The first Nonprofit Blog Carnival of 2015 is on the theme is personal productivity. If you’re like most nonprofit folks, you’ve probably made a few New Year’s resolutions, including being more effective at your job. But maintaining productivity, especially online, can be challenging. We are living and working in a world that is connected and where sacred space and deep thinking, essential ingredients to online personal productivity and well-being, is almost becoming extinct.
What is personal productivity? It isn’t about getting a million tasks done, although checking things off a to do list is a part of it. It includes practicing and improving attention skills, using productivity tools, technology, and processes like scheduling to do lists, inbox zero, pomodoro, or 18 minutes a day, avoiding procrastination, mindfulness, stress reduction, work balance, keeping inspired, motivated, creative, and more. For me, I’m embracing walking and stillness.
How are nonprofits folks strengthening their personal productivity muscles in 2015? That was the call for blog posts. I received a rich selection covering this topic – from changing mindsets, new tool sets, and lots of tips on how to manage your social media, email, and work flow. Here’s a summary
Personal Productivity Mindsets
Several posts offered us different ways to think about personal productivity in an age of unlimited choices.
- Maura Thomas, a speaker and trainer on productivity for nonprofits and author of Personal Productivity Secrets, explains personal productivity is not time management, a 20th century idea that has outlived its usefulness in a world of email and social networks. It is all about managing your attention. Attention creates action, produces quality and facilitates productivity. What you give your attention to, is what determines your experiences. Her book provides tips on how to do this more effectively.
- John Kenyon, a nonprofit technology consultant, writes about the need for us to shift from thinking about productivity as quantity of getting things done, but to the quality of getting things done. In his post, he suggests finding ways to be more focused, consume less information and make the time spent on line more fruitful. He recommends reading The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr to better understand the impact of chronic information overload, followed by his best advice about being purposeful with your attention online.
Personal Productivity in Practice
Many of the submissions from bloggers included posts that shared their personal approaches, tips, tools, and secrets to productivity:
- Nonprofit blogger and consultant, Marion Conway, shares some gems in her blog post, “Be More Productive Online – Blue Chips and Monkeys. In a nutshell, the advice is to spend time on the important tasks first and practice good delegation skills.
- Jeff Barr, Chief Evangelist for Amazon Web Services, shares a post packed with some practical tips for personal productivity, including one tip that you don’t often see: “always be learning.” Staying curious keeps you going and avoid burnout.
- Marlene Oliveira, Copywriter and Communications Consultant, shares her secret to productivity: working in 50 minute chunks. Another excellent variation of the Pomoro Technique.
- Rob Rawson, Time Doctor, The Art of Delegation
- DH Leonard, grant writer and consultant, has discovered a productivity secret near and fear to me – movement. In her post, “A Grant Writer’s Quest to Move” she shares her two years of experience with a treadmill desk!
- Lynne Wester, fundraising consultant and author of the Donor Guru Blog, offers a post called “Ants Marching and Managing Your Workload” provides some great systems for managing projects and deadlines. I particularly like the “Heat Chart” where you color code priority tasks.
- Michaela Monahan, Big Duck blog, discusses the technique of tracking your time. The approach is less about “time is money” approach to time management, but more valuable to understand exactly you are investing your most precious resource. If you gain some self-knowledge from looking at the numbers, you more apt to chance how you spend your time and be more productive.
- Erik Anderson, Donor Dreams Blog, shares his tips for being more productive online and offline and the tools he uses.
- Jenna Quint, Community Manager at Causeview, shared this post “3 Amazing Nonprofit Management Tools“
- Lori L. Jacobwith, Firestarters, shared some really great tips about using your online calendar and Evernote
- Randy Hawthorne, Nonprofit HubPost shared his favorite productivity tool – Trello
Self-Care, Avoiding Burnout
Personal productivity is also about avoiding burnout and taking care of ourselves, something those of who work in nonprofits don’t always do well. Creating a culture where it is okay to take care of yourself and get work done, does start with leadership. Once in place, here are few more ideas:
- Claire Axelrad tells us how to avoid killing our passion for the work we do by getting away from your desk and going into the field in her post, “What Chopped Can Teach Fundraisers about Productivity and Passion“
- Rockwood Leadership Institute blog shows us how The Nonprofit Four-Day Workweek: You Can Take Care of Yourself and Still Change the World
Social Media Productivity Tips
Several bloggers and social media gurus, shared their best tips for taming the social media jungle and getting stuff done.
- Kiera Stein, Dog-Eared Social Blog, wrote about how to create your social media content strategy in one week
- Ritu Sharma, Social Media 4 Nonprofits, offers up Top Productivity Hacks for Nonprofit Social Media Professionals
- Joe Waters, Selfish Giving, writes about all the tools he uses to effortlessly and efficiently write his nonprofit blog
- Amy Devita, Third Sector Today, offers some time-saving tips for using LinkedIn for nonprofit professionals and their organizations.
- Kathie Kramer Ryan, Arroyo Fundraising Fluency, shows how to tame our email, in Is Your Inbox Taking Over the World
For me, I’m headed out for a walk, that’s how I stay productive. Walking is work. I’ll be doing a FREE webinar for Guide Star next week on healthy and productive meetings – so join me.
With all these terrific personal productivity mindsets, toolsets, and tips, we should all be ready to go out and make the world a better place and still have time to keep our passion and curiosity ignited. To make it easy to browse, I’ve organized all the posts on a list.ly – enjoy!
Marc Pittman is hosting next month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival on celebrating your nonprofit’s cause.