Archive | July, 2011

Recap: Beating the Time Suck

29 Jul

Friday, July 29, 2011

If you subscribe to or have been following my Twitter and Facebook feeds this week, you will have seen that I’ve been posting valuable tips for saving time in order to ultimately be more efficient. These tips can cross over from your personal life into your business life and beyond. Below is a recap and elaboration of each tip. 

Tip #1: Set attainable tasks.
If you are like me, you set a task list every day/week. A lot of times, I don’t get to check items off the list. Sometimes, that’s because I’ve set myself up for failure by setting tasks that aren’t attainable. How can I help myself? Break down large or difficult tasks into more bearable, smaller ones. That way you can tackle the project as a whole more efficiently. 

Tip #2: Don’t hesitate to delegate tasks, but be reasonable.
Delegating can be really useful. Maybe you’re someone who likes to do things themselves (ahem…a.k.a. “likes to be in control”) or just feels uncomfortable asking for help. Either way, you might find that by delegating, because you’re in a supervisor role, or asking for help from a colleague can help you check tasks off your ever-expanding list. 

Tip #3: Set aside a few minutes every day to get organized.
It can be first thing in the morning or right before your leave work for the day, but make a conscious effort to get organized. Or get organized as you go. Papers have a way of disappearing and things don’t always get back to the place where they came from. Specifically committing to organization will prevent these things from happening…or at least keep them to a minimum. No one’s perfect, right?

Tip #4: Multitasking = chaos.
I always used to say that I was a great multitasker. I think my husband would disagree, and I may have to agree with him. Instead of doing a really great and accurate job on one project, instead I’ve created chaos and accomplished very little, very poorly of numerous tasks. That doesn’t sound streamlined, does it? Instead, I’ve really started to prioritize my work and concentrate on one project at a time, giving it my full, undivided attention. And you know what I’ve found? The quality of my work increases! 

Tip #5: Resist the urge to check Facebook/Twitter/Linked In/Google/e-mail, etc. constantly.
I heard someone say ,”Make a social media budget.” I love it! Set aside a specific block of time in the morning and in the afternoon to do your social media scouring…unless of course, this is your job description! It’s important to stay within your allotted time so that you aren’t falling back into your endless routine. I know social media can suck you in – we’re curious. We want to know what everyone else is up to. However, by wasting mindless hours being nosy, we’re losing valuable time and efficiency on work that really matters. 

“Time is more valuable than money, you can get more money,
but you can not get more time.” – Jim Rohn.

Tip #6: It’s ok to say “no”.
This is self-explanatory. You’re a good person; you want to help out. But by always helping someone else, you may be neglecting important things that you have to do. Sometimes, you just have to apologize graciously and decline. It’s perfectly acceptable and the other person will likely understand your time constraints.   

Tip #7: Before leaving your desk for the day, prepare it for the next morning.
I love this idea. Wouldn’t it be awesome to walk into your office/cubicle [insert appropriate office space here] in the morning and find everything in order and ready to go? Well, if you take 5 or 10 minutes the night before to organize your work and tasks for the next day, you can make that dream come true! Set aside your important work for the following day coordinating with your task list. Put away projects that are on hold. You can even leave yourself a little treat to start the day off right. Chocolate anyone? Leave your work space in a way that is calming and inviting for the following day and see how much less stressed you feel the next morning. 

Tip #8: Commit to doing difficult tasks during your most productive time.
Maybe you’re a morning person and your peak time is in the morning. Set aside an hour or two in the morning to do the tasks that maybe aren’t your favorite or that will require a great deal of concentration so that when the afternoon slump hits, you will feel accomplished. On the other hand, maybe by 11:00 (or even later for some people) you’ve started feeling human again. After your 10 cups of super-caffeinated, dark roast breakfast blend coffee, start in on your least favorite assignments. Because you’ve (most likely) hit your peak time, you’ll be able to fulfill more of your responsibilities and with higher quality.

Tip #9: It sounds counterintuitive, but schedule time for rest.
Have you ever realized how much more productive you are after you’ve taken even a 10 minute break to relax or refresh? Taking your mind off a stressful task (or any long task) for a short period of time gives your brain and body a well-deserved rest. Leave your desk and stop thinking about work altogether. Maybe you have time for a quick walk around the office park. Take a few minutes for you, for your mental health. You’ll come back to your desk feeling refreshed. Note: Don’t take any longer than 10 minutes or you’ll probably lose all energy for work!

Tip #10: Instead of doing several small trips, combine them into one large trip.
Not only does this save time, but money as well, in terms of the sky-rocketing gas prices. If it helps, map it out the details of your route ahead of time. This way you’ll stick to your plan and maybe even have some time to spare.

Tip #11: When scheduling meetings, ask yourself if they are truly necessary or if you can get done what you need to with an e-mail.
Think about how much time is wasted waiting for everyone to show up for the meeting, getting coffee, then doing your greeting, answering questions, etc. Could you have just asked your questions in an e-mail or a quick drop-by your colleague’s office? If you indeed must hold a meeting, make a precise and clear agenda and stick to it! Make sure by the end you have made a clear decision to prevent you from having to schedule additional meetings. 

—-

“An average interruption time of 5 minutes – equates to about 4 hours – or 50% of your productive time being wasted by interruptions.”
“Once interrupted, it can take 20 minutes to get back to the level of concentration you were at prior to the disruption.”   results.com

Have a wonderful weekend!

~Laura~

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What Have You Done To Thank Your Donors Today?

19 Jul

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Donors are the lifeblood of the non-profit world. Lets be honest, how much of the budget is devoted to fundraising? Most likely a large majority. And like all non-profits, you depend on your donors to propagate your cause. So how do you say “thank you” to these people, most of whom you’ve probably never met?? A “thank you” can be the simplest form of public relations.

1. Donor recognition events – If possible, host a small recognition event highlighting donor accomplishments. Showing donors how their dollars specifically went to mission-fulfillment gives them even more incentive to donate again by giving them ownership of the process.

2. Thank you e-mails/personalized notes – What ever happened to the simple thank you note? My mom always taught me that when someone gives you a gift or does something for you, that it’s just common courtesy to send a personalized thank you. I have since taken this with me into the business world where it has had amazing effects. It’s a simple gesture that shows people you appreciate what they’ve done by acknowledging their contribution. Why would anyone bother donating to a cause if they never hear from them again? I know I wouldn’t. 

3. Branded tchotchke – Gifts are easy ways to say thank you. And what better gifts are there than branded promotional items which also function as reminders of your cause? Have t-shirts, water bottles, calendars or note pads printed with your logo and tag line to send to donors as a small token of gratitude. They’ll appreciate the gesture…especially if the gift is something useful.

4. A video – I just read a blog post where a reader shared a “thank you video”. What a great and creative way to say thank you. Not only is it thoughtful, but it’s personalized and customized to your donors. Send it in an e-mail, post it on your Facebook page or host a small presentation, but either way, it’s an excellent idea!!

It comes down to expressing gratitude. If your donors know how grateful you are for their contribution, even in small ways, they are more likely to support your cause in the future.

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