getting burnt out.
I vowed to get back on a healthy eating pattern and make time 3-4 times a week to actually go to the gym; I was more conscientious about going in later to the office and taking a couple hours in the morning to myself on days I knew I had late calls back to the US, instead of spending whirlwind 12-14 hour days in the office. And I made myself switch off the electronics and do something nice for myself on the weekends – whether its a massage (which are ridiculously cheap in India!), a haircut, a minishopping spree, or finding a quiet place to read a book.
Over the last few weeks this has really helped me.
Its a little sad that I have to schedule in “me” time the way I schedule in any other meetings or to-do’s, but in the longrun, I’ve committed intensively to these two organizations, and its best for them if I’m being good to myself, taking breaks, and unwinding.
Mind, Body, and Spirit are all interconnected, and if you find the right balance and take everything one task at a time, you will be capable of accomplishing an extraordinary amount of things. And be in a state of mind where you can feel satisfied with the fact that those things you are doing are meaningful and valuable for the hundreds, thousands, or millions of people they serve.