Here’s a timely list of comments many of us use every day. Sound familiar?

  • I don’t have the time.
  • I need more time!
  • Where does the time go?
  • Time flies when you’re having fun.
  • There’s just not enough time in the day!
  • It’s just not the right time.
  • I don’t have time for such nonsense.
  • I wish I had the time to read a book.  (Or watch a movie.  Or go to the gym.  Or play with my kids.)
  • Well, I guess I’ll just have to make the time.
  • This is a complete and total waste of time.
  • You can’t make up for lost time.
  • I’m making incredible time! (Typically expressed when traveling a long distance by car.)
  • We need to buy ourselves a little time.
  • There’s no time like the present.
  • Time and tide wait for no man.
  • Say, do you have some time to talk?
  • I’m just killing some time.

There are sure a lot of expressions about time, aren’t there?  I don’t have an original, pithy saying like the ones above, but let me share a few observations I’ve picked up about time after 39 years in the fundraising business:

  1. The Pareto Principle still applies.  80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your efforts.  This does assume that you and your team are focused and stay focused on the right stuff.  Google “Eisenhower Matrix” and let it be your guide.
  • By definition, you can only have one single priority.  If you have more than one of those, what you really have is a to do list.  The secret to time well spent is identifying the one tru priority in the list and focusing your efforts there—suddenly the entire list becomes shorter and less daunting.
  • Can you justify your salary on a day-to-day basis?  If you make $100,000/year, work 50 weeks/year, and put in 40 hours/week, your per hour rate is $50.  If you work an 8-hour day, and are responsible for raising money, do you generate $400/day?  If you do that, over the course of a full year, your association or society will break even on you.  But the job of a frontline development office is to do more than break even.  So, the question is this: What will you do with your time to generate 2x, 5x, or 10x of your employer’s investment in you over the course of a year?

I will suggest that elimination or reduction of lower-level administrative tasks should be a starting point.  If you are getting paid to build relationships, then that is what you should be doing.  You should not be manipulating Excel spreadsheets, generating generic acknowledgement letters, or managing the logistics for your annual meeting or golf outing.  (Yikes!)

  • Here’s an oldie but a goodie.  Knock out the most difficult or the least enjoyable task (related to you number 1 priority, of course) early in the day.  (Slight amendment: With so many of us working from home now, knock it out during your daily “prime time” window.)
  • Spend at least one hour a week alone.  Take time to think, plan, assess, and reflect.  Build it into your weekly schedule.  Developing this habit will give you amazing clarity as to what is important and in turn, how and where you should focus your time.

I’ll leave you with two great quotes about time.  Internalize them by printing them out. Then tape one to the mirror in your bathroom and the other right above the computer monitor in your office.

“Time management is an oxymoron.  Time is beyond our control and the clock keeps ticking regardless of how we lead our lives.  Priority management is the answer to maximizing the time we have.”—John C. Maxwell

AND

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time.  You have exactly the same number of hours in day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”—H. Jackson Brown

Principal, Consultants in Philanthropy

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