Every moment of down time in fundraising is a gift.
We often try to make up for low budgets by spending more time. However, at some point, we have to reduce the time that we spend on tasks in order to meet the increasing demands of our jobs. Or, at best, we need breathing room because no being – human or machine – can run at full speed continually.
Here are 7 suggestions for using your January downtime (or any downtime you may find throughout the year) that you may have to reduce administrivia and free up time for better work.
1. Clean off your desk.
You lose time looking for things. Having a good filing system and putting away all your stuff makes it easy to retrieve what you need while you’re dashing off to that next meeting. I have a habit of cleaning off my desk as part of my New Year preparations (I know, I’m a geek).
2. Organize your workspace to suit you.
I am left-handed, so most of the workspaces that I have been assigned to did not suit me. I moved my screen around and used the desk drawers differently from their design. It made me less irritable and more productive.
As an example, there are Shaker desks where the drawers are on the side of the desk, not on the front. They were made that way when one Shaker brother noticed his Shaker sister getting more and more cross while she was sewing because she banged her knee whenever she wanted to retrieve materials.
3. Make cheat sheets.
Though most documentation is electronic now, a printed cheat sheet in a protective sleeve saves you from having to Google what screen in SalesForce shows contact reports, for example.
4. Build group lists in your email program.
It’s annoying to lose 20 minutes to a “Why wasn’t I in on that email?” tirade. Build groups and forget about it. This preparation works especially well for me when I’m on a committee.
5. Build macros.
When you do repeated reports and you have to take several steps in Excel (or any other program), you lose time. Creating a macro in Excel, a routine in R, and a hotkey in Word all reduce typing time and errors.
6. Figure out what new reports you need.
If you regularly request the same custom report, ask your reporting team to add it to the standard report suite.
7. Learn something new.
Studying is best done in quiet offices. Ask me how I know!
I hope some of these ideas help bring new energy into your work. After all, everything you do is for a good cause – literally.
Feel free to write to me or comment below with some of your favorite shortcuts to make your fundraising year easier.