Where Does the Time Go?

Here is an oft-heard development officer lament: “I don’t have the time to          (fill in the blank – make calls, visit my prospects, track my proposals, etc.).”

This lament raises the question: what are you doing with your time?

If you are struggling with setting priorities and taking action on those priorities, then it is a good time to take a step back and give a critical eye to what you spend time doing. How much time are you devoting to prospect calls versus administrative tasks and internal meetings? Assess whether your time is spent in moving you toward completing your fundraising goals. Here are some tips that help:

Track Your Time

In college I worked for a CPA firm and had to account for every minute of every day so the firm could bill time to clients. When you are parsing your day you quickly discern your productivity.

There are software programs and apps available that can help you track exactly what you’re doing throughout the day. Rescue Time tracks everything you do on your computer and helps you spot inefficiencies. They offer a free version as well as monthly subscription for a more robust version.

You can always set up your own manual time management process (like I did 30 years ago at the CPA firm).

Avoid Distractions

Pay attention to what distracts you from your “to do” list (assuming of course that you have a master to do list for the day. If you don’t, start there.) Track what you do in chunks of time (for example 20 minutes answering email, 30 minutes visiting with a donor, 1 hour internal meeting) for a week and then evaluate the results.

You will be amazed at how much extra time you find. Once aware, you can align your activities to more effectively accomplish your fundraising priorities.