Nonprofit Leaders:  Craft your own Mission-led Workload that is Perfectly Balanced, Engages Your Strengths and Delivers Impact for the People You Serve

Why put up with way too much on your plate if you don't have to? 

What if you were Mission Accomplished in 40 hours a week or less this week, next week and every week forever?

Ever look at your calendar and see it’s wall-to-wall?  Ever wonder how many of those hours and hours of meetings will make a difference?  Ever feel like working for a nonprofit or public service means donating an additional 10, 15, 20 hours or more each week – time you should be with your family?

Good news – you’re not alone.  And there’s help at hand.  But first let me ask you a few questions to see what, if anything, resonates for you.  Time to keep score:

 Give yourself a point for every time...

1.  New work lands on your plate but you wonder whether it will "move the needle" even if you get it all done.


2.  You make room on your schedule for bureaucratic tasks like performance reviews that not only don't add value but seem like they actually detract from pursuing the mission.


3.  You attend a partnership meeting that doesn't just fail to meet its expectations for collaboration but seems to have no real purpose that anyone can remember, other than to repeat the same, tired aspirations.


4.   You want to delegate to your direct reports but wonder if it's just easier to do it yourself since you're accountable for it and you don't want to have to redo their work right up against deadline.


5. You miss a school play, music recital, sports event or even a parent-teacher conference because you just couldn't get away in time.  Score double points for every time you found out about one of these events after it happened because your family has stopped counting on you to get there.


6.  Your spouse has hinted that you should consider a change in career and your best friend complains that "you just don't seem like you". 

If you scored 3+, Congratulations.

You are committed!  You are willing to extend yourself above and beyond in order to deliver on the mission.  You will do whatever it takes, and you do.  No one can question your passion.  No one can question your commitment.  But yet, you yourself have questions.

We are all in the same boat!

Of course, you know you’re not alone.  Look around and you’ll see that many of our colleagues are in the same boat. 


There’s that funding proposal that you need to submit in less than 24 hours but you’re still waiting for the final budget figures…


As well as the quarterly report deadline but those metrics, well – let’s just say they don’t tell the story in numbers that you’ve been telling yourself or hearing from staff…


And then there’s the coffee with a Board Member that you don’t have time for but it’s already been rescheduled twice…


And, for the third time this week, you’re not eating dinner at home with your family.


I won’t even mention the gym.  

(Whoops.)


In nonprofit and mission-led work, we reinforce each other’s tendency to overload, overcommit and overstretch.  We feel OBLIGATED to do more and more and more.

Our work lives revolve around meetings.  Meetings that plan.  Meetings that budget.  Meetings that review and oversee.  Meetings with partners.  Meetings with funders, with Board members.  And then the training.  And the one to one meetings with staff…so many meetings.  Not to mention the meetings about the meetings!  So little time left over to get “real” work done.

We know our work is all about relationships.  We're in a people-centered field.  It's people-driven, people-connected and people-serving.  And all these relationships between people take time.  I totally get it.  I understand 100%.  Because for much of my career...  

I was exactly the same way.

I've done the long crazy hours with a wall-to-wall schedule.  I missed family events and kids' events and school events, even missed work events to try and catch a break.  I  let my wife down too many times to count (although I think she’s got it written down somewhere).  I tried to do it all until I wore myself ragged and suffered with a total lack of energy and motivation.   I fooled myself into thinking that it was temporary.  If only I could squeeze out a bit more effort, a bit more suck-it-up-and-keep-on-keeping-on then the impact achieved would be totally worth it and plain for all to see.  


So I kept at it.  I was out before anyone woke up and came home after everyone went to bed.  If there was a drop more blood in that stone, I was going to find it and extract it, one way or another.  At weekends I’d emerge, groggy, unshaven and irritable, like some college student after a late night but in my case I wasn’t have any fun at all.  At one point my kids jokingly referred to me as “mom’s friend Kev” who they saw occasionally on Saturday and Sunday mornings.


I don't even remember our vacations.  I was sleeping.

Up and out of the house before anyone else is up.  Not back until everyone is in bed.

