As a woman leading in the nonprofit sector, I know your days are filled with endless meetings, tight deadlines, and a never-ending to-do list. I've been there, and I know it's not always easy to stay motivated and positive when facing these challenges.
When I get behind, I get irritable 😤 Any interruptions will annoy the crap out of me. The thing is, not only do I get short with others, but I also beat myself up.
The impact of less-than-productive days
You, too, likely feel irritated on less-than-productive days. You also know the consequences of how an unproductive day can spill into your evening. Being short with your staff is certainly not optimal, but a cutting remark with your child can leave you feeling inept in the parenting department.
I'd had enough of it!
This all-too-familiar cycle was the norm for me for years. The more determined I got in the last few years to do meaningful work, the more necessary it became to be productive. Changing a few things has made an incredible difference for me. I still have less productive times, but they are fewer and farther between. I end most weeks ticking everything off of my weekly list.
When you decide it's time to be more productive...this ↓
✅ Being more productive will help you take that weekly and daily to-do list and get them done. That way, you can shut off at the end of the day, knowing you completed what was needed.
✅ Being productive at work frees up your mind and energy to shift into the rest of your life. Feeling upbeat when you come home at the end of your workday results in a much more enjoyable evening with your loved ones!
Let's dive into the three powerful productivity hacks that enhance efficiency and boost mood👇🏻
3 Productivity Hacks for Leaders
that are Guaranteed to Boost Your Mood
1 - Prioritize Self-Care
As a dedicated nonprofit leader, it's natural to put others before yourself.
However, taking care of your well-being is essential for maintaining a positive mindset and achieving productivity because:
👉🏻 It's hard to focus when you are hangry.
👉🏻 It will take you way longer to create the document when you haven't left your desk for 3 hours straight.
👉🏻 You'll find burnout knocking at your door if you don't take proper care of yourself.
If you neglect self-care, you're more likely to be unproductive, experience heightened stress levels, and eventually face burnout, just like my client Nancy.
🙋🏻♀️ Nancy was neglecting her physical and mental well-being, feeling exhausted, and struggling to be productive.
Nancy started with wanting to carve out time each day for self-care activities that rejuvenate her, like a morning meditation or an evening walk with the dogs, but she didn't always have the motivation to do that. Many of my clients have high aspirations like this but struggle to get there. To get moving in the right direction, I encourage them, like I encouraged Nancy, to start small and work to add micro-moments of wellness throughout her day.
WHAT WORKED FOR NANCY
Nancy began working through the course Wellness AT Work and learned how to add micro-moments of wellness into her work day. She immediately found she was feeling healthier and more productive!
👉🏻 DO THIS: Add micro-moments of wellness into your day
Think about what you can do in one minute or less:
Learn more about the Wellness AT Work COURSE
2 - Master Time Management
As a nonprofit leader, learning effective time management is a game-changer. Learning to manage your energy and priorities helps you have increased productivity and allows you to maintain a positive outlook.
Here are the basics:
✔️ Take time to plan your week, determining the top projects and tasks needing to be done.
✔️ Break your projects into tasks which makes them more manageable.
✔️ Each day, identify your top priorities for the day
✔️ Create time blocks in your calendar to work on allocating tasks
✔️ Embrace technology tools such as task management apps, calendars, and reminders to stay organized and on track.
By maximizing your time and staying focused, you'll accomplish more while reducing stress, undoubtedly boosting your mood.
However, time management strategies alone won't be the simple answer.
🤔 You'll also need to manage what's happening in your head when you think about those tasks.
❗️ Just because you put "performance review" on your agenda
doesn't mean you'll eagerly jump into it at the allotted time.
If you are uncomfortable with conflict and know this review will be challenging, you may put it off unconsciously. Seeing it pop up on your list week after week requires you to start looking at the unconscious thoughts getting in the way.
🙋🏼♀️ SASHA'S STORY
Sasha knew that she was struggling with more than time management.
WHAT WORKED FOR SASHA
For example, Sasha kept putting off the annual report. It had been on her list for a month, and now the pressure was on to finish it. As she worked through the exercises...
💡 These two insights helped Sasha add some client stories to the report and ask for help with the software. She then reengaged in the task and completed it on time with a sense of pride rather than frustration.
👉🏻 DO THIS: Master your inner critic
Work through The Emotions of Time Management to help you apply the time management strategies despite your sabotaging thoughts.
Learn more about The Emotions of Time Management COURSE
3 - Make the best use of your productive times
🙋🏼♀️ MY STORY
A few years ago, I took a deep dive into productivity. As an overachiever with high expectations of myself,
🟦 Identify your most productive times
🟦 During peak times, do the projects needing intense focus
What are the things that require a level of diligence and focus?
reading over and digesting a report
WHAT WORKED FOR ME
🟦 Use your willpower wisely
Willpower is the age-old skill of self-control, restraint, strength, and determination. Willpower happens in your head.
🗣️ Our mind chatter tries to get us to avoid pain.
🗣️ That inner dialogue suggests to us, subconsciously, that doing a particular project on our to-do list hurts.
🗣️ Our inner voice says that if we do the task in front of us, it will be painful, hard or troublesome.
So instead, that little gremlin 🗣️ inside suggests we check email again, move to a different project or head to Tik Tok, LinkedIn, or your favourite social media newsfeed.
👉🏻 DO THIS: Learn to manage your willpower
Honestly, learning about willpower helped me the most with productivity. It takes resolve to push past that and get to work, especially agonizing jobs. To stay on task, get done the important work and leave feeling productive at the end of your day, you must activate your willpower. Start by:
✅ Understanding what willpower is and what it isn't
✅ Learning how to stop depleting your willpower unnecessarily.
