Time Management Nonprofit Style

Table Clock and Case by Georg Metzner Copyright LACMA

The Clock is Ticking! Table Clock and Case by Georg Metzner Copyright LACMA

Too much work, not enough time

It’s a common complaint in nonprofit organizations due to a combination of having too little money, too few staff people, and too much need in the community that can prove deadly to nonprofits. While the corporate world may look to expensive time management consultants, nonprofits usually adopt a sink or swim approach as they do to so many things.

I’m lucky that the nonprofit I work for is very conscious of the need to manage time. With a staff of two, we don’t have the option of being disorganized. So here are a few ways that the Xico staff cope with time management:

1. Prioritize: It sounds simple, just do the important stuff first. But that can be hard when that means setting aside the fun stuff to do boring paperwork. Prioritizing may also mean that some things on the bottom of the to do list just don’t get done. As long as those things aren’t critical to your organization’s operations or mission, letting them go may be the best thing you can do.

2. Be Proactive, Not Reactive: Just because a deadline is a week away doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t already be working on it. Start early, use downtime to work on the projects that are usually not a priority, and have some idea of what is coming up in the near future. This allows for calm and careful planning instead of screaming panic.

3. Write everything down: Just making plans is not enough, you have to follow through on them. Writing down ideas, appointments, and other information is the only way I can remember it all. I use calendars, to do lists, mind maps, anything that will get my thoughts out of my head and into some kind of record.