Or how to answer the question “What do you do with your time?”

In the last couple weeks, I’ve found myself sharing a tool with each of my private coaching clients. So I thought I’d share it with you too!

As a fundraiser, I know that I’m raising money most effectively when I’m not at my desk. But when I was running a hospital fundraising shop, I was the only employee that was doing his job by not being in his office. So I wanted to figure a way to objectively answer “What are you doing with your time anyway?”

That’s how I developed this simple tracking tool.

Tracking your week

Each week or month, I’d do a quick review of my calendar. I had multiple hats, so I created labels for each:

  • Annual Fund
  • Capital Campaign
  • Major Gifts
  • Special Events
  • Planned Giving
  • Community Relations
  • Internal Meetings

Personal Leadership - weekly time

  1. For each hour, I’d make a hash mark.
  2. Then I’d figure out the percentage. I didn’t want “hours” to be the focus. In our line of work, we can’t simply punch a clock. Some weeks we’re working 60-70 hours, some closer to 35. Hours are not nearly as important as outcomes. Keeping the statistics in percentage form helped keep the focus on the outcomes.
  3. After determining the percentages, I’d record them on an Excel spreadsheet so I had a copy on the shared drive.

Objectively identify the time sucks

Most of the categories are self-explanatory but “Community Relations” and “Internal Meetings” deserve additional explanation. The “Community Relations” category included groups where I was representing the hospital like Rotary or Chamber events. I included them because they helped me build relationships with donors and prospects.

The “Internal Meetings” were all the non-fundraising related meetings I was required to go to because I had to be “part of the team.” Clinical meetings, manager meetings, retreats, meetings at our system headquarters, etc. Those meetings were a huge time suck. I enjoyed the people I worked with and was glad to be a team player. But I knew the hospital was paying me to raise money, and these meetings weren’t helping.

This tool helped me in my personal leadership. It helped keep me accountable, making sure I was tending to things in all areas of the fundraising program. And it helped give me an answer for my CEO should he ask “What do you do with your time?”

I really wanted to free up time to dedicate to Major Gifts and Planned Giving. Those had the best return on investment but are the easiest to neglect. Annual fund and special events have urgent deadlines that drove action. But making a call to that major gift prospect could stay on my list for weeks.

What do your percentages look like?

Whether you’re the executive director doing fundraising or a fundraiser, you can’t wait for someone to make you do this. It’s your career, you need to take leadership of it. When my CEO asked how I could raise more money, I’d show him the statistics and ask to be excused from some internal meetings. Each time being a “team player” won out. But I had the tracking to show.

I also found this tool helped give me perspective. For instance, as the gala approached, it would consume my week. Looking at this tool helped me see that this happened every year. That perspective helped bring a small bit of sanity to a chaotic season.

How about you?

Do you use a tool like this? Or have you found something that helps your own personal leadership of your position? Let us know in the comments!

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