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4th – 6th July 2016

Making the most of your time

: Lizzi Hollis

As fundraisers, we often feel that we can say 'yes' to every request - but sometimes, it's good to take a breath and decide what is worth our time. Lizzi Hollis explains how we can make the most of our time and take the opportunities that come our way to benefit our cause...

When I was 21 I thought I could study for a Masters in Medieval Archaeology (with a dissertation that required meticulously analysing 119 skeletons), work a full time job running an Annual Fund Campaign, play on the University football team, learn to drive and maintain a social life. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you reading this see a little of yourself in the above situation. As fundraisers we’re often incredibly enthusiastic ‘yes’ people. Our enthusiasm and drive are probably what landed us our jobs and people will often comment on our passion and tenacity: it’s why we’re good at what we do. We want to have a finger in every pie, we hate the awkward silence that follows a request for help so we often raise our hands and we probably have a bit of the fear of missing out too.

However, being a ‘yes’ person all the time and wanting to take on everything at once can really hinder us too and even the most resilient will crack under the pressure. I’ll let you into a little secret – I never finished that Master’s degree.

So, how do we make the most of the opportunities that come our way without compromising our day jobs or burning ourselves out?

First of all, prioritisation is key and there are a number of ways you can best prioritise your work:

If there’s something you know you have to do every day, week or month make a recurring calendar appointment. For example, one of my more prolific Payroll Giving PFOs always sends new donors through on a Friday. The task isn’t particularly strenuous, but it is admin heavy. So myself and new Payroll Giving Donors have a standing date every Monday morning from 11am – 12pm. By working in this way you will know in advance what tasks need to be completed before arranging other things.

Spend the first hour you get into the office on Monday morning working out what your plan will be for the coming week. Put in your calendar the time you want to knuckle down and work and mark the entry DND (do not disturb). You’ll feel a lot less frazzled if you know what you’ve got to complete over the next 5 days.

session audience

Secondly in order to not get too overwhelmed by all the things going on in our busy lives, we have to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Sure, going to that art exhibition (that happens to be offering free champagne and nibbles) might be a really good opportunity to meet potential corporate partners, but is it worth going to? Probably not. Whereas, the #Giving Tuesday launch being held by CAF, actually is worth my while and gives me an opportunity to network with my peers and gain insight about how I might successfully run the campaign within my own organisation. I’m more likely to meet like-minded and useful people here, than I am looking at paintings of horses in Mayfair!  We have to learn to separate what is really going to be beneficial to our wider development versus something that we think sounds interesting and are eager to go to. The likely hood is, by not separating the two you’ll end up feeling tired and frustrated, whereas going to an event that really adds value to your work will leave you feel stimulated and inspired.

I find the 4 D’s to be most helpful in this these situations: Do it, Ditch it, Delay it, and Delegate it. It’ll really help you to decide what is worth your time, what isn’t and what could be in future.

There is absolutely no reason that we should ever compromise being the energetic, mobilising ‘yes’ people that make us so successful at our jobs, we just need to understand the best ways to focus our boundless energy for our own personal wellbeing and to the advantage of the amazing causes we support. 

Lizzi Hollis, Fundraising Officer, Independent Age

Lizzi is speaking in the Rising Star session within the Bigger Picture: External Environment track at Fundraising Convention

Hear from Lizzi and the other Rising Stars - book your place at Fundraising Convention

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