Work Smarter, Not Harder

As you look at your fundraising calendar, you can easily become overwhelmed. People want more and more from you in an environment that seems tougher and tougher.

Here are three simple yet powerful ways to streamline your work. Consider them “life hacks” for maintaining your sanity.

Remember Pareto’s 80/20

Think about your closet. Picture it in your mind. Now think about the clothes you normally reach for.

80% of the time you’re wearing the same 20% of your clothes.

We know this applies across lots of sectors. 20% of your donors give 80% of your overall fundraising. 20% of your time produces 80% of your results.

That means the bulk of your donors and the bulk of your time aren’t producing the bulk of your results.

So increase your focus to where the return is. Don’t just drop the less productive time or people. You still need those donations and results. But start tracking time.

Find out what has the most impact. Chances are, most of those things are the “Quadrant 2” things: very important but not urgent. Things like thanking donors, writing an appreciation note to staff, or reading a book for your own professional development.

Once you’ve identified them, try spending 30 minutes more on those each day. Not making your day longer. But displacing the less productive time.

Repurpose as much as you can

Reinventing the wheel every time you do something is a waste. A music artist makes an album once, and gets paid for it over and over. Why can’t we do something similar in nonprofits?

For instance, your nonprofit’s need to have a blog in addition to the newsletter and to do more social media updates on Facebook and Google+.

That doesn’t mean creating completely new content every single time.

If you write a newsletter, use the individual articles as blog posts on your website. Then post those links to your Facebook, Google+, and Twitter accounts.

Once you get the hang of this, try identifying another area you can repurpose effort.

Calendar your “to do” list

Have you ever written everything overwhelming you on a to do list and then never worked on the list?

Me too.

One way to get over this is to calendar your to do list. Rather than putting those activities and tasks on a list, give them actual time on your calendar.

This has numerous benefits. For one, people with access to your calendar see that you’re not available during those times. Another benefit is the immense relief you experience seeing time already committed to these activities. And finally, you have a more realistic idea of what you can actually accomplish in your day when your calendar is apportioned with your existing commitments.

What about you?

These three life hacks are a start. What have you found helps you work smarter without necessarily working harder?