If you’ve wished you could hire a lifeguard for your association because you’re tired of treading water and you’ve been watching that wave on the horizon with increasing fear, you’re not alone. According to a recent study from the nonprofit Families and Work Institute, over half of Americans polled admitted to feeling overworked or overwhelmed at least once in their current position.
Half of that number came from small staff associations.
Okay, so I may have made that last part up, but doesn’t it feel that way sometimes? You wear many hats and have only one head. Sometimes that gets...well, overwhelming.
But it doesn’t have to be. Here are five tips for taking charge of your time and increasing your productivity.
Look at your day
Frequently it’s not how much time we have but how it’s being allocated that slows us down. It might be our own slowdowns or those imposed by others, but taking charge of them is one way to regain control over your day. For instance, if you’re answering the same questions from members over and over, create content that provides those answers. Yes, it takes time to write it (or create a video on it) but once it’s done, it will help many people in the time it takes you to answer it once.
You need time to focus. Creating blocks of time dedicated to one thing will help you complete the task more quickly. If you allow every email to interrupt your work flow, you’ll have stops and starts all day long.
Carve out uninterrupted time for a single task, say an hour. Tend to that task only during that hour. At the end of the hour take 5 minutes to check emails or social media, dealing with urgent issues only. Set a timer if you have to. Then move onto your next chunk.
Know your productive time
Tackle your biggest task for the day during the time you are most productive. For me, it’s the morning and at night, but I need a few minutes to hit my stride so I grab a cup of coffee and sit down with email and social media first thing. This takes about 15 minutes and then I begin my toughest project.
Knock out the easy
For multiple demanding projects, tackle one when you’re at your sharpest. Then knock out a few easy ones. Don’t go from hard to hard or you won’t feel like you got anything done. Knock out hard, then tackle a few easy. Now you have multiple tasks done with a good portion of your day left.
Kill the meetings
Whenever possible, eliminate meetings. If you must meet, create an agenda and adhere to it strictly. Hold meetings standing up so no one is tempted to go on and on. Time them and keep them to the exact time they’re scheduled for.
Working for a small staff association requires a lot of ingenuity and creative resource management and our hats are off to you.
Please share your productivity tips below so others can learn.