Managing Your Time, Energy, and Work and Still Have a Life

Managing time is not easy.  It’s a life’s work, in fact.  For those of us in the nonprofit world, and especially resource development and institutional advancement, it feels even harder.  We have a passion for the mission; we are often understaffed; and with success comes more work, not less.

How to make it all work?

  • Start with clarity of your big priorities.  What are your top three to five “buckets” of work? As a consultant mine are clear. What are yours?
    1. Respond to current clients’ needs
    2. Get my invoices in, or the team can’t get paid
    3. Stay current
    4. Market
    5. Support the work of the rest of the team
  • Check with your supervisor.  What percentage of time should you spend, ideally, on each of your big buckets?
  • Determine reality.  How much time are you spending and what is getting in the way?
  • Have a conversation about fixing the imbalance.
  • Stephen M. Covey left us all a terrific tool. Identify those daily activities that land in each of the boxes and then find ways to eliminate all of those activities in boxes C and D. Emails come to mind.  Too many meetings. Other people’s urgencies. Use the time to fit in more activities from boxes A and B


  • Learn how and when to say “no.” This is liberating and does not have to be career-limiting.  “That sounds like a good idea.  I could devote 30 minutes to it tomorrow, but today I have to take care of (fill in the agreed upon priorities).  Should we take a few minutes and brainstorm together some other ways to take care of this?”

No one has time.  We could work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and never, ever be finished.  Our responsibility, therefore, is to pick the right things to do, and the right things to let go.

follow me at @kareneosborne

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