Ep 98 | Don't Do More Than You Have To
Managing your calendar can be stressful. And your to-do list might be growing forever long. I've mastered some organization skills with managing multiple programs, clients and marketing my business. I'm sharing with you what I do to help you get your calendar under control.
In this episode you'll learn:
→ why its important to keep you annual goals handy.
→ how to determine what activities you'll do, and what you'll let go of.
→ how to block tasks that are important and get ahead of the game.
→ how I plan my weeks.
→ tips for saying no, or maybe next week!
Want to skip ahead? Here are some key takeaways:
[4:00] It's important to think about your annual goals. Always tying your tasks back to that can help you stay on task and make it easier for you to prioritize. Then figure out what are the big things happening in your calendar that you need to be aware of when it comes to tasks. I like to block that off on my calendar so I know where the big rocks are.
[7:48] Figure out what additional tasks you'll need to do in order to meet you goals. Make sure to edit and remove things that aren't going to get you to where you're going.
[10:20] Reconsider who is doing what tasks. What are you best at and what tasks can only you do? Then it might be time to consider what tasks you can share with your team or are can you create automations in with new tools and software?
[12:48] Put like tasks together and block out time on your calendar to make it happen. When you batch tasks you can get more done in a short period of time and not have to be behind the 8-ball all the time.
[15:02] Pick a day of the week that works best for you to sit down and plan your week. Then you'll review what you have going on that week and what you'll get done to get you to you overall goals.
[18:04] Don't be afraid to say no, or I can do that tomorrow or next week. You've created all these plans so it's time to execute. There will always be things that come up that you may have to adjust for, just make sure what the adjustments you make are getting you to your end goal.
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[INTRO] Hey everybody, Sami here with another episode of the digital marketing therapy podcast. And I talked a little bit today about managing your calendar and taking control of your to do lists and your tasks. Last week, I talked about online summits and events, and you know, doing all the things and learning all the trainings and how to actually execute when you have come out or something like that. But just in general, I know that marketing tasks tend to be something that gets pushed to the backburner. It's something you're not necessarily used to doing all the time. You know, maybe you have a new team member, or you're not sure exactly what should be prioritized, and what shouldn't, and how to get all of the things done in a day, so or in your week, or whatever. And we don't want to be slaves to our jobs, we want to make sure that we are able to get the big things done. And so I just wanted to do another episode on this. We've done a few around different topics, but not one, specifically really about managing your calendar and a day to day basis. So that's what I want to talk with you about today. I hope that it's helpful. But I want you to end your day feeling successful, I want you to leave work on Friday, feeling like you can breathe on the weekend. And really make sure that you have just those wins and that feeling of I did it and I got some stuff done and we are moving forward and we're moving in the right direction. And we're gaining momentum, right, I want that for you. No matter what stage you are in your business. So that is what we are going to talk about today.
But before we get into it, this episode is brought to you by our private Facebook community. We are full of nonprofits and people that are just like you trying to learn, grow, build, expand and get more tips on the digital marketing online website space. So we are there for you to support you if you have any questions if you're stuck somewhere if you want website reviews, so head on over to facebook.com/groups/thefirstclick, that's where you can find us. And I would love to see you in there. But for now, let's get to the episode.
[CANNED INTRODUCTION] You're listening to the Digital Marketing Therapy Podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern. And each week, I bring you tips from myself and other experts, as well as hot seats with small business owners and entrepreneurs to demystify digital marketing and get you on your way to generating more leads and growing your business.You're listening to the digital marketing therapy podcast. I'm your host, Sammy Bedell-Mulhern. And each week, I bring you tips from myself and other experts, as well as hot seats with small business owners and entrepreneurs to demystify digital marketing, and get you on your way to generating more leads and growing your business.
[BODY] In my experience, the marketing department is typically encompassed by the development department at a nonprofit or maybe you're the executive director doing a little bit of it all, maybe you're the development director doing it all. And you have to do grant writing, and you have to do social media, and you have to do your email marketing. And you have to thank the donors and all the things right. So in any given day, it can be so tricky, really feeling like, how can I get things done? And how can I move forward in a thoughtful way. And then, you know, you get the wrenches pulled in where a big donor wants to talk to you or you finally landed that meeting with the company that you've been trying to get to you for a long time or whatever, right, there's always these things that just pop up in our days. And it can be, you know, it can definitely be stressful and tricky. So what I like to do is, um, really be thoughtful about what it is that my week looks like. And this has taken me a lot of practice. So in some weeks are definitely better than others. So I'm just going to kind of walk you through kind of the steps that I take, and ways that I manage my calendar and how I say no or just not right now to people.
