We’ve all said it but is it true? I think what we really mean is how can I better manage my time?
From my experience, nonprofit CEO’s are especially time strapped, especially those who lead smaller nonprofits with few or no support staff. The CEO wears many hats and performs multiple jobs: office management, human resources/personnel, fundraising, board support, program management, janitorial, just to name a few.
Even CEO’s with larger nonprofits who have support staff have time management issues. I’ve seen many who take little to no time for themselves and when they do schedule down time, they often end up working instead.
So, how can the busy executive manage all these different jobs in forty hours a week? Many can’t and end up working sixty to eighty hours a week and that’s a prescription for burn-out.
I’ve seen many a CEO arrive late for a meeting, looking harried and stressed, apologizing for her tardiness because “something” came up at the office. If this frequently happens to you, you may need help with time management, delegating, and/or being able to ascertain whether something is truly an emergency and requires your immediate attention. I can help with those but for now, we’re going to focus on time management.
There are hundreds of time management books, tools, etc. on the market. The busy nonprofit executive needs something that’s simple and easy to implement. Here are my top four, tried and true, time management tips:
- Make a list each week of the top ten (only ten for the week) things you need to accomplish that week. Narrowing your focus to only ten, forces you to prioritize. Put up a large white board in your office where you can easily see it from your desk and write these on the board. Making your top ten visible at all times keeps them top of mind.
- Time blocking is a great tool. Block out time on your calendar for regular, daily tasks like checking and answering emails and text messages. I recommend 3 times a day: first thing in the morning, after lunch, and before you leave for the day. Also, block out time for other regular weekly tasks you need to accomplish, such as donor thank you letters and/or phone calls. Block out time for meetings and then only schedule meetings during those times.
- TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS! Yes, I’m yelling. Those little pop-ups on your computer screen that announce the arrival of an email or social media post will always derail your concentration. Same with text messages and phone calls. Trust me, those can wait an hour or two. I know, you’re thinking, “but what if it’s an emergency?” Really? How often does that happen? There was a time when email and text messaging didn’t exist, and we all managed just fine.
- Before you leave your office at the end of the day, make a list of the top three things you need to accomplish the next day. Yes, only three. Again, this forces you to prioritize. If you finish all three you can always add more.
Choose one of these and try it for a month. Then, add another, and so on.
If implementing any of these causes you anxiety or stress, then there’s most likely a deeper issue here. A little coaching can help you identify what’s causing the anxiety and help you strategize ways to overcome the anxiety.
If you would like more information or help with time management, or some coaching for the anxiety, shoot me an email and let’s talk.