Many of you are approaching the end of your fiscal year. The rest of us often experience a bit of a lull during the summer. (But the work seems to increase every year, doesn’t it?)

How are you going to spend the “down-time”? Author Robert W. Bly has a terrific list of “time fillers” in his book “Fool Proof Marketing.” Here’s the list with my comments.

  1. Do pro-bono work. Bly’s writing for consultants but this can apply to us as well. I find people are much more interested in learning about my cause when they know I give my time, talent, and treasure to other causes.
  2. If you work for yourself and things are slow, take a part-time job. Enough said.
  3. Teach. This can be a lot of fun, a great way to give back to your community, and a way to make a little money too. In Hebrew, the word for “teach” is an intensified form of the word “to learn.” Teaching a subject, any subject, forces us to learn it even more.
  4. Learn a new piece of software. Most of us only know enough about our software to simply get by. Many community colleges offer courses in Microsoft programs. Many vendors offer classes too. Time spent learning your programs can teach you shortcuts that will save you significant time in the future.
  5. Clean out your files. All year you’ve been saying, “When I have time, I’m going to clean this up a bit.” Why not do it now?
  6. Organize your office. Same as above.
  7. Spend more time on each project. Do you have projects that get the short end of your time stick during the rest of the year. Now may be a great time to give them more time. I like drafting the year’s worth of annual fund letters now too.
  8. Read. And read. And read. Even though I read 75+ books a year, even I find this hard to do. What will people think if they come to my office and see me reading? Honestly, it really doesn’t matter. The books and magazines you read on fundraising, marketing, self-help, etc. will help you be exponentially better at your job. You owe it to yourself to schedule in reading time this summer. If you need some ideas of what to read, check out the things I’ve written that are available at The Fundraising Coach Store.
  9. Take a course. There are loads of great courses out there. Many are available digitally, so you can take them when it’s convenient for you. Check out CharityUniveristy.com and the programs available at The Fundraising Coach Store.
  10. Be social with colleagues. Our network of colleagues is one of the greatest assetts we have. These are the people we go to when our bosses or board members or donors ask us questions we don’t have answers too. Now could be a great time to participate with colleagues and develop relationships on email lists like CharityChannel.com or on social networking sites like LinkedIn.com. (Feel free to add me to your network! My LinkedIn profile is http://www.linkedin.com/in/marcapitman.)
  11. Do something nice for yourself. This is so important. If you’re like me, most of the time, you ride yourself really hard. You feel you need to do more, produce more, be more productive. Why not consider taking an hour to savor a cup of coffee or to walk on a rail trail or to pray?

This can also be a great time to dream about next year and to set goals. People are finding my MagnetGoals system to be incredibly helpful. The workbook with the process, blank worksheets, and even a step-by-step guide to mapping out each goal, is available in The Fundraising Coach Store.

Feel free to let me know what you’re committing to this summer!

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