✅ Learning how to get more willpower quickly when you need it most.
I took what I learned and put it into the course Willpower Essentials: Getting Done What Matters Most
Learn more about the Willpower Essentials COURSE
Remember, boosting your mood and enhancing your efficiency go hand in hand. Prioritize self-care, master time management, and learn to manage your willpower, and you'll find yourself accomplishing more while enjoying the journey.
Here is the thing, as a leader, you can inspire other women leaders in the nonprofit sector with your positive energy that will undoubtedly create a ripple effect within your organization and community. The choice is yours!
You may have noticed that I linked three different courses above. All of them are instantly accessible to you, plus many, many more, when you join The Training Library for $19.97/month.
🤔 How much do you pay for your Prime, Netflix, Google or Apple membership?
Is your growth and development (also your sanity) not worth that much too?
Joining The Training Library gives you the tools to lead and live your best. I hope I'll see you in there soon!
Are you a nonprofit leader who finds you intend to get a lot done each week but mournfully realize that when Friday hits, you've barely touched your to-do list? 😒
Instead, you accomplished a lot of things that other people added to your to-do list. While reacting to everyone else's demands, you didn't complete the assignments you wanted to work on. Miserably, you note that some of the unfinished items on your list were crucial tasks to move important projects forward that were truly important to you and your team.
Trust me. You are not the only one who feels like this at the end of your week.
Too much REACTING rather than responding
Leaders spend more time acting on requests from others than completing their own priority tasks. The urgency to solve everyone else's problems leaves a manager feeling like they spend their days chasing fires and never getting anywhere 😫
If you want to get off that hamster wheel and do more of your essential work, you must be more intentional about what you do with your time rather than reactionary.
⭐️ It is critical to begin with planning
You must start each week by planning your week. Before you get caught up in chasing everybody else's plans and agenda for you, you must reorient yourself to what are priorities for you. By setting aside time each week to lay out what you want your week to look like, you will have better control over what happens 👏🏻
You must get perspective 👀
Weekly planning sessions allow you to pull your head out of the sand. While putting your head down and getting work done at times is crucial, a leader's critical function is to lift their head (and their organization's head) and get a bigger picture view repeatedly. Weekly planning time is this head-up, expansive view of the bigger picture. This time allows the leader to put things into perspective for them and their organization.
You need to refocus your time and priorities
Weekly planning allows you to get projects, plans, and tasks into focus again. From this outlook, you can choose how to respond to your week rather than frantically reacting to whatever shows up in your inbox, at your door or desk. Creating a habit of weekly planning puts you back in control and moving forward rather than running around and around 🙌🏻
3 Steps to Creating a Weekly Planning Habit
1️⃣ Schedule a weekly time slot into your agenda
First, set aside time each week to do your planning. Schedule it into your agenda and stick to it. You will need 20 minutes to an hour, depending on your responsibility level and style.
Find a time that works best for you.
Set clear boundaries
❌ Do NOT book anything else in that slot.
2️⃣ Develop a list of action items for the week
A) Review annual goals
📝 Write those down as action items.
Your company is looking at reducing short-term disability. Perhaps you need to schedule a meeting with the working group for the short-term disability strategy.
B) Review quarterly projects
Next, look at the quarterly projects you have on the go.
Where are you at with each of those?
What needs to be done to move the project forward?
📝 Write those down as action items.
If you are planning your annual staff retreat, you might have to research venues.
C) Review last week's meetings
Look at the previous week's schedule and identify items needing carrying forward into this week.
📝 Write those down as action items.
You may have met with someone and meant to connect them to another person. Note the need to send a connecting email to the two on your to-do list.
D) Review your upcoming appointments
Finally, look at the upcoming week. Review your meetings that are coming up and conversations that need to happen. Once again, continue adding to your to-do list.
📝 Write those down as action items.
If you have a staff meeting on Thursday, you may need to compile the agenda to send out to the attendees.
Dealing with the big list of items ✅ ✅ ✅
You should now have a list of things you want to tackle in the upcoming week. For some of you, this feels overwhelming. For others, it might be refreshing. One way to look at it is that you now have everything out of your brain and in one place. There will be less chance of forgetting or losing things in the shuffle.
Dumping everything onto this list, from this big-picture perspective, is, in itself, helpful.
3️⃣ Creating your plan
From this list of action items, create your plan for the week.
Make weekly planning your priority
Setting aside time to plan your week puts you on track to having a more productive week. Choose when you want to do this, then schedule planning time weekly into your agenda. Review your annual goals, quarterly projects, the previous week's appointments, and the upcoming week's schedule during the identified time.
☑️ From this analysis, list tasks you want to accomplish.
But it won't work 🤦🏼♀️
If you read this and thought, that's lovely, but it doesn't work that way in the real world, I'm with you 💯
Even with the best of intentions, things have a way of getting in the way 😕
But is it things...or yourself?
In The Emotions of Time Management course, you'll learn why those strategies alone won't work for you.
✔️ We'll uncover the emotions that hold you back and help you make those strategies work for your unique situation.
✔️ You'll discover how to overcome hidden commitments that get in the way of getting done what matters most so that you can get done what matters most.
Learn more about The Emotions of Time Management here.
You can do this! 🙌🏻
You can get more organized, on top of things and get done what matters most. However, it will take a bit of intentional digging into what gets in your way, and that's often what's happening inside you. Thus, you must do the inner work!
Start with the system, then notice what gets in the way of the system working. That's where The Emotions of Time Management come into play. It's the inner work you must do to be the best leader you can be!
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