So it all starts with really knowing what my annual goals are. And I like to have them written down on a card that's at my computer, so that I can see it all the time. What are the things that I'm looking to accomplish this year? What are the financial donation goals that your organization has? And you know, depending on the size of your organization you might have, you might have your big company goals or your big organization goals. And then you might have one that's just specific for your department. So what are the things that I have to get done this year in the marketing department, or as the marketing person or as a development director in order for our whole nonprofit to reach our big goals, right? Because there might be some programming goals that are in there that don't have anything to do with what you have to do on a daily basis. But it's good to know how everything is kind of working up into the big picture. And we'll we'll talk a little bit more about why it's good to have those there for you all the time.Well, we get more into our calendar, so having your goal set.
So then, when I'm planning for my year, I really like to think about the certain things that are gonna help at different times of the year, and we definitely talked about this in our content planning episode at the end of the year.
So having a calendar that blocks off okay, well, this is when our annual fund campaign runs this is when we know we're going to be busy putting together the annual report, this is when we have our online fundraiser, like when are the chunks of things that we know we need. And having those kind of charted out. If you have a giant wall calendar, I think that's fabulous, whether you use it in your Google Calendar doesn't matter. But really making sure you're putting those things in in a way that you can see what's coming and kind of be able to back plan.
So if you know your event is on August 1, then really going ahead and putting in the tasks that need to be done in order for that event, and assigning dates, you know, really pulling all that through. And I like to create templates for things like that. So an online event, or our enrollment period, or like the things that we know are repeating over and over again, creating templates for that, so that when you do have to duplicate it, maybe you run multiple events a year, you can just auto populate all those things. So we do we do that. And things like clickup, which is a performance or a performance, a project management tool that we like to use. You can do it in a Google Doc, you can do it wherever it makes sense. But just think about the things that you do over and over again, put them in the calendar, the big, the big rock start to backdate things in so you can start to fill in your calendar because you know that those are the most important things. And you don't have to be super detailed. I don't want to spend a ton of time on this. But really just thinking out thinking about what are the big things that are going to happen during the year? What are some of the tasks that I need to get them done, and then going ahead and putting that out. And it could even look like I'm just blocking out on your calendar, maybe you just say from like July 1 to August 1, event prep, and you don't even put those in there. But then like the specific tasks, but then when you go to your calendar to look at what's coming up, you get that visual reminder that Oh, yeah, now look, we need to be starting to work on this.
The other reason that I really like doing that is because it allows me to free up brain space. So I can say okay, yes, I know, we have this big thing coming down the pipeline, I also know that I've got time blocked off on my calendar to get that thing done, I don't need to waste energy and stress on that thing that I know is there. Like I've already put a space for that it's there. I don't need to think about this anymore. And I've talked about this a lot on this episode. And it's also why I love to have a paper or calendar that's next to me all the time that I can just jot notes down to myself so that I don't have to think about them. And I'll we'll get into that in a little bit as well.
Okay, so then I'm going to think about what other tasks outside of those big rocks might I need to do in order to get me to my goal? Um, and this is where we're going to just like, throw some things out, right? Should you be doing all the things maybe do you have the staff capacity budget to do all those things, I really doubt it. So let's not try to do them all. Because when we try to do all the marketing activities that everybody's telling us to do, we're not going to do any of them well, and we're not going to see the results that we need to see. So maybe we have a goal of growing our email list by 500 people this year. And we know this because when we you know we have a list of 500. Now we want to double our list because we know that when we send emails out to our list, it generates X amount of dollars, right? We know that that's a reliable source for us to get to where we need to go. So then maybe your activities are in spending time on your monthly newsletter creating a lead magnet, maybe then you do decide to run some ads for your organization that run directly towards that, right.
So you just start to then put marketing activities in place specific to the goals that you're trying to meet. Okay, maybe it's that you're trying to get 20 more monthly donors, or in the same thing, it could be that you're trying to make your monthly donor average gift $50 a month, and now it's at $25 a month. So you can see there, it's a similar strategy or a similar program that you're promoting, but two completely different ways that you would go about getting that getting that pulled together, right?
Because if it is, I want to increase the average gift then that might be reaching out and campaigns towards your current monthly donors. But if it's I want to get, you know, 20 or 30 more monthly donors into our program. Then at that point, it would be maybe more of a social media campaign or again, paid advertising or really focusing on your Google Grants or content creation so that you can show more current things that are happening and why people should give to your organization. Okay?
So we figured out the tasks that we need to reach our goals, we figured out when things are happening, we put some blocks in our schedule so that we know when exactly we are needing to start focusing on some of these bigger rocks. And now, you know, that's kind of something I like to do at the end of the year. I also then like to revisit it on a quarterly basis. So what how did we do this quarter? What do we need to tweak, refine, and then continue to move forward in that direction? Okay.
