How many times have you said those words? I’ve spoken them too often!
Reality check: There is enough time to do everything that needs to be done. Some things on our ‘to do’ list, don’t really need to be done. Priorities are often our weakness in the Nonprofit realm. Why? Because we attract people with compassionate hearts, servant minds, and a love for others. This personality type often battles saying, ‘yes’ to more than we should.
How, you ask, are we to develop donors, create and manage programs that serve an important mission, and stay balanced with our home life? We grow. We learn.
First, set priorities –
1. Personally – what are your priorities? Family? God? Work? Health? Brainstorm everything and write them out. Reconsider and add value to each. Then, put them in order – first, second, third, etc.
2. Professionally – do the same thing. What are your top priorities?
We use our calendar.
Color code – “personal”, “work”, “medical”, “family” – you pick the categories, but color code your appointments.
Calendar EVERYTHING! Yep, everything – date night, family night, workout times, girl’s night, church, etc. Put it all on the calendar. If it is on the calendar, you can say “I have an appointment at that time” and it’s true.
Does your calendar match your priorities? Tweak it until it does.
I know, it’s so much easier said than done. We’ve tried, we’ve failed, and we’ve tried again. But, if you keep trying, you’ll get better at it. I promise. My ability to say the words, “my schedule won’t allow a meeting at that time” or “offer me 3 or 4 options so we can match our calendars well” have opened a myriad of opportunities for me to manage my time best.
Here’s a visual:
Clients, donors or staff call or stop into your office (during non-COVID 19 days) and want to chat right now.
1) Answer, only if you have a minute and begin with, “I’d really like to give you the attention you deserve, but I’m on my way to an appointment.” or similar verbiage – managing expectations, finding a time when you can meet with them in person or by phone when you can serve them best IS serving them best.
2) Don’t answer if you can’t – you’ll sound rushed, distracted and the impact is negative –more negative than them having to leave a voicemail. This is NOT serving anyone well.
a. Call or email them as soon as you can to arrange a best time to talk, again using the language, “I want to give you the best of me”.
MOST busy people prefer setting a specific time and day to talk to donor development staff as well as program staff. Some do prefer “spontaneous” and I’m going to help you find a place for that in your schedule next.
Here’s where it gets tricky. Include white space on your calendar. Add 15 minutes to a ½ hour before and after every appointment. Why? Because after a meeting, you always have “action items” or someone wants to grab five minutes of your time. White space keeps you less stressed – you put this time into your calendar, so saying “yes” to a short chat doesn’t mess up your day.
Now, after you’ve put all the priority items on your calendar for the week, what room is left? What didn’t fit? Add those things that didn’t make the calendar yet if you see a little room and if there’s no room at all – you might consider handing something off to someone else.
Much like cleaning out your closet –
· Give it away, if it’s worth doing and someone on your team or a volunteer can take it on, let them run with it.
· Throw it out – if it is a nice idea, but no one really has time for it, toss it out or put it on a “wish list” for a someday project.
· Revise – change the project’s time commitment by sharing bite size pieces with others or revising it all together to give a positive result with less effort. Work smarter, not harder.
Keep in mind, this guideline doesn’t make you inflexible. My calendar ebbs and flows regularly, but I start with a plan and change it only when it remains in balance. But starting with a rigid mindset, especially if your personality is one that struggles with balance (like me), will help you over the long haul. The reality is we’re training ourselves to have greater peace, be kinder, serve better and accomplish more using the tools available to us and might I add, is free!
Finally, our career choice lends itself to not having enough time to do everything we know would bring greater benefit to the organization we serve. Accept it. There’s never enough money or time for everything we think we should be doing.
However, that’s a whole other blog and article post.