Original post by Shannon Otto 6/24/10
Imagine instead of your five- or 10-person fundraising team, there’s just one person responsible for the fundraising. Oh, and that person is also in charge of the marketing. And maybe throw in a few other duties, as well.
Many organizations don’t have to imagine such a scenario. For small-staff organizations, that’s a reality.
We work with hundreds and hundreds of small-staff association executives, and we’ve heard from them how important it is to be as productive as possible, how important it is for them to be able to streamline their duties, how difficult it can be to manage their memberships with just a handful of employees.
Often, smaller local organizations have just 10 or fewer staff members, and some organizations have just one or two full-time staffers! Although this negates many of the issues that can occur with too many silos, another important issue can arise: there just aren’t enough hours in the day! And now everyone’s constantly being told that they have to start using social media or they’ll lose members. Something’s gotta give!
So, to increase productivity and make the most of your precious hours during the day, here are a few tips to streamline your workday.
1. Schedule a time for e-mail. We can get sucked into answering tons of e-mails and, before we know it, we’ve lost hours of our workday. By scheduling a time for checking our e-mail — for instance, just before lunch — we can avoid the timesuck that often comes with answering important messages. If you wait until just before lunch to check it, you’ll be more anxious to get to your midday break, and, likely, get through the e-mails more quickly.
2. Don’t have a pointless meeting, and don’t let them last for hours on end. How many times have you left a two-hour long meeting only to say, “what just happened?” Meetings are often just a formality, and we could often get the same things accomplished over just e-mail. Don’t have a meeting unless it’s truly necessary.
3. Use an egg timer or online stopwatch. These tools give us tangible deadlines for important tasks, and often we stay more focused when we set a finite time for projects. Additionally, those tangible deadlines are usually the ones we actually adhere to. Whether you set it for yourself or it comes from your boss, deadlines keep us on our toes.
4. Make a to-do list. Research has shown again and again that people who create lists are happier and healthier. Plus, there’s nothing like the feeling of crossing a task off your to-do list. (Full disclosure: I sometimes retroactively add tasks to my list just so I can cross them off. Anal retentive much?) Lists help us prioritize our days, weeks and months.
5. Stop multitasking! Our shiny new iPhones may be able to effortlessly switch from task to task, but that doesn’t mean our brains can do it. Again, research continues to prove that multitasking absolutely kills our productivity. We flit from task to task without really accomplishing anything. So set a timer, get to it and then cross the item off your list.
6. Learn how to say no. Many of us have this inane idea that we have to please everyone, all the time, or we’re failures … which of course, is absolutely ridiculous. If someone asks you to do something (that doesn’t have an immediate deadline) and you just don’t have time for it that day, realize that saying no, delegating or outsourcing it is perfectly acceptable.
And remember, no matter how many or how few staff members you have, we all need time to recharge and have a life outside of work. Whether it’s grabbing a mid-week pedicure, exercising a few times a week, catching up with an old friend for dinner or curling up with the latest from your Netflix queue, don’t forget to take (at least) a few hours each week to breathe.