So then what I'm going to do is make a list of the tasks that only I can do, and start to figure out how maybe we might want to reevaluate or reassess, or potentially hire for some of the other things that we know we're going to need to do. And it's really just about making sure everybody's working in their zone of genius, so that you're getting the best quality work, and you're, you know, doing things the most efficient and effectively. And, and I always like to encourage, I mean, this is totally outside of my, my, my zone of genius. I mean, I don't hire and do all that stuff for people, but really taking a look at the job descriptions of the small team that you have. And are there ways that you can creatively kind of move things around, especially in the early phases like yeah, maybe typically, the CEO or the development director, or the financial finance person wouldn't do some of these tasks.
But as you're growing and evolving, what kinds of things can we move around to make sure that everybody is doing the things that they're best at? And do we need to hire somebody, or get some new tools? Now, I say get new tools, very hesitantly because I don't want you to start going down a rabbit hole of like, all the shiny SaaS software that's out there, from CRM, to your email marketing, to social media posting to I mean, you know, project management tool, all of the things right. So we don't want to go crazy there. But as you take a look at all the tasks that need to be done, are there some ways that you can be more efficient if you just take a week or two, to invest in setting up a project management tool, or to really learning all the features that your CRM or your donor management software has to offer. And that's something that I just really want to challenge you to think about. Don't go crazy. And if you have questions about tools that you know, you're looking for, and you want some support, head on over to the Facebook group and ask them there. And we would be more than happy to give you some recommendations. And there's lots of other people in the group that would be able to give you recommendations there as well.
So now that we know who's doing what we know what the tasks are, we know where we're going. Now I'm going to block out dates on my calendar to batch like tasks. So this could be something like we've decided that we are going to publish a blog every two weeks. Great. So I want you to put sit down at your desk, open up your calendar and say, Okay, I know on the second week of every month, I'm a little bit quieter typically in what I have to do. So I'm going to batch every second Tuesday of the month, I'm going to block that off on my calendar. And that's going to be a writing day. And that's what I'm going to write both blog posts for the month below both of the emails that are going to go out to support that any of the social media posts that need to be done alongside that, whatever it is that you've decided you're going to do, I'm going to do all of that on that second Tuesday of every month. And then I don't have to think about that anymore. Right. But the important key thing is that you put that on your calendar, and you don't change, you let it happen, because that's when the consistency goes away. And that's when things start to kind of go a little bit haywire for you and the stress creeps in and you can't get all the two dues done because you move things around.
Okay, so we're going to talk more about your calendar still, but I just put it on your calendar, block it off as you're busy just like you would, you know, if you were going to have lunch with a board member or go meet a potential donor, right, this is an important thing that you have decided, is going to help push your organization forward to reaching your goals. It needs to be just as important as it could be that you've decided that you have some different kind of thank you campaigns that you're running. And those have to happen on a regular basis. Go ahead and block them off on your calendar. So maybe it's twice a month you or you have day set aside to call donors or to thank people or to send cards or whatever. Put those things on your calendar. I am hoping you're sensing and seeing a theme here. Put those things on your calendar so that you have them blocked off so that when it comes time to do that, you're not surprised like Oh shoot, it's time to do that. Now I have a crazy week already. How am I going to fit that in right? We want to try it remove that.
So now that we've got the blocks in on our regular schedule, what I typically do every Sunday is sit down and take a look at my schedule for the week. And you could do this on Friday, you could do this on Monday morning, like, whatever feels good to you. Um, and I am a big fan of the full focus planner, I'm not an affiliate for them or anything, they don't pay me to say that. But I love it, it works great. I love that it's a quarterly planner.
And so what I do on Sundays is I sit down and I review the week before, I take a look at my to-dos all of that. And this is where I had mentioned earlier that I you know, like to have a paper planner next to me to just jot down all the notes. So I'm reviewing every single day of the week that I had, what things didn't get done that I can just go ahead and pull through. So then I just write those down on the day that I think I'm going to work on those that next week.
I also kind of make sure I'm reviewing what worked, what didn't work, what were my wins, celebrating successes, because I think it's always important when we're in a crazy, you know, crunch time to pay attention to these, there are good things that are happening. And you do have things worth celebrating, even if it's just, we got one donor in this week that is giving us, you know, $30 a month like celebrate that, you know, make sure that everybody is celebrating the small things, and really taking in the big things as you go.
So then after I've done that, I'm going to actually put my that, you know, really take a look at what my calendar is for the next week, what do I already have in place. And I'm going to set I'm going to review my business goals, right. And I'm going to review my quarterly goals that are also in my book. And I'm going to set my big three for the week, what are the big three things that I must get done this week in order to continue to keep moving towards my goals, okay. And I'm going to write those down. And then I'm going to start to take a look at my existing calendar for the week. And I'm going to try to put in what are the big three things that I need to get done each day, in order to hit what what I need to get done for the week. And some of them might vary. Like sometimes, I always have podcast stuff on my big three for at least one day. And that's not always part of my big three for the week. But it's something that does need to happen every week, because that's what I do. Right? That's, that's my content that I create every week. So it doesn't always have to relate directly back to your big three. But that's what I like to do. So then when I sit down to work in the morning, I can see okay, these are the big three things I have to get done. I can see right below that, what are some of the little to dues that need to be done. And I can say, Okay, do I just want to go ahead and chunk out, like, let's just see if I can go spend 30 minutes, then I can get all of these little to dues done. And then I can set aside these two hours to get things done, whatever that looks like.
Now, here's where it really gets tough. During the week, people are going to hit you up, they're going to need different things from you. People are going to call and want to schedule meetings. And and I feel ya, it's hard to not just say yes, and try to accommodate what everybody else needs from you. But what you need to do is make sure you're moving your organization forward. So don't be afraid to say no to people, when it comes to them asking you for your time.
Now, there's always going to be situations where it might be an urgent thing that you just need to tackle and that's fine. But nine times out of 10 if a donor calls and says hey, can we have lunch on tomorrow, and you know, you've got that day blocked off to do your content? Don't be afraid to say you know what, I'm not available tomorrow, but my schedule is really open on Friday would would that work for you? And they may say, you know, nope, I if we can't meet today, then we can't meet for three weeks. And that might not be okay. So you have to assess those decisions. But But always taking it back to if I take this meeting tomorrow, even though I know I have something else already planned. Does that get me to my bigger goal? Or am I just doing it because I don't want to say no, I'm a people pleaser. I want to make sure everybody has what they need. And I'm a glutton for punishment, right? So somebody sends you an email, somebody calls you somebody shoots you a text, they need to add something to your schedule. Make sure that if you're going to re assess and readjust what you're doing that day what you've planned for. If it's not getting you to that bigger picture, then please ask to move it to do Can somebody else get it done? can we can we table this this we don't need to do this.
There's so many good ideas, especially when you sit and brainstorm with your team. There's so many things that you can do. There's so many great ways to get out there. But that doesn't mean that it all has to happen right now. And I think that's the really the big message that I want to share with you is it doesn't have to happen right now. Let's perfect the things that we're doing right now, let's move towards the goal that we know we're moving towards. And then let's add something on at that point.
Another example might be some new grant opportunity opens up for a program that you weren't going to start until, you know, a year or two from now. Well, just because that grant money is there doesn't mean that you need to flip flop everything and change your whole plan your strategy, right, keep things going the way that they are. Oftentimes, if we pivot and move and change it to too many things all at once, you know, we don't do anything well. And I think some of that comes from having an abundant mindset versus a scarcity mindset with that, and that tends to pull through into how we manage our days and how we work through the tasks that we're working through. If you can come from a place of abundance, and trust that things are going to come to us as we need to, and that we'll work hard, and we'll work the system and we'll run the strategies and we'll play the game. But we don't have to be so scared that all of the funds are going to dry up. And because if this new grant opportunity came up now, who knows what potential opportunities are going to come up when we're actually ready to provide that product or service?
Okay, so I want you to really take a take a look at the activities that you have on your plate, what are all of those going towards your goal. And if you don't feel like you have enough time in your day for marketing, really take a look at what you're doing on a regular basis, how you're managing your day, how you're managing your time, are you spinning your wheels on things that you do, just because you can. But they're not actually helping or getting you anywhere? Are those things that you could pass off to someone else? Or could you get, spend a little bit of money for a tool that might, you know, automate and save time to do some of those things, and then frees you up to do the marketing activities that you know you want to do in order to grow and get more visibility for your organization.
So I hope that was helpful. Start with your annual goals. Figure out when things are happening, put those big rocks in, set your tasks, in your calendar, group them by activity, batch them to save time and energy, block out your calendar. Think about hiring new people if you need to, and make sure you're managing your schedule and your goals. And don't be afraid to say no. Okay. And that was the one for me that took the most amount of practice.
The very, very last thing that I just want to mention is I have found it tremendously impactful to have an accountability partner. So there's three of us that meet every Monday on zoom, and we just go through what our goals are. How do we do last week, where are we stuck and support each other and that and if there is a network of other development directors or other, you know, marketers or fundraisers in your circle that you trust and get along with getting on a quick little 30 minute call every Monday morning just to say, Okay, here's where we're at, here's where we're stuck. I mean, you're all going to help each other, learn from each other, and it will keep you moving in that forward direction. So that's just the kind of little bonus that has been super impactful for me. And if anybody wants some information on how we set that up, and what each call looks like and how we kind of manage that I'd be more than happy to have that conversation with you.
So that is it for today's episode. I hope that it was impactful and helpful for you. If you wouldn't mind, head on over to wherever you listen to these episodes. Make sure you subscribe and you know, leave us a review on Apple podcasts. We would really love that. Thank you so much for listening and I will see you in the next one.