OK, so you have a pile of stuff to do and hardly any time to do it all. How do you manage it?
It’s always good to stop and reflect on this point. You can be so busy DOING that you don’t stop to evaluate HOW you are doing it.
And here’s the problem. If you don’t stop and check on yourself regularly on this point you will wander into inefficiency. It’s the law of entropy. Left alone, things will degrade – they’ll move from order to disorder. So, stop and look at how you manage your work. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- How do I decide what has priority every day? This is about managing your time. Boring, I know, but critical to your success. I think at least once a month you should make a list of no more than 5 categories of work that you do in your job, then prioritize them against what you know your boss expects you to deliver. Are they in the right order? If not, change them. And do not allow personal preference to dictate the order. In major gifts, I would say your priorities are:
- Retaining the donors on your caseload.
- Fulfilling their interests and passions through their giving.
- Upgrading them when possible.
- Staying in touch with program and the need your organization is addressing.
- Doing the admin stuff
I can’t imagine anything more important than this list of work categories. If you can, let me know. But, let’s assume this is your list in the order in which I have prioritized them. If you paste this list in front of your eyeballs, where you can see it every day, it will govern what you are doing on a daily basis.
2.How did I manage my priorities last month? Once a month it is important to go to a quiet place, without interruptions, look at your calendar and to-do list and see how you did against the priorities you set. I do this EVERY month. Why? So I can catch myself getting off track, which I do every single month. And I tend to get off track by doing things I like to do rather than the things I should be doing. Make yourself look back so that you can inform your future and correct the tendency to do what you want to do vs. what you should do.
3. What should my day look like? Well, if your first priority is the donors on your caseload (the first three categories of work), then you had better be about doing that work: meeting with donors, scheduling calls, reporting back on how their giving made a difference, writing up a strategy, etc. The majority of your day should be about what you are doing with your donors. Watch out that you are not sucked into the office magnet that will draw you into a thousand meetings and encounters that really do not have anything to do with your donors.
4. Remember that an MGO’s daily schedule is often not during regular working hours. Much to our surprise, Jeff and I encounter many MGO’s who do not understand this point. This work does require some evening and weekend calls and meetings. That’s just how it is. We wrap our schedules around the donor, NOT the other way around. So, as you are managing your time, keep this in mind. And hopefully, you have a boss who understands that the shifting of work times is legitimate to accommodate this dynamic.
This whole area of managing your time, scheduling calls and meetings and prioritizing tasks and donor contact are critical for your success. If you do it poorly you will fail. Jeff and I see so many very talented people in this business who fail right at this point. They just cannot manage a list priorities. So they flail around doing a lot of good things that get them nowhere.
For the MGO, the whole “managing your work” bit boils down to three things:
- The donors on your caseload.
- Program and meeting needs.
- The administrative stuff.
Keep this in mind as you do your work. Clean out all the other stuff. Discipline your desires and wants so they stop governing what you do and you can get about doing what you should do instead. And calendar yourself right now to check on how you are doing every month.
Believe me, this will be good for YOU, the donors you serve and the good organization you work for.