New Year, New Habits

For many Advancement professionals, this week marks the first in a new fiscal year. Accordingly, it seems like a good time to assess ways we can be more productive and more focused on the most important elements of our lives – personally and professionally.

I’m taking stock. Feel free to join me!

A good way to start is to review your daily habits and routines. How do you use your time?

James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, suggests a starting point for creating good habits is to take a written inventory of current daily habits and note those that are good with a plus (+) sign, those that are bad with a minus (-) sign, and those that are neutral with an equal (=) sign, then formulate an action plan from this informed view.

Does this inventory suggest that you’re spending too much time on email? Then maybe you spend time aggressively unsubscribing to recurring emails you no longer review.

Have you strayed from taking time to intentionally plan your day? Then maybe you book an appointment with yourself on your calendar at the end of each day that focuses on planning for tomorrow. Or block time in the morning before your day begins. Or set a rule to not schedule meetings with others until after a certain time each day.

Have you let the “urgent” crowd out the “important” in your Advancement work? In my experience, this means paying more attention to deadline-driven work (e.g., copy for the next annual fund appeal is due by next Friday) versus work that can eventually achieve far greater results (calling the next three donor prospects on my portfolio to schedule a “discovery” meeting).

If this resonates, the solution could be as simple as leaving the names and phone numbers of these donor prospects on your desk at the end of the day to make it easy and convenient to call them when you return to your office the next morning.

That’s easy, right? That’s the point. Small changes can equal big results. As long as they become habits that are consistently practiced over time.

What are three small changes you can make this next fiscal year that, when practiced regularly and ingrained as habits, can achieve meaningful results?

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