Time may be our most valuable resource in the nonprofit sector. As we know, capital is hard to come-by but time we’ve certainly got to give. And, it’s the only sector where people actually give away time, aka – volunteer. So, it’s no wonder that many of us are challenged to effectively manage our time. It’s not that we somehow lack this skill in the nonprofit sector, but most of us are trying to do more with less; trying to compensate for the fact that a program assistant isn’t in the budget although this is probably the job for 1.5 people. It’s not our ability to manage time that is deficient, it’s that we have more to do with the same amount of time as everybody else in every other sector.
Managing our time well, then, is critical to nonprofit folks. Determining what must get done now and what can wait, what needs to be delegated or removed from our ‘to do’ lists, and, how we arrange our days will help to us to maximize our time so we can focus on moving the needle with our mission.
The resources below share tips, strategies, and ideas that we can use to help us get the most out of our days without exhausting ourselves in the process. Plus, there are some blogs below that even suggest working less or using biology to plan our workdays.
Though the introductory assumption here that nonprofit folks need to think more like business folks is bothersome (and could be a blog topic all on its own) there are some great time management strategies in this article. The author discusses delegating, focussing on thinking big, planning and more.
Not only does this great piece share really practical and helpful tips on time management, it also proffers some really thoughtful stress reduction habits that are as easy as saying ‘thank you’, saying ‘no’, and smiling. These actions are scientifically proven to reduce stress – and isn’t that what time management is all about?
‘Treat Your Passion as a Job’ is tip number 6 in this excellent post. This may be a hard one for us in the nonprofit world but necessary to avoiding over-stretching ourselves and burnout. Even though most of us love what we do and chose this career path because we wanted to make the world better, it is still a job and we need to evaluate the central equation: “for this much money I can produce this much work”. Lots of other time management tips can be found here, too!
Wow! The author of this post is so clever in how they tackle some of the major challenges facing resource and time constrained nonprofits. Rather than a simple list of tips it’s arranged like Jeopardy ‘questions’.
Capacity Building for $1000
Answer: Improve Your Skills
Question: What can nonprofit leaders do to create better time management?
Then each of these answer/question sets are discussed, then practical and easily-implemented strategies are shared with the reader. This is a great starting point!
Though this plan is not specific to nonprofit folks, the evidence and studies it is based on are extremely powerful. This article shares very specific but very simple actions to take before our day begins, throughout our day, and at the end of every day in order to be our most productive and accomplished selves. Motivated for tomorrow already!
This read may be a strong reality check for many of us. Teasing out the difference between ‘urgent’ tasks and ‘important’ tasks may be the key to better managing our time. ‘Urgent’ tasks are things like responding to emails, putting out fires and ‘busywork’, whereas ‘important’ tasks are activities that move our businesses towards accomplishing goals. Think of the difference between responding to emails and breaking down our yearly goals into quarterly, monthly and daily tasks. This article not only highlights the difference between ‘urgent’ and ‘important’ for us, but it also offers three simple strategies to help us better manage the ‘urgent’ work and focus on the ‘important’ work.
Vu Le from Nonprofit AF is always sharing funny, touching and relatable bits of wisdom, complaints, and beauty in our wacky nonprofit world. In this piece he acknowledges that not everyone has the power or ability to work less, he suggests that we all may actually be more productive and effective by working fewer hours or by changing the way we work. This post gives us a lot to think about in terms of what is really important.
“I don’t bother with time management techniques because in a networked world, they don’t work – that is industrial age thinking”. In a blog post about time management, it may seem counterintuitive to share this post from Beth Kanter. But, here, Beth shares a strategy that some of us may find helpful in being our most productive selves. Rather than writing lists the night before or sorting out what must be done now and what can wait, Beth suggests that we design our work day based on the natural energy rhythms of our body. This technique is based on science and sleep-studies and may be effective for some of us in managing our daily activities.
Lots of us have our own tips and tricks for managing our time. If there are any you’d like to share, we’d love to hear them! Let us know in the comments below or email us at email@example.com.
Until next time,
The PLC Team