Booked solid. All day.  Every day.  Week after week.

Not just tired. Fatigued. Grouchy. Irritable. Bad company.

Then I realized there were Four Horses of the Workload Apocalypse preventing us from having the right things on our plate.  The things that blend competence and challenge and steadily move the work forward at pace toward impact.  Horses one, two and three are:  worthiness, urgency and dependability.  We'll get to number four in a minute.


Worthiness, Urgency and Dependability

  • Worthiness is useless. 
    Think about it – EVERYTHING we can think of doing is worthy.  Every idea that could find its way into our strategies, every tactic to help implement them, every suggested program, every prospective curriculum, workshop, event – they’re all worthy in their own right.  Each and every suggestion is consistent with our mission and vision and helps progress our agenda.  Which is why we dream them up in the first place.  Since “worthiness” is common to every possibility, it’s useless as a criterion to determine what we do.   It's like walking into the supermarket and using "edible" to work out what food to buy, rather than a shopping list.
  • Urgency is a distraction. 
    Once everything is worthy, it seems that the only way to prioritize is URGENCY.  But who decides what’s urgent?  Colleagues seem to have an invisible jug of urgency they can pour on any situation.  The jug is always full, and it’s always right beside them, perched on their desk.  They take their jugs of urgency to meetings, too.  As soon as anyone wonders aloud about next steps, out come the jugs.  “We must!  We must!  And NOW!”  Meanwhile, nothing is coming OFF our plates.
  • Dependability can be a curse. 
    Here’s something else we all know:  you’re the dependable, capable colleague that anyone can come to in a crisis.  And so they do.  You want to keep your office door open, it’s just that you don’t want people to use it EVERY FIVE MINUTES.  If you only had a penny for every time you heard someone say, “Hey, got a minute?”

These three Horses of the Workplace Apocalypse - worthiness, urgency and dependability - ride together to add more and more to your plate.  Worse, they add the WRONG things - the low value, time-sucking tasks and responsibilities that either don't really matter or don't matter enough to crowd out the stuff that you know you should be focusing on.  The stuff that leverages your unique skills and strengths.  The stuff that makes the greatest impact.  The trick isn’t getting everything OFF your plate, it’s controlling what gets ON your plate in the first place.

You Need a Gate-keeper for Your Plate...

You’ve heard of “gate-keeping” – the unenviable task of protecting a valuable commodity inside the gate.  The term comes from medieval times when a knight in not-so-shiny armor stood guard at the drawbridge, protecting the noble family and their treasure inside the castle.  Now we find similar roles at a doctor’s office, where the receptionist doesn’t wear chainmail but sets appointments and lets you know whether you’re welcome there (or not) or whether you’ll be seen quickly (or not). 


Maybe one of your funders has a program manager that protects a development fund with mind-bending jargon and overly complicated application processes.  Then of course there’s the bouncer at the most popular nightclub who makes sure the long line of eager clubbers never gets any shorter.


Instead of gate-keeping, think of “plate-keeping”.  It’s the same idea except you’re guarding the gate that things have to get through to get on your plate – all the tasks, responsibilities, and new projects and initiatives.   

Wouldn't it be great if you had a bouncer protecting your plate?  

Or a knight

Here’s the unvarnished truth.


Only one person can be the bouncer or the knight.  And that person is YOU.  And when you don’t act like a bouncer or a knight, you become the fourth Horse of the Workload Apocalypse.  (I told you we would come back to this!)


"But wait," I hear you say, "I’m actually quite good at time management and function at a high level of productivity." 

I know you do.  You suffer the “Penalty of Efficiency” – when you’re so diligent, competent and dependable that your plate ends up piled much higher than everyone else’s and with a ton of stuff no one else wants to do.

No one wants to be the

Fourth Horse of the Workload Apocalypse

Work-life balance has actually very little to do with time management and productivity.  Those are important, to be sure, but they come into play for the things that are ON your plate.  Stuff that doesn’t get on your plate in the first place doesn’t create any challenges for your time or productivity.


It all comes down to understanding how work gets on your plate in the first place.  And why it stays there.  Why it resists coming off.  And even when you think it’s gone, it grows boomerang wings and returns to whack you right across the back of your head.  And it’s back on your plate too.


It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you’ve got to press on no matter what.  We say to ourselves, “This is supposed to be hard.  We’re addressing deep-seated, systematic social problems, they’re not going to go away if we don’t really stretch ourselves.”


We feel like we have no choice. 


Or worse, if we choose NOT to do something, first we'll feel guilty about it and second it’ll come back and bite us on the bum later.  We won’t hit our targets.  We won’t qualify for that extension grant.  We may have to lay off staff or close down a program completely.  With sad certainty, won’t make the impact we’re trying to make. 

In other words, LOSE-LOSE.

We burnout if we attack the workload like it DESERVES to be attacked,

or we fall short if we don’t go all out.

5 Things You Can Do Right Now

Or you can take back control.  Here are five things you can do RIGHT NOW to reset your work-life balance so you can maximize your impact at work while enjoying time not at work:


  1. 1
    The number one thing to do is recognize and acknowledge that you are enough – but need to be 100% of enough, not 50% of enough by overstretching, making you LESS EFFECTIVE, not MORE. So STOP.  By being your best you, there’s no need to feel guilty.  In fact, if you want to feel guilty, make it about not being your best you!​​​​
  2. 2
    Number two is being crystal clear about what your best you is trying to achieve.  What are your own mission and vision statements?  What’s the impact you’re trying to deliver for the people you serve?
  3. 3
    Clean your calendar!  Remove what doesn't help #1 and #2 above.
  4. 4
    Review and reset your work habits that over-filled your plate, so it doesn't become the kitchen drawer you clear out only to watch it full up again.
  5. 5
    Upgrade your energy management: how do you decide what's worthy of your precious time and attention?  

If any of these steps seem too hard or out-of-reach, don't worry!  I’ll show you how to do all these things in the YourPerfectPlate training program. 


YourPerfectPlate

How to be Mission Accomplished in 40 hours a week or less, week after week

YourPerfectPlate is a self-directed online course that walks you step by step from being frenetic and overstretched to feeling fantastic and optimistic.  I created this course for you to reset your work life as a nonprofit leader with full focus on impact.  I want to help you cut out the noise and free yourself up to be fully present in your personal life and come back refreshed every day.  Don’t the people you serve deserve you at your best?

You’ll learn how to quickly clear your plate of all the clutter and low value activities that distract you from your professional potential in terms of impact. 

We’ll also cover how to make sure that the things you’re committed to are the RIGHT things.  Right for you personally and professionally, right for the organization you work for, and right for the people you serve.

And we’ll make sure you have enough time in your personal life to refresh and recharge.

You’ll never have to cancel on a friend or miss a school play or any other obligation (unless you choose to – remember when spare time gave you choices?!). 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

This Program Is the Fastest Possible Way To Reset Your Workload

 

You’ll learn:

  • How to decline taking on low-value tasks in a way that won’t offend or upset anyone so you can maintain focus on the things that matter, get them done and see their impact without any guilt about not doing “anything and everything”
  • How to remove all the distractions, noise and clutter from your calendar so your days are no longer wall to wall obligations, no more double and triple bookings, giving you time to develop the most important relationships, maintain high quality work product from your team and leave the office early enough that you don’t need to remember the building security code
  • How to redefine your own personal mission and vision so you can assess your priorities in a millisecond without ever losing sight of what drives you, what “impact” really means in your heart for you, your career and your family
  • Simple ways to build good self-care habits that energize and refresh you each day, so you can take on even the most difficult challenge at work and, on the weekends, be fully present in your personal life
  • How to make sure you’re as close to 100%, as often as 100% of the time, so your colleagues get the best version of you, you increase your work-rate and impact effortlessly and you still have time to hit the gym, indulge your hobbies, get to that flute recital without feeling like you’re running out of steam
  • How to accelerate your own growth and development in a way that puts the fun and joy back into learning
  • Powerful techniques to unlock unconscious habits that lead to work overload and how to rewire them so that habits serve you, not the other way around
  • Exactly what your superpowers are, how to enhance them and make them work at turbo-speed so you can always do your best work
  • How to spot a low-impact, high resource initiative a mile off and either avoid it or squash it if possible to minimize risk to your workload and your organization

Yes! Yes!  I want my plate to be Perfect!

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Real Feedback from Real People

“Kevin is a true oracle!"

“His counsel has been invaluable to me.  He's an outstanding sounding board and understands how to unpack, restate, and reframe dilemmas one is facing.  Kevin instinctually knows what questions to ask and when to ask them.  He has a lovely wit and a well-placed sense of humor.”

Stephanie Myers
- Kendall Hunt Publishing, New York

“Kev is really good helping leaders and their teams create the big picture and then turning it into real, do-able actions."

“If necessary, he'll get in the trenches with you and make it happen because he believes in the work and in the people doing it.  He knows when to challenge and when to support.  And he smiles all the time, which is really annoying! (LOL)"

Michelle Pierre Farid
- LEARN Charter Schools, Chicago
Kev Khayat

Proficient Plate-keeper

Your coach

Kev has over 25 years' experience in nonprofit and mission-led organizations in health care, social care and education, both in the United States and United Kingdom, working behind the scenes to support front-line practitioners.  He's tackled big, messy service transformations and turnarounds in multiple services for adults and children, child protection, mental health, and K-12 schools among others.  He's learned though making  a gazillion mistakes how to focus on and deliver impact.  He refuses to stop smiling.

Sounds lovely, Kev, but

I just don't have the time right now

I get it.  When you're fighting fires or speeding at 90 mph (or both) it's hard to even think of taking your eye off what's immediately in front of you.  That's precisely why I really believe this program will change your life. 


I'm not kidding.  Because it is possible (and not too hard) to “re-learn” how to restore work balance in a nonprofit or mission-led setting. 


And it's possible to overcome the common types of resistance and roadblocks that your colleagues have developed over time – mostly unconsciously, mostly with the best will in the world, mostly with a deep desire to do “anything and everything” to move the needle on impact.  


The really good news is that if you decide that making your career work for you is something you want to learn, and then you also take the steps towards awareness and learn it, you can get back to being the energizing, confident, assured, and naturally impactful leader who Boards want to hire and promote and funders want to fund.

Is impact still even a thing?

Good question - looking around at the scale of the issues we're trying to address, it's easy to get frustrated.  We seem to get in our own way and use up all our time on stuff that doesn't matter much.  That's exactly where this type of training fits in - helping you be your best self to make the most impact possible.


That way, you won’t ever have to worry about ending up thinking that you’ll never make the impact you’re always striving for… or become so completely frustrated and dissatisfied with nonprofit work  and culture that you resign yourself to the opinion that it’s okay to be overburdened forever.


Don’t put yourself on the path of a once-rising leader who, out of pain and fear, has accepted for themselves a work life without real impact, and a personal life that’s disconnected and passes by too quickly.

Advantages vs Disadvantages

The YourPerfectPlate program will allow you to create and experience more energy and impact in your life… regardless of the problems that may exist at work, and regardless of your past experiences.

YourPerfectPlate 

  • I'm pleased to report that we've surpassed our goal on this metric.
  • Actually I had time yesterday so I went ahead and finished putting that report together.  
  • We're very pleased and grateful to accept such a significant donation.
  • Don't worry, I won't be late. 
  • Sure, I can meet for coffee, right after my Hot Vinyasa class.  

Your Plate Now

  • Ugh, more?
  • Are you serious?  What a cluster!
  • I'd love to but I'm already triple-booked.
  • We can take that on but I'm not sure what difference it'll make.  
  • If I have to work late, so be it.
  • I've been back from vacation for one day and it's like it never happened.

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You are fully protected by my 100% Satisfaction-Guarantee. If you don't achieve a much improved work-life balance within 60 days, just let me know and I'll send you a prompt refund.


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