As we all begin to focus on a new year, we tend to start thinking of everything we want to accomplish. We want to raise more money, start new projects, expand what works, and change what doesn’t. If you’re like me, that list can quickly get very long. If you find yourself hyperventilating, take some deep breaths and repeat after me:
“I can do this.”
Here’s what to do:
1. Identify the ONE thing you must accomplish before the end of the first quarter. One. Write it down, and focus your attention on reaching that goal. Create a game plan with a timeline, and block out time in your calendar — daily or weekly — to accomplish it. Every morning ask yourself, “What can I do today to help reach this goal?” Make it one of your three top priorities for each day.
2. Remove unnecessary distractions and dramatically streamline your work. Look at your calendar for the next three months and identify all the time suckers. Dramatically reduce or eliminate them. Look for half-day meetings that can be accomplished in 1-2 hours, meetings that could instead be quick phone calls, hour phone calls that could be accomplished in 15 minutes, trips that could be turned into video conference calls, internal processes that could be streamlined, events that are not critical for you to attend, and time you are spending with people you don’t really like. Focus on paring everything down.
3. Control your technology instead of letting it control you! Unless you are in the path of a hurricane, you don’t need to check FOX online every hour. Limit the time you spend checking email to twice a day, and don’t allow the beeps and alerts to go off and let you know every time “you’ve got mail” (or you’ve got a new LinkedIn connection, or someone retweeted you).
4. Get help. Delegate what you can. I once made a list of everything I was doing in my consulting work, and divided into three categories: things that bring me joy/give me energy, things I hate to do, and things I can do, but could easily be delegated. It was illuminating. I created an entire job description that delegated a large chunk of items in the last two categories, and hired a communications firm to handle it all for me. Not only did I offload all that work onto someone else, that firm is doing a better job than I ever could. You can also retain a consultant to help facilitate strategic planning, conduct research or scanning, review grant proposals and reports, or write that case study you’ve been meaning to do. A trusted advisor can serve as your sounding board to help you navigate strategic and tactical decisions you need to make as you delegate and streamline.
- things that bring me joy/give me energy,
- things I hate to do,
- and things I can do, but could easily be delegated
Once you’ve followed these steps for the first quarter of 2018, repeat them again in quarters two, three and four. You’ll not only move through the new year without added stress, but also be more productive. Just wait until you see how much you can accomplish!
About the Author: Kris Putnam-Walkerly is a global philanthropy advisor, Forbes.com contributor, and author of the award-winning book Confident Giving: Sage Advice for Funders