There’s nothing quite like a capital campaign to push you to (and beyond) the edge of your organizational abilities. So if you’re getting ready for a campaign, this is a great time to ramp up your effectiveness.
I surveyed our community to find out their favorite tips for being more organized and effective. People sent me dozens of tips and life hacks they’ve found to be helpful as they move through a capital campaign.
Below you will find 43 of them organized in seven buckets. Take a look. Pick and choose what can work for you.
Favorite List-Making Tips
Many people wrote about how they use lists of various sorts and with various apps to help them become more organized and effective.
1. Make a new list every day.
Be realistic about your list making. Don’t cram too much into a single day. And be sure to build in flex-time for reflection and the unanticipated. Then get everything done.
2. Code your list with your team in mind.
Code the items on your list that enable other people on your team to get started on their projects.
3. Indicate priority.
Indicate both project priority and schedule priority on your list items.
4. Pick three.
Do your top three items first! (This popular idea has different approaches: worst first, highest priority first, etc. Do what works for you.)
5. Do small tasks in between.
Structure each day with three bigger things and then fill in the gaps with smaller tasks that you can do in between.
6. Knock off the easy stuff quickly.
Keep a running list of quick and easy to-dos that you can knock off in a hurry between meetings or phone calls.
7. Use multiple lists.
Create high-level, mid-level and detailed lists. These might correlate to monthly, weekly and daily to-do lists.
8. Stick to deadlines.
Include dates and deadlines on listed items to keep you on track.
9. Keep it simple.
Don’t try to squeeze complicated or thought-oriented tasks in between meetings or in too-short slots.
10. Color code your lists.
You can code according to project, responsible person, priority rating and time require. For some people visual cues are very helpful.
11. Keep lists front and center.
Don’t let your lists get lost in the black hole of your computer. Keep them in front of you on paper, post-its or your iPad or tablet.
Make Your Calendar Work Wonders for You
Some people use their calendars as their primary organizational system. Here are some suggestions from them about how to do that most effectively.
12. Add EVERYTHING to your calendar.
You should put everything you can on your calendar so you have just one place to go to be organized.
13. Schedule end-of-day planning.
Schedule a recurring appointment on your calendar for the last 15 minutes of every day to plan for the next day.
14. Set early deadlines.
Book big project deadlines on your calendar two days before they are actually due. That will give you extra time to review and polish your project.
15. Divvy up your week.
Divide your week into specific days dedicated to various types of work you’ve got to do. You can create quiet days for writing or days for meetings out of the office. Or you can set up special days for donor calls or work on special events.
16. Schedule organizational activities.
Block time on your calendar each week for organizing and decluttering.
17. Use reminders.
Use calendar reminders to ping you about stuff that’s got to be done, upcoming deadlines and follow-up activities.
18. Share your calendar.
Share calendars with colleagues to make scheduling meetings easier.
19. Make time for niceties.
Set aside a regular time every week to do something nice with the people you care about.
20. Schedule as you go.
As soon as something strikes you to add to your calendar, get it down. That way you can set it and forget it until the time comes to do it.
Tame Your Email Inbox
Lots of people suggested hacks for email, that ubiquitous time suck many people have trouble resisting.
21. Disable email alerts.
Turn off all email alerts that pop up on your screen.
22. Block out email time.
Only check email two or perhaps three times a day. Resist the temptation to check every ten minutes — or even every hour.
23. Mark unread follow-ups.
After you read an email that requires follow up, mark it as unread.
24. Keep your inbox clean.
Keep your inbox clean with only items that require immediate attention, archive or toss the rest.
25. Unsubscribe from lists.
Unsubscribe from ALL of your email lists (all except our list, that is!) and then resubscribe only to the ones you miss.
Live By the Clock
Some people find it helpful to track time to make them more efficient.
26. Set timers.
Clear your desk and set a timer for a particular task.
27. Try the 2-minute rule.
If it can be done in two minutes or less, do it now. If it takes longer, put it on a prioritized list.
28. Start the day with what’s important.
Use the first 30 minutes of each day to focus on stewarding 3-5 of your top tier donors or donor prospects.
29. Use time blocks.
Organize your work in time blocks and use a timer to keep you on track.
Simplify and Streamline Your Teamwork
While you’re ramping up your own efficiency, you can make your team more efficient too.
30. Use a project management program.
With a project management program, you can share deadlines, track progress and make sure that everyone is staying on deadlines without needing check-in meetings.
31. Share files.
Share files for easy editing teamwork rather than emailing documents around to your team.
32. Schedule online.
Make scheduling meetings less time consuming by getting people to give you their regular time commitments and then use an online scheduler to find out the best times.
Feed Your Spirit
More than a few people described how they nurture themselves in order to function at full efficiency.
33. Make time for nurturing activities.
Prioritize at least one thing that will feed your spirit every day.
34. Thank others.
Tell someone every day how grateful you are for what they do.
If you’re not religious, see number 38.
36. Yoga before work.
It helps focus you for the rest of the day.
37. Yoga after work.
It’ll help you let all the stress of the day go.
Meditate for no less than 20 minutes every day. Set your phone alarm and sit perfectly still while you focus on your breath.
Walk, run or bike to work… and back. If that’s not possible, take a walk on your break.
Just Do It Tips
Some people just bite the bullet…
40. Eat the frog first.
Do the things you least want to do first in the morning so you aren’t dreading them all day long.
41. Don’t procrastinate!
Don’t waste valuable mental energy putting things off. Just get stuff done.
42. Find an accountability partner.
You can set up a regular meeting — either in person or with a call to hold one another accountable.
43. Reward yourself.
Set up a system of rewards for doing what you said you would do when it was to be done.
Okay. Enough tips and tricks for getting things done. Now it’s high time to pick your favorites and get to work… after all, you have a capital campaign to conduct!
Got a favorite productivity tip? Leave a comment below.