The Importance of Technology, In the Words of a Busy Millennial


Today is my third and final day at the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC), an annual conference hosted by Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN). It’s being hosted in San Francisco this year, and someone recommended that I attend, so the stars were aligned. And let me tell you – it’s awesome!! I signed up for the conference thinking it would be good for me to be connected to the latest and greatest ideas in technology, as I work with my work’s donor database and other online platforms. Little did I know that the conference wouldn’t just show me techie tools, but instead lead me to evaluate the role technology plays in our organization and how it can have a role in furthering our mission… or any nonprofit activity, for that matter!

Beyond the nonprofit organization aspect, these past couple of days have reminded me of the importance of technology in general. We all know that technology is important because of the computers on our desk. But I’m here to bring a different perspective to the table – that of a busy millennial.

Here are a few of the reasons technology is important to me.

  • It helps me refine my voice. As I’ve mentioned before, blogging has really helped me develop my thoughts regarding the nonprofit sector, millennial issues, and so much more. But beyond that, having an online presence has given me a new part of my identity to craft. I have spent most of the breakout sessions I’ve participated in at NTC live tweeting the content (check out mytimeline here to read some of the great stuff I’ve been learning). This is reinforcing the ideas I’m learning and helps solidify them in my mind, and gives me ownership of the content I agree on. It’s now a part of me, which I love.
  • The things I need are anywhere I need them (with Wifi, of course). Being a busy millennial, I try to minimize my time doing extraneous activities. Organizing is one of those things. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some list making, but that takes time, and I don’t have a lot of that. Technology has allowed for sharing, collaborating, and housing documents in the cloud, so that I don’t have to worry about putting things on a flash drive or – gasp – a CD. It’s all at my fingertips.
  • It’s green. Remember the days of paper planners? CDs, tapes, and even DVDs? Address books (OK I still need to transition my old one)? At the NTC there is a QR code for each session’s evaluation. No more stacks of paper and trash. Same for the paperwork I need – I don’t have extra things to keep track of. Technology is doing some amazing things to green our world, and for that, we should be thankful.

I must say that after experiencing the NTC I am hooked and really hope I can continue to go each year. I highly recommend it to you, too! Look into a membership for NTEN – it’s very affordable for students, including Masters students – and join! It’s an amazing resource, and it’s not just for IT staff!



What To Do With Your Overactive Mind

Like most people, I’m often consumed with the unknown in my mind. What if this happens? What about if I had said this instead? What am I doing wrong? My mind is endlessly running, thinking of how I could have done something differently, or how I’ll do something in the future.

And when you’re like me – someone who loves efficiency, whether it’s in your nonprofit or your personal life – this tendency to over-think can have serious ramifications.

I’ve always thought it was an asset that I have a knack for making things more efficient. I like to read up on the latest technology, understand best practices, and help nonprofits become more efficient, through new systems, procedures, and policies. I love that stuff!

But – because I want to make sure I do everything the best way I can, I try to prepare for how I’ll do it in advance, instead of relying on my instincts at the moment. Planning is good, but over-planning is my downfall.

Here are some tips that help me fight the over-thinking beast!

  • Admit you have a problem. I’ve always been aware that I’ve been an over-thinker. I never really thought it was much of a problem. It’s only now that I realize how much damage it does to me. Instead of reveling in the present – our days, after all, are filled with beautiful small moments to appreciate – I dwell on the past or plan for the future. Understanding that this is a part of me and my life is the first step to addressing it.
  • Cut yourself off. Now that you’ve realized the problem you have, you will notice yourself doing it. All the time. I mean, all the time! Whenever I realize I’m doing it (often when I’m driving or doing something else routine), I gently bring myself back to the present. I wrote about this practice of mindfulness in What is Work/Life Balance?.
  • Bring this knowledge back to your work. As a development staff member, special events are inevitably part of the job. I’ve always hated them (as you read here), but I never fully understood why – until now! Events are one of those things that you can never plan for every small detail – you just have to move forward as best prepared as possible. It is highly possible to over-prepare for an event – that’s what I do!! And then I just make myself miserable with all the negative possibilities and work myself to the bone preparing back up plans in my mind. Now I understand why I dislike events, and hopefully now I can move toward not hating them so much!

It’s good to plan, but I’m realizing more and more that this strength comes with its drawbacks, too. Like I said, the first step is becoming aware of the problem, and I will tell you that’s helped me tremendously already. I have a long way to go to focus on fully embracing the present, but at least now I know the task at hand, and can slowly move in that direction.