Nonprofit 411: Getting Everything Done

By Annette Rubin, Certified Professional Coach, Founder of Coaching to Potential

Annette Rubin Getting Everything DoneIn the nonprofit world there always seems to be too much work and too few resources, but by focusing on what really matters—and using your time carefully and wisely—you’ll be surprised what you can accomplish. Here are suggestions for getting everything done.

Be Sure Everything You’re Doing Really Has to Be Done by You

Often people discover that they have tasks and projects on their to-do list that should be done by others. There are three basic reasons.

  • You can’t say no. Consider each request based on the importance to your organization, level of priority in relation to other work, who is asking, and whether someone else can take it on.
  • You don’t delegate. You may believe that your staff or colleagues are already working too hard or wouldn’t be able to do a job as well as you. However, giving others the opportunity to take on new tasks facilitates their engagement, helps them gain confidence and new skills, and supports your efforts to get the organization’s work done.
  • You haven’t let go of tasks/projects you don’t have to do yourself. Sometimes you just enjoy doing work that really isn’t part of your job description. Make sure you make your own critical work your highest priority.

Get Rid of Unnecessary Time-Wasters

You may find as you look back on how you spent your day that you actually spend very few hours taking care of business. Here’s what can you do to increase your focused work time.

  • Manage your meetings. Before you agree to attend any meeting, ask yourself if it is critical for you to be there. If not, then decline the meeting. Make certain that every meeting you organize is critical. Ensure you have a tight agenda, limit the length of the meeting, and stick to the schedule.
  • Manage distractions. Check your accumulated email or other social media only a few pre-considered times each day, so that you minimize the number of interruptions.
  • Encourage colleagues to schedule meetings instead of dropping in for unscheduled “brief chats.” Close your door when you are focused on a project, and put up a Please Do Not Disturb sign if necessary. If you don’t have a door, put a sign where everyone can see it. Create a culture of respect for people’s time and recognition of how distractions limit productivity.

Manage Your Work and Time

Do you take charge of each day or do you let requests from others divert you from your own essential work? Be strategic in the use of your limited time.

  • Know what you have to do. Create a list of everything on your plate. Update the list daily. Separate the list into categories: items that you can do quickly, tasks that might take up to a couple of hours and longer-term projects. Each day identify your priorities and focus on them.
  • Plan your day. Use your calendar to reserve time for projects and tasks, especially for work that requires concentration. If you have to bump one of these appointments with yourself, reschedule the time you’ve set aside for YOUR work so that doesn’t get lost.
  • Set deadlines. Assign a deadline for all of your projects and tasks. Then hold yourself accountable. Without a deadline, tasks and projects may remain on your list.