10 Email Hacks to Increase Nonprofit Productivity

We live in an age of information overload.

As a result, many of us (me included) have gotten into some really bad habits in an effort just to “keep up.”

These habits are not only killing your productivity, they’re killing you!

So today I thought I’d take a step back from offering fundraising tips and tools, and offer up some brass tacks advice to lighten your load.

And I want to take on the killer of all time sucks.

Email.

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Overwhelmed office worker

How to Calm ‘Busy’ Nonprofit Overwhelm Syndrome

When I managed a nonprofit team I inevitably had staff who struggled to meet deadlines. So I’d ask them to keep track for a week of how they found themselves spending their time.  My boss, generously, even made funds available to send folks to time management courses.

It seldom worked.

Because most traditional time management advice involves cutting out unnecessary activities. Some of this is possible, but many nonprofit workers simply have too much to do in too little time. The “unnecessary” is sometimes hard to find.

Recently I happened on an article in the New York Times by Adam Grant, Productivity Isn’t About Time Management. It’s About Attention Management. In it, he talked about someone who couldn’t find any tasks to drop from his calendar:

This is going to sound like a joke, but it’s not,” he confessed. “My only idea is to drink less water so I don’t have to go to the bathroom so many times.

Oh, dear.

But Grant offered an interesting solution; a reframing of the conundrum.  He suggests that time management is actually part of the problem, not a solution.

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4th-of-july-dog-overloaded-257x300.jpg

Declare Your Independence Day – Information Overload Be Gone!

It’s the new plague. And a highly contagious epidemic, from which no one is immune.

Are you showing any symptoms?

I feel like:

  • I’m working all the time, but not getting that much accomplished.
  • I’m working on 10 projects at once, but none get finished.
  • My ‘to-do’ list never gets completed.
  • I’m in meetings all day and don’t have time to work.
  • I bring my laptop to meetings and pretend to take notes while surfing the web.
  • I’m answering email all day and don’t have time to work.
  • I answer email during conference calls and in meetings.
  • I have less and less time to plan, not to mention free time.
  • I have less and less time to learn, not to mention creative time.
  • I can never get to things quickly enough.
  • I sit down at my computer and end up doing something different than I planned.
  • I am eating lunch at my desk, mired in my virtual inbox.
  • I make calls while driving, and even send the occasional text, even though I know I shouldn’t.

Informationoverloaditis.

If you checked off three or more, you’ve got the disease. 8 or more and we need to rush you to an unplugged vacation. All of the above and you need a sabbatical!

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LIght bulb

Accountability: One Big Secret to Reach Your Fundraising Goals

I’ve long advocated for incorporating accountability into nonprofit job descriptions if you hope to get, and measure, results. Without accountability, tasks have a serious likelihood of slipping to the back burner; then off the stove entirely.

Procrastination is just a human trait. 

We tell ourselves we’ll clean out the garage this weekend.  But no one makes us do it.  So the weekend comes and goes without anything happening.

We make a new year’s resolution to exercise more. We even join a gym. We attend a couple of times, but no one is tracking our progress on the elliptical machine. We fall back into our previous habits and, before we know it, we’ve stopped going.

We plan to get out of the office and visit a donor at least three times a week, but no one really pays attention to our schedule – after all, we’re grown-up professionals! – and it’s easy to get distracted by emails, meetings, and a host of other tasks.

I could go on with a zillion examples. You probably can too. Why?  Because human beings are wired this way. We get distracted. We procrastinate. We give in to habits that may not serve us well. And we’ve been doing it for centuries.  It even has a Greek name: Akrasia.

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10 Email Hacks to Increase Nonprofit Productivity

We live in an age of information overload.

As a result, many of us (me included) have gotten into some really bad habits in an effort just to “keep up.”

These habits are not only killing your productivity, they’re killing you!

So today I thought I’d take a step back from offering fundraising tips and tools, and offer up some brass tacks advice to lighten your load.

And I want to take on the killer of all time sucks.

Email.

Details
4th-of-july-dog-overloaded-257x300.jpg

Declare Your Independence Day – Information Overload Be Gone!

It’s the new plague. And a highly contagious epidemic, from which no one is immune.

Are you showing any symptoms? I feel like:

  • I’m working all the time, but not getting that much accomplished.
  • I’m working on 10 projects at once, but none get finished.
  • My ‘to-do’ list never gets completed.
  • I’m in meetings all day and don’t have time to work.
  • I bring my laptop to meetings and pretend to take notes while surfing the web.
  • I’m answering email all day and don’t have time to work.
  • I answer email during conference calls and in meetings.
  • I have less and less time to plan, not to mention free time.
  • I have less and less time to learn, not to mention creative time.
  • I can never get to things quickly enough.
  • I sit down at my computer and end up doing something different than I planned.
  • I am eating lunch at my desk, mired in my virtual inbox.
  • I make calls while driving, and even send the occasional text, even though I know I shouldn’t.

Informationoverloaditis.

If you checked off three or more, you’ve got the disease. 8 or more and we need to rush you to an unplugged vacation. All of the above and you need a sabbatical!

Details