coffee-flower-reading-magazineWe are busy, all of the time it seems, and we’re all being asked to do more with increasingly less time and resources. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could somehow just snap our fingers and get it all done?

Being more productive, and getting more accomplished each day requires more than wishful thinking.  Productivity is like any other good habit, it’s a skill that each of us can develop with enough practice. Over time, adopting the following five traits will help you to get more accomplished each day.

Increase Your Focus. It’s easy to get caught up thinking and obsessing about things we can’t control or to become distracted by all of the other, more enjoyable things that there are to do with our time other than our work. Taking our eyes off of our primary goals and objectives, however, wastes time. You’ll get more done each day if you actively look for ways to eliminate interruptions and distractions while you work. As you focus on the tasks at hand, don’t be afraid to ask others for help, and consider delegating tasks that are better suited to others.

Increase Your Effectiveness by Managing Your Energy and Eliminating Negativity. A lot of us not only waste time when we should be focusing on our work but, we also manage our energy unwisely a well. We can increase our ability to get more done by taking steps to better manage and enhance our energy levels. This means adopting practices that boost our physical and mental health, such as increasing our nutrition, getting enough rest and taking the time to exercise. We can also boost our energy levels and morale by avoiding negative situations or people that sap our energy and instead choosing to surround ourselves with people that inspire and encourage us and build our energy.

Break Free from Self-Limiting Beliefs and Stop Letting Doubts Hold You Back. Are you so afraid or failing, or being embarrassed that you are your own worst enemy? Do you let false, self-limiting beliefs hold you back from taking risks and putting forth your best effort? If your mind is full of visions of obstacles and what can go wrong, regain your focus and reclaim your life by changing the channel on negative self-talk and doubts. Focus on what can go right about a given situation and what steps you need to take to achieve your objectives. Practice visualising how you will feel and what will happen when things go well, and keep pressing forward towards your goals!

Leave the Past in the Past. Learn from Your Mistakes, but Then Move On. Each of us has made mistakes and has failed at something. Rather than wasting time and energy remaining trapped in the past, resolve to learn from the experience and quickly move on. Continuing to mull over in your mind all of the mistakes and errors that you have made will not help you. When you make a mistake, ask yourself what you have learned from the experience, what you would change in the future, what steps you need to take to improve your performance and then move on and allow the experience to become part of the foundation that is paving the path to your future.

Keep Growing. As we get older and past hurts, mistakes and errors pile up, it can be tempting to stick with what we know and what is familiar to us and get stuck in the rut of established routines and outdated ways of thinking and doing things. If we want to maintain our effectiveness and increase our productivity, however, we must seek ways to continue to grow. We can encourage new growth within ourselves by remaining open to new experiences and ways of thinking and finding ways to improve and develop new skills. Pursuing growth and development not only improves our productivity and effectiveness, but it also builds our passion for living and the joy we obtain from our lives!

pexels-photo-31256Coming up on the calendar are some interesting and worthwhile events for NFP board members and volunteer treasurers.

Meetings and Minutes Masterclasses are taking place in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne towards the end of April, and are designed to be beneficial for all NFP members with committee, administration or board roles. There is almost always room for improvement in running more efficient meetings and taking better minutes, so those who think they could do with some assistance in this area should have a look at the course information and registration on the Institute Of Community Directors Australia website.

Also just around the corner, the Board Builder Conference, is being held on April 29 in Melbourne. This conference will put a focus on building boards that are responsible, productive and sustainable, and at the centre of organisations that do first-rate work consistently. There will be a selection of speakers to give insight and advice on a range of issues pertinent to modern NFPs, including Kylie Cirak, the Director of Membership Experience at the Institute of Community Directors Australia, and Paul Ronalds, CEO of Save the Children. This is an excellent opportunity to consult experts on your organisation’s particular problem areas, and also learn new management and directorial skills. For further information, and to register, refer to the website.

Finally, but importantly, the Communities in Control Conference is scheduled to take place in Melbourne on May 30th and 31st. This event is a chance to engage with some of the greatest minds in the country and be on the lookout for what is emerging in our cultural landscape, to be able to adjust your organisation’s mission and work to be the most efficient it can be. This conference is designed to be both entertaining and inspirational and aims to bring new ideas to attendees, so community organisations continue to evolve with the communities they serve. There are some high profile speakers, including broadcaster, academic and author, Waleed Aly and actor and comedian Magda Szubanski. Other speakers bringing their valuable perspectives include Holly Ransom, intergenerational economics expert, and Celeste Liddle, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Indigenous Organiser for the National Tertiary Student Union. More information, including an in-depth programme, can be viewed at Communities in Control.

These events, along with others throughout the year, are a worthwhile investment of time and resources as they facilitate keeping on top of necessary skills and brushing up on topics that are useful to successfully running an NFP organisation.

pexels-photoAlmost everyone can remember a time when they have been asked to do something new and they have felt it is beyond them. Perhaps there’s new software that needs to be mastered, or more negotiating skills are needed than one is felt to possess. Perhaps a better understanding of business practices would speed up the process of getting certain tasks done. Whatever it is, if further training will have a positive impact on your work, it is going to benefit your organisation. For that reason, it is not unreasonable to approach them to fund said training.

Easier said than done? Not if you have your bases covered. Follow these three steps and you will be in with a good chance to get that extra training you would like.

Research Training Options

Make sure you have selected the most appropriate course for the knowledge you need. Make sure it is good value, and happening at a time that will not clash with other work that cannot be rescheduled. If you can propose a particular course, you are making things as easy as possible for the decision makers to approve.

Be clear about what the training entails

Communicating what you will learn and how it will benefit your organisation is key to getting the cost of training covered by your organisation. Explain how your work will improve with the new knowledge, and what impact your improved skill set will have on the organisation both short and long term. Most courses will have information that can be forwarded to the decision makers, but if not, prepare something in writing that can be considered when the time is right. If there are noteworthy trainers leading the course, be sure to include that information. Also, point out if other attendees are likely to make good contacts for your organisation.

Offer to share what you learn

A proposal to attend training becomes particularly attractive if the knowledge gained can be shared with others in the organisation. It might not be feasible for all to attend the training, but those who can are in a good position to return with their new knowledge and teach others what they have learned. Offer to run a mini development course for others to sweeten the deal for everyone.

By following these steps, convincing those who can write the tuition cheque that is it a good investment can be relatively straightforward, especially if the course is indeed worthwhile.

0 QnVzaW5lc3NfMTQ3LmpwZw==It can be a precarious balancing act, the idea of fun at work. While all workers, volunteer or otherwise, will be more productive when they are doing things they enjoy, the idea of trying to inject more fun into an organisation’s operations can be quite a tricky one. When implemented properly, there are several major benefits of fun at work, but there are notable pitfalls too, so spending time to get things ‘just right’ is worth the extra thought it entails.

Improved Communication

Staff or board members who have opportunities to get to know one another find their communication is more seamless and fewer workplace misunderstandings take place. Getting to know each other can be a long process, but is accelerated by work-related extracurricular activities.

Increased Productivity

Better, more efficient performance is the natural consequence of hard work being interspersed with fun. Silicon Valley companies are famous for having places for employees to play computer games at their own discretion throughout their workday, or even flop on a beanbag and have a beer. Each organisation will have their own ideas for what is appropriate for their culture, but letting workers have fun can give them the mental break they need for the next burst of innovative thinking.

Improved Worker Retention

People tend to stick around when they feel they belong and are appreciated. Festivals that rely on volunteers have the same people back year after year, often because they are looking forward to the “volunteer appreciation concert”. Making sure people are having fun is a great way to encourage them to stick around and enjoy a long-term association with any organisation.

Staff Implemented Fun

Many organisations report the best results from work-related fun occur when it is the employees themselves who decide what they would like to do. Giving workers the first and final say in their work-related fun activities increases feelings of being appreciated and ensures the activities chosen will be well received. As one individual pointed out, work-related obligations that are not chosen by those supposed to enjoy them, can end up feeling like more work.

Formation of “Second Family”

When workers have the chance to have fun and get to know one another well, colleagues can start to build relationships that can feel, particularly for younger people, like a “second family”. They are people one can feel comfortable with, trust implicitly, and enjoy sharing milestones and successes with. When this happens, spontaneous fun emerges throughout the calendar, as people are keen to mark occasions, such as birthdays, at work.

Ensuring a good balance of fun exists alongside the operations of any organisation is good encouragement for the people involved to work better, experience greater satisfaction, and stick around to be part of an organisation’s growth.

office-1069207_640Nothing stays the same; the world, our world is constantly changing, so it stands to reason that we must change with it if we are to continue to thrive. Whether we are conscious of it, or even willing, we are forever learning and changing, growing and adapting to the shifting sands that form our lives.

So if learning is constant and essential for growth, instead of resisting, it helps to embrace and even seek opportunities to learn. No point fighting, right? With such busy and sometimes over committed lives, the easier the better.

We’ve compiled a short list of must watch personal development videos of varying lengths to inspire you to a world of online learning.

The Secret

The first 20 minutes of the full length movie explaining the Law of Attraction is a game changer, and for some, a life changer. The suggestion that the Universe is infinite and has the capacity to provide anything you ask for, in the right way, takes a leap of faith. What do you have to lose?

Brené Brown – The Power of Vulnerability

A research Professor from the University of Houston and public speaker, