You’re back from holiday break and gearing up for a new year with your organization, possibly with new focus or a new phase in your strategic plan. Here are a few ideas from the RGI team on how to improve your time management so you can spend less time and energy on the day-to-day tactical needs of your association and more time on high-level strategy in 2020.
The first day RGI reopened after the holiday closure, we had a full-staff meeting where we all discussed what we hope to accomplish in the coming year. There was a wide range of ideas thrown out both professionally and personally, but roughly half of them all boil down to one central theme: time management.
1) Get Organized
If you like having a physical to-do list, this can be as simple as getting yourself a planner or notebook where you can track everything that needs to be done on a daily and/or weekly basis.
Prefer keeping everything digital? Take Outlook beyond tracking your meetings and appointments by utilizing the Daily Tasks function. You may even try a third-party platform like YouCanBook.Me to track all of your meetings across multiple clients and even your personal appointments. Time management begins with getting organized.
2) Manage Interruptions
Nothing you do as an association executive is life-and-death. Turn off those email notifications so you can focus on the task at hand for 15, 20, 30, 60 minutes and make solid progress on it. Any email you get in that time will still be in your inbox when you wrap up that time block and check your email again.
3) Prioritize the Important, not just the Urgent
We all have that wish list of pet projects we would love to get to if we just had the time. This year, make it a priority to get to that wish list more often. Stop letting the fires of urgency that pop up every day distract you from your passion for the important. Make time for at least one item on that list every week.
4) Learn to say ‘no’
Being mission-minded means many association executives struggle with saying “no.” You may have had a motivational speaker or other lecturer talk about the first rule of improv, which is “yes, and” meaning you should start from a place of positivity and a mindset of doing what you can to make something happen (“yes” instead of “no”) while also adding your own contribution to the effort (“and” instead of a period after someone else’s idea).
There is absolutely truth to this, but the resource that may be the most finite even in the association and nonprofit worlds is time. No matter how much you care or how hard you work, there are only 24 hours in a day. That means any time you say “yes” to something, you’re saying “no” to something else whether you intend to or not. In 2020, commit to delegating more of the tactical tasks to your staff so you can dedicate more of your own time to strategizing what will provide the most member benefit.
5) Professional Development
Don’t get so focused on your day-to-day work that you don’t continue to push yourself to grow in your own skillset. Set aside some time to stay on top of the latest tricks and tips by pushing yourself with continuing education, whether that’s a new credential or a one-time lunch-and-learn.
6) Work-Life Balance
You’re no good to anyone if you burn out. Make sure you’re balancing yourself out and cultivating your personal life just as much as your professional life. Join a gym, go on a hike to enjoy nature, play some board games – whatever helps you unwind and stay in touch with the world outside the office.