My plan to study an hour of French each day was already 2 hours behind by January 4. If you are like me, you probably already know that most New Year's resolutions are broken in the first few days. But how can you make this your best year for you and your charity?
Bent, not broken
The average person quits smoking 10 times before they are fully successful. Don't let the the fact that you didn't completely attain your resolution in the first few days of the year stop you from trying again. Look at why you were unsuccessful and then try a new approach. Apply this thinking to your work. Year end appeal didn't go so well? Try some research and develop some new ideas now [check out our archives for great ideas in whatever area of charity you want to improve - the search is on the upper right].
Don't let the perfect get in the way of the good
I am a strong believer in hand-written thank you notes. But the unwritten ones stack up and I start feeling guilty and the whole thing grinds to a halt. This year I am trying something new - I am committing to 10 notes per day and doing this immediately after lunch. I am always tired after lunch so thank you notes are a valuable way to use that time well. Plus 10 a day is manageable. I would rather do 50 notes a week than do none for 7 months and feel guilty every day.
I learned this concept of batching from Cindy Wagman. Take a type of job and do a lot of it all at one time. That way you can focus and make more progress. As an example, I have written the first drafts of all my thank you letters for this year all at once. When I come back to them in due corse, I have already made a start. Is there some task or project you can batch in your work?
Take advantage of natural breaks
There are slow times in each office. The Friday before a long weekend - always a slow day. The month of August, always slow. If you are working during that time, take advantage of it by doing something that will make your life easier when things are busy. That might be cleaning up your desk, drafting writing in advance, or taking time to think about the bigger picture aspect of something. Or, if you have trouble detaching from work, take the day off and really truly don't phone in or check your email. A break is another great way to use this time.
Be kind to yourself
Fundraising consultant extraordinaire, Simone Joyaux, says that you owe it to your donors to be interesting. If you can't bring yourself to take time off long hours of work, bear in mind that donors want to talk to interesting people. The average donor is not interested in talking about raffle licenses or the nuances of correct charity tax receipting. For your sake, and the sake of your supporters, get out of the office and do whatever interests you once a week - be that golf, art museums, spoken word performance. Whatever you love.
Charity work is important. We all make mistakes. Be sure to bring your best self to your work this year by working smarter and taking time off for you.
Ann Rosenfield is the Editor of Hilborn Charity eNews and takes dance three times a week and also serves as Vice-Chair for Rainbow Railroad.