I discovered Entrepreneurs and Founders aren’t that different. We both have a dream and a passion to serve, we are both birthing something from that passion, and we both feel the pressure of so much we want to do. There are so many ideas and things we want to accomplish that it can be overwhelming if we let it. We are always looking for time management tips and strategies.
Nonprofit leaders are stretched and overwhelmed these days. You wear so many hats and have few people to delegate to! I know. I’ve been there. I was juggling 20 highly knowledge-specialized projects and when I wasn’t performing the way management wanted, I was labeled as “needing time management skills”. Even before that experience, I looked for time management tips and strategies. It was in my search as an entrepreneur that I found the system that I am talking about today. Having the right time management system, helps me feel more in control and focus on the projects that will move my goals forward.
My system comes from Michael Hyatt and the Full Focus Planner. You can also use a journal for the Annual and Quarterly goals. Here are my steps to more productivity:
Once a year I decide on no more than ten goals. I focus on getting six good goals- three for business and three personal. If I have ten, there are only four or five that are business goals. My business goals might be a certain level of income or to grow my email list to a certain number. Founder’s goals may be similar. Do you want to raise a certain dollar amount? Expand your donor list? Put on an event? Get grant ready? Set up a system?
My personal goals may be to read a certain number of books in the year or get personal time off. I might decide on health-related goals like walk for 30 minutes 3 days a week. Maybe I want to stop a habit. I need to make it my goal and say what I will do instead.
Once I have my big annual goals, I feel overwhelmed wondering how I’m going to get there. How do I tame the overwhelm? I do what the old saying says for how to eat an elephant- one bite at a time. I take 1-3 of my big goals and decide to focus on them for a quarter. Here I use some project management skills and break each goal into the steps it will take to reach the goal. I use the milestones as quarterly goals. I often refer to these quarterly goals as “buckets”. I write down my bucket and list at least 4 tasks that will need to be completed to complete the bucket or milestone. If I can keep the milestones to 3 (one for each month), it’s a plus. If it’s a project that will take more than a quarter to complete, I decide which quarter I will do what milestones. I write it down.
Now I have my goals for each quarter, I focus on the present. Each week, I write down the tasks I need to complete. If my quarterly goal has to be completed this quarter and my milestones are set up to achieve them in a month, I usually have 4 tasks to complete to get to the milestone. That would make one task a week. Projects are so much more manageable that way. It also really calms the overwhelm.
Weekly goals help me focus on the details of the things that will move the needle forward on my goals. They help me focus on deadlines and the tasks needed to get to my goals. I write these down every week.
Here is where the magic happens. Unfortunately, if I don’t do the higher level planning, it feels like I’m not moving forward. Also, I’ve learned if I don’t schedule it, it doesn’t exist. At the end of each day (ideally), I look at my weekly goals and what I need to do to reach the weekly goals. I pick 3 Big Goals. These goals are ones I absolutely have to complete that day to move me closer to my weekly goals. The rest are secondary tasks for the day. I can prioritize these tasks but they are not touched until the items on the Big 3 are completed. This keeps those tasks top of mind. Then, I schedule the task on my calendar.
My daily goals also include morning and evening routines. These are habits I have implemented to help me keep balanced, in control, and be able to start and end my day on a good note. I often find if something is skipped I feel off all day. So for me, my morning routine starts with a 30-minute walk listening to my favorite business or nonprofit-related podcast, writing my Big 3 in my planner for the day, and then getting ready for the day. My evening routine includes taking any meds, washing my face, and brushing my teeth. Some nights it includes a good book before bed.
How Do I Keep Up With It All?
The best way I’ve found to keep up with all the things I’ve laid out is through Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner and a digital calendar. The planner is for business owners primarily but as I’ve said there isn’t a lot of difference between Entrepreneurs and Founders. It is a system that anyone in the nonprofit world can adapt and keep up with your nonprofit and personal life. (If you’re a Founder, you probably have a third layer of a regular job, too!)
I use the calendar to schedule appointments because my husband and I share a calendar and we can easily see each other’s schedule. This has been most helpful when we are trying to schedule an appointment when we both have to be available. It also helps us plan around meals, logistics, and a whole host of other issues.
I like the Full Focus Planner because I focus on one quarter at a time. I can drill down what I need to do to make progress and avoid overwhelm. You can find out more information on the Full Focus Planner site (not an affiliate link). Once you purchase, you are emailed links to a video series where Michael Hyatt walks you through the planner and his entire process. The videos were very helpful and helped me set a system that works for me.