9 Tips to Manage Your Time

As the kids go back to school and college, we know it’s a sign that fall is approaching with welcome cooler temperatures.  Labor Day weekend is next weekend and I don’t know where the summer went.  Every year seems to zip by faster and faster and only the seasons remind us of what happens next…..chili, pumpkin flavored everything, football and apple picking.

Fall is also a busy time for nonprofits as they plan fall events, board retreats and fundraising kicks into high gear to hit end-of-year goals.  I find it helpful to check in about this time of year and make sure I’m practicing good time management.  In today’s past-faced world technology allows us to be connected to our work, volunteers, staff and donors at all times.  Below are some tips to make sure you manage your time as best you can.  But first, it might make sense to look at the definition of Time Management: Time management is the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity.  I like the end of this definition as every nonprofit needs to increase its effectiveness (impact), efficiency, with sometimes a limited staff, and productivity (touching more lives, raising more money).

9 Tips to Manage Your Time Well:

  1. Start your day early, arrive to work early and enjoy productive quiet time before other staff arrive and the phone starts ringing.
  2. Set realistic, achievable goals for yourself and assign an allotment of time to each task.  Make sure you allow time for personal breaks, coffee breaks and schedule time for interruptions.
  3. Take care of urgent tasks first, then important tasks, then non-essential tasks at the end of the day.  It is so easy to hop on the non-essential tasks first and procrastinate on the urgent and important ones.
  4. Return emails twice a day – once in the morning and once in the afternoon.  It is very tempting to answer emails as they come in or become stressed if your inbox fills up but remind yourself that urgent and important tasks need to come first.
  5. Set aside 30 to 60 minutes a day to make and return phone calls.  The best day to call clients or donors is usually Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday as the beginning and end of the week is a busy time.  
  6. Take five minutes before every call and task to decide what result you want to attain. This will help you know what success looks like before you start. And it will also slow time down. Take five minutes after each call and activity to determine whether your desired result was achieved. If not, what was missing? How do you put what's missing in your next call or activity?
  7. Block out distractions such as social media unless these tools are needed to generate business.
  8. Organize yourself with labeled files and keep everything pertaining to that project, client or donor in that file (hard or soft).
  9. Use a "Do not disturb" sign when you absolutely have to get work done.

Books or Audio Books on Time Management:

The Time Trap: The Classic Book on Time Management by Alec Mackenzie and Pat Nickerson

Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy

Work Less, Do More: The 14-Day Productivity Makeover by Jan Yager

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