It’s kind of the nature of the PTO beast as a volunteer and/or leader to at some point in time feel overwhelmed or approaching burn out. And neither is fun to feel, even for a second. Here are some tips to get you out from feel overwhelmed and back to being slightly crispy, but not burnt.
Overwhelmed? Here’s what to do!
Let Go of Guilt
First and foremost, you have to cut yourself some slack for not being Wonder Woman here. It’s impossible for any one person to make all the PTO things happen. You are not alone feeling bad that it just all can’t happen.
Make a plan
When I feel overwhelmed it’s usually because I’m not sure what I should do next and I’m feeling utterly suffocated by the sheer number of things that seem like they need to be done now. Like right now. But paradoxically, sometimes I almost need to stay in this place of horrible discomfort for just a bit because it helps to really get focused on what I need to do next.
When you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, take a few minutes to map out what the next few days of your life will look like. Figure out when you’re going to have the time of everything that must be done. Write down everything in a time slot.
When you can see what you have to do AND when you’re going to do it, nothing is left to chance. All that’s left to do is to do what you’ve written down.
And if you still don’t have time for something that has to be done, see if you can delegate it to another PTO volunteer. Learning the art of delegation takes time though, so practice it a lot.
Cross off the stuff that doesn’t matter
Sometimes it’s great to live in wouldn’t-it-be-nice-land or the perfect scenario. But most times, that just doesn’t match up to what can happen in real life. Even when the most perfect of plans are created, a lot of times, there are some things that aren’t going to happen with the time you have available.
And sometimes these are things that aren’t necessary. In these cases, it’s totally ok to cross things off of your to do list.
Again, focus on what needs to happen to make the event/task a success. When you’re overwhelmed is not the time to be a perfectionist. Your goal for mental sanity is just to make it through.
Procrastinate, only in a good way
Yes, I’m a productivity queen and here I am telling you to put something off until later. And here’s why. You can’t possibly get everything that’s on your to do list done all at once. It’s impossible! So take a good hard look at your list and see what you can out off until later.
Say, for example, you’re in charge of family events and the end-of-the-year staff appreciation luncheon (this is my situation currently, not a made up!). Well, the end of the year luncheon can totally be put off until about a month out from the luncheon. I don’t need to worry about that now.
So that’s what I mean by procrastinating. It’s really more of doing what you need to get done for the very next event on the calendar. And not jumping ahead to things that come later in time. All out your planner and take a look at what’s up next on your hit list. That event should be your focus right now. Leave the other things for later.
Burnt-out? Here’s your game plan:
Have a Kit Kat
First and foremost, the a break, for Pete’s sake! You are allowed to be Super Volunteer of All Time and take a mental health break. So don’t even go into school and give yourself the mental and physical break from the demands of PTO.
Drop your kiddo off at school and head to Target for some retail therapy or take a walk with your pooch. Eat some chocolate. Do whatever is going to make you happy in the moment. Just don’t work on anything PTO related during this time. Take a for real break, okay?
Take a day or a few. If you have time critical things on your plate, reach out to the PTO President or if you’re the President, another board member and let them know you need help.
Get yourself some help. Not professional help, my dear! There are many people who are probably willing to help you out with whatever your are feeling oh-so-done with. I can bank on the fact that pretty much every PTO volunteer and leader has felt burnt out at some point in their volunteer career. Your friends will have your back and will pitch in.
And if they won’t? Time to get new friends and/or take a look at what you can cut out. Maybe it’s time for a change from the normal course. Maybe somethings that are must-dos are really disposable if there’s not the volunteer bank to make them happen.
Nine times out of ten, you can get a handle on being overwhelmed by cutting the clutter and chaos from your life by getting organized. Just a bit of additional organization will likely do the trick. Remember, in addition to being a PTA volunteer extraordinaire, I’m also a professional organizer!
If you don’t already have this awesome tool at your disposal, check out the PTO Success Kit. It’s a huge collection of resources to help organize your entire PTO (or PTA or any other school parent volunteer organization). It’ll give you way more than just a bit of organization and control. In fact, the collection has 29 laser focused solutions for every role in your group, with a bevy of resources especially helpful for Presidents, Treasurers, Room Parents, plus Membership and Fundraising chairs. You’l love the instant systems it injects into your group that will help right away and going forward.
Over to you!
Hope this helps give you an idea of how to get a better handle on life when you’re feeling overrun or like you have no more in the tank to give.