Eight Ways to Efficiently Manage Your Time During the Work Day
If you are now raising planned gifts from home, you may be struggling with efficiently managing your time. Have you found yourself bombarded with emails, meetings, appointments, phone calls, various projects and tasks? At the end of the day, you may think about the list of things you had to put off until tomorrow rather than the list of things that you accomplished.
I have often felt like there are not enough hours in a day for all my tasks. I attribute that to not having an efficient management method. I have found some tools and strategies that may help you, as they have helped me, on your path to having a successful, productive and fulfilling workday as a gift planner.
1. Find a planning system that works for you
If you like electronic organizing strategies, there are a variety of apps that assist with setting donor virtual appointments, scheduling organizational meetings, setting aside blocks of 30 minutes to an hour at different periods of the day to work on specific tasks or projects with no interruptions or detours. If you like having a hard copy planner, finding a planner with a monthly outlook and a daily schedule will allow you to view the month at a glance, as well as, plan your donor meetings, your goals and “moves,” tasks and projects. Save your most productive time blocks for important tasks.
2. Create a To Do list & prioritize the list
Make a list of all of your donor appointments, calls and everything else that you need to work on that day. Once you have your list of things to work on, prioritize that list by numbering the tasks in order of urgency.
3. Input the list into your planner
Schedule your most urgent tasks or projects (like finalizing a donor proposal for a supporter who is ready to make the gift) during your most productive time of the day. This will allow you to focus on the task or project with the least amount of disruption.
Emails will always be in your inbox. Schedule specific times throughout the day when you answer donor emails versus emails from a colleague. Your email system will provide you a way to create folders to file emails that you need to keep, as well as, custom categories that assist in reminding you about an email. It will also allow you to flag emails that are most urgent.
5. Meetings and appointments
Block out the same time slots for your organization’s weekly meetings and donor appointments each day/week. For example, you may schedule donor calls Tuesday through Thursdays from 9 am to 10 am and 2 pm to 3 pm. In order to keep organization meetings on track and ending on time, create an agenda with the purpose, outcome, structure and timing.
6. Tasks and projects
Schedule blocks of time where you focus on time-consuming projects, such as prospect research for blended gift opportunities. This will allow you uninterrupted focus and attention on the project. Then, between meetings, appointments, phone calls and emails, fill the pockets of time to debrief the prior meeting, prepare for your next meeting or schedule an unrelated, non-time-consuming task.
7. Set a timer or alarm
To be sure you stay on track with your schedule, set a timer or alarm and don’t compromise or detour from the task or project that you scheduled for that time. Never be late to a donor meeting! Donors are giving of their time and they expect you to be respectful. When a meeting, task or project is done cross it off your To Do list or calendar.
8. Make a list
At the end of the day make a list of things that you need to continue to work on or that need to be accomplished the next day. Place them in the available timeslots in your schedule. When that task is completed, cross it off your list so that you can see what you accomplished that day.
Your days are busy. There is much to accomplish in a typical work day as a gift planner and it goes by fast. It is time to add a few minutes back into your day. Your organization and your team relies on you to be efficient and productive with your time. Being organized makes it possible for you to accomplish your work with focus, quality and a sense of accomplishment.