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Summer signals a time of rest and relaxation. It’s a time to enjoy the great outdoors and sunshine. This year, like no other, we all need a break. Fortunately, vaccination rates are up, Covid cases are down, and life is returning to (somewhat) normal.

At the Capital Campaign Toolkit, we’re big believers in work-life balance. And there’s no better time to relax with friends and family than the summer.

9 Ways to Boost Your Fundraising Productivity Over the Summer

Summer is considered a “slow” time in fundraising, which is perfect for preparation and planning for a busy fall fundraising season. With that in mind, here are 9 ways to boost your productivity this summer.

1. Take time off

Whether you take a staycation, time with family and friends, or a bona fide vacation, take time off. And, if you’ve been working from home this year, try to get out of the house.

If you must stay home, plan a few day trips. Put your out-of-office message on and don’t check your phone or email (at least not more than once a day).

2. Practice work-life balance

Work-life balance means work does not take over your life. You’re working to live, not living to work. See what practices you can incorporate into your work to provide more balance in your life. Here are two possibilities you might consider:

  1. Take every Monday or Friday off to extend the weekend.
  2. Try half-day Wednesdays to break up the week.

3. Eat your frog

Make a list of the tasks you dread doing each day, week or month. And then, do them first.  We call that eating your frog! In other words, make a commitment to do it first and get it out of the way. All other tasks will seem easier and breezier once your most dreaded tasks are out of the way.

Hate calling donors? Make donor calls from 9-10 a.m. each day. The rest of the day will feel better.

Don’t put your worst task off until Friday afternoon. You know what happens…

4. Jumpstart your fall fundraising planning

Use the summer to get a jump on the things you know you will need in the fall. The more relaxed summer pace and extended timeline will give you a chance to be more creative and feel less pressured. And imagine how you’ll feel in the fall when you’ve already gotten key elements of your annual appeal ready.

You know what you’re going to need come fall. Why wait to jumpstart the preparation?

5. Use down time to plan

Have some free time while others are on vacation? Use the quiet time to plan for the coming year.

Review your goals and metrics. Figure out what can you do to improve your results this year.  Make a plan that’s aspirational and realistic. Review our Ultimate Capital Campaign Guide and get a jump on planning for various aspects of your campaign.

6. Chunk your time

I’m not sure where I first heard this expression, but it really helps me accomplish my work. I work in one-hour blocks — 50 minutes of work with a 10-minute break each hour. I organize my to-do lists into three to four hour-long blocks each day. I use each block to accomplish one meaningful task.

The rest of my time is spent responding to emails, making phone calls, or in meetings.

7. Don’t multi-task

While you may be a great multi-tasker, the science shows we are more productive when we focus on one thing at a time. That’s why chunking time (number six) into one-task blocks is so useful.

Select one task at a time and stick with it for 50 minutes. Resist the impulse to check your email while you are researching donors or writing an appeal letter.

8. Go to bed earlier

I know this may sound unimportant, but if you can go to bed an hour earlier, you’ll likely wake up refreshed and be more productive throughout the day.

Most people don’t get nearly as much sleep as they need. Going to bed one hour earlier will give you seven additional hours throughout the week. Try it for one week and see how you feel.

9. Turn your phone off

This might be the hardest one of all. Unplug. See what happens when you don’t respond to emails or messages right away. You might be surprised to find nothing horrible happens. In fact, you might even feel great.

Other Obvious Productivity Boosts, Plus a Tip

And here are three more…

  • Exercise
  • Eat well
  • Do something you enjoy every day

If you’re seeking even more ways to boost your fundraising and your overall happiness, check out my free downloadable, 31 Rules for Better Fundraising and a Better You.

A Final Tip

Small steady changes are more likely to stick than trying to do everything at once. So, don’t try to adopt all these things if this is a real departure from how you currently live. Pick one or two to try for a week or two and notice the difference.

Are there other things you will be doing to boost your effectivenss this summer? Let us know in the comments.

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