I know quite a few nonprofit people who are virtually slaves. I'm not talking about their salaries. I'm talking about their lack of control over what they spend their time doing.
They spend their time in a perpetual tail-chasing struggle to keep up with the urgent, day-to-day stuff that fills their life. So much so, that they rarely do anything important. The cost of this -- personally and to their organizations -- is huge.
(I'm sure this problem is common everywhere, but it seems much worse in the nonprofit sector. Our tendency to be understaffed is probably part of the cause.)
Here's how to break free: Use the "Eisenhower Matrix," reportedly developed by President Eisenhower as a time management tool:
Gaining control of which quadrants you spend your time is the secret:
- Important and urgent. Emergencies and other non-negotiables that you must deal with now. This quadrant takes care of itself.
- Important and not urgent. Things like planning, thinking, and personal development. This is where the magic happens, where you achieve greatness. It's also the area you are most likely to neglect, mainly because of quadrant #3...
- Urgent and not important. Emails, phone calls, fake emergencies. These things are killing you. You have to learn to say no or not now -- or find a way to delegate them to others.
- Not important and not urgent.
Getting control of your time so you spend more in quadrant #2 and less in quadrant #3 is the secret to success. In fundraising and in life.