Getting Time On Your Side

Time. It is the one thing that always seems to get away from us. We need to do X, but get too busy doing Y. We think we’ll accomplish A, but never seem to find a moment to get to it. We are too busy, too frantic, too overwhelmed. I know. I’ve been there.

Not too long ago, I realized that some things on my “to do” list never moved of. I wasn’t getting to some truly important things, and those that seem important (yet) were being ignored completely.

That made me crazy. All right. Crazier. I started feeling overwhelmed; out-of-control; non-productive.

First my friend Carol Hass, a truly gifted facilitator and grant-writer, told me about the monthly agendas she creates for each of her clients. I’m not proud—why re-invent the wheel when you can use something already developed? On a monthly basis, I know consider what outcomes I need to have for each client, and how we are going to get there.

But often, my clients are also too busy and getting to the next step seemed to take forever. I thought of how if I don’t put something on my calendar, too often it doesn’t get done. And so I decided that I had to make sure that I was on my clients’ calendars on a regular schedule. Now I have “time specifics” for each client when we get together—either in their office or when necessary via phone. The frequency and duration of those times varies with the contract, but they are specific and help both of us plan better and accomplish much, much more.

Yes, the “every Tuesday at 8:00-9:30 am” gets canceled or changed from time to time, but having the time calendared ensures that we are never too busy to accomplish the work we agreed need to get accomplished. Best of all, my stress levels went way down while my productivity moved way up.

What are the things you are not getting around to? The things you need to do but just don’t seem to do? How can you best get a handle on them?

First consider what outcomes you need to accomplish this month. Note that in fundraising especially, the monthly outcomes may never change. For example, if major gifts are part of your portfolio, you may need to identify and/or qualify a certain number of bona fide major donor prospects every month, or cultivate another number of already identified prospects. How you reach those outcomes may vary—and that’s what you need to review each month.

Once you are clear what you have to do, make sure you have a time specific on your calendar for the actions to be taken. Again, some will be carryovers month after month, but it is a good thing to review and ensure that you are doing the right things.

Some actions can’t be calendared in before hand. Appointments with major gift prospects may be more dependent on their calendar than yours, but you would know when each week you are first attempting to reach a prospect, and when your second and perhaps third attempts will occur.

If you do schedule as many development actions as possible, you will find that time will be on your side and you’ll never to too busy to fundraise.

Janet Levine is a consultant and trainer who works with nonprofits and educational organizations, helping them to improve their fundraising capacity. Check out her services and workshops at


About janetlevineconsulting

For over 20 years, Janet Levine has worked for and with nonprofit and educational organizations, helping to grow their advancement programs. Her consulting company, Janet Levine Consulting, serves a wide range of organizations from small, all-volunteer agencies to major national organizations. She regularly teaches courses in non-profit management, fundraising and grant development, both face-to-face and online at In addition to her nonprofit work, Janet brings years of experience as a business and sales manager in the for-profit sector. She has an MBA from the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University.
This entry was posted in business practices, development, fundraising, planning, problem solving, productivity, time management and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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