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How to crush deadlines: Free tools and tips from a project manager

main.jpgAs young professionals, we manage projects every single day. Whether it is planning for a staff meeting or the next big fundraising gala, we are constantly trying to spin more plates on fewer sticks. As I’ve advanced in my career, I have picked up tricks to help make managing both big and small projects easier. Here is my top three tips to help any project run a little bit smoother.

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I manage social media. I think we all need less of it

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I'm at home in the world of social media. Facebook, Twitter and other networks help me do my job, stay in touch with my friends, and fulfill my daily dose of manatee memes. But constant connectivity has consequences. The writing is on the Facebook wall: social media can impact our lives in ways that conflict with our values.

The speed of the social stream outpaces the joys of slow conversation. Outrage culture (not to be confused with justified anger) makes me more reactive. When I consume clickbait, I find myself engaging with people in ways that are less compassionate, nuanced, and appreciative. I act in ways that run counter to who I'd like to be, having an impact that’s different than I hope for.

This doesn't have to be the case. We can make social media a catalyst for generation and impact rather than something that controls us. Here's how I've stepped back from the brink and found balance in the world of social media.

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Living the Raffi life

main.jpgIt’s mine, but you can have some/ With you, I’d like to share it,” Raffi sang on stage at the Pantages Theater, and then stopped, with a twinkle in his eye. “You know, in Canada, we have universal health insurance,” he mused to the parents, before snapping back to the kids with a playful “I don’t know what I’m thinking about.”

I went to see Raffi in concert because I have a three-year-old who knows all the words to “Baby Beluga” and “Wheels On The Bus,” and because my wife is more organized than I am and got tickets. So why am I writing about Raffi for a YNPN-TC post? They say go with what you know, and right now, I know Raffi.

But I do feel a theme in our current conversations on this blog. The last two entries – Commarah Bashar’s “You Mad? Dealing with Anger Like a Pro” and Diane Tran’s “Noticing Now: Musings on Mindfulness” – both center on staying productive, focused, active, and emotionally intelligent in a field that can seem thankless and in a political environment that is an existential threat to many of us and to many of the communities we serve. So consider this the third blog in that series.

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You mad? Dealing with anger like a pro

resist.jpegAnger is an emotion. That seems like an obvious statement, but with the way our culture uses anger, it needs to be said. Anger is not the anti-Gandhi boogie man, and though the narrative around it has been weaponized, it doesn’t always have to be a weapon. At it’s base level, anger tells you that what’s happening isn’t right, and it wouldn’t be effective to let it happen. It tells you to fight and resist, which is part of the reason I’m writing this blogpost. ‘Fight’ and ‘resist’ aren’t impulses we necessarily want to reject at this time (or ever), and they can be useful within the realm of mission-driven work. Enclosed are a few handles to get a grip on your fury in professional settings.

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Haven't Met Our New Board Members Yet?

Now that we've made it to April, we hope you've all had a chance to meet this year's new board members.  But if you haven't, take a look at who they are and be sure to connect with them to say hello!

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Nominate an Emerging Leader!

Each year, YNPN Twin Cities partners with Minnesota Council of Nonprofits to present the Catalytic Leader Award, which recognizes an emerging leader in our sector.  Nominations close on April 20th, so be sure to nominate someone today!

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Volunteer for YNPN!

Want to build your resume and network even further with young pros in the nonprofit sector?  Volunteer for YNPN Twin Cities!

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Noticing now: Musings on mindfulness

main.jpgI firmly believe we are new in every moment. We have never lived this long in these bodies, with these lives, on this earth, with the myriad and cumulative experiences we have had prior to this second. Or this one. Or the next.

What a thing to behold. And yet, in our fast-paced, externally-focused culture, it is something we are rarely trained or encouraged to regularly behold. Especially for young nonprofiteers, pouring so much of not only our heads but also our hearts into our work, it is essential to find ways to pause, reflect, and nurture our individual human capacity and the resulting resources we seek to share with our communities.  

So if we are to act based on identity-driven leadership and in accordance with our mind, body, and spirit, how might we invest in and cultivate these instincts and wisdom? The answer to our modern-day challenge, fortunately, is timeless and old as the ages: to practice.

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Ignore this professional advice

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Me: I should really try to follow this professional advice. 
Me to me: Ignore it.

Hey, I see you there. Setting goals, meeting them, just being generally reliable and competent. But... is that enough? Assertive, articulate, logical people are esteemed, and traditional professional advice is full of rules about how to behave more like them: Stop saying these 5 things; Never ask this question at work; Don’t get emotional; Don’t ruin your chances with these 7 behaviors; Take control of situations; and so on.

Some of us are left to worry that our speech, mannerisms, personality or emotions are undermining our own success. While I’m not sure it’s productive to write off ALL professional advice, sometimes Evil Kermit has a point. Here are 5 oft-heard directives I believe we can just stop worrying about.

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What does it mean to be a witness?

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I’ve been thinking about secondary trauma (sometimes called vicarious trauma or indirect trauma) and the nonprofit sector lately. Those of us enmeshed in the work of healing a wounded world are constantly exposed to images, stories, and descriptions of violence. Whether it’s against an individual or an entire people, we know the depth and degree of evils in the world many people actively avoid confronting. Our jobs require that we engage with violence against others and the Earth.

The ah-ha moment I had while reading Judith Herman’s classic book Trauma and Recovery is a moment I’ll never forget. There is a part where she asserts there are three parties involved in an act of violence: the perpetrator, the victim, and the witness. Most of us are familiar with the roles of the perpetrator and the victim, but few have heard of the witness. The witness does not have to be present at the time of the violent act, and they don’t have to know the victim personally. They can hear an account of violence, see a video documenting it, read a story or report, or see photographs. There are many ways to be a witness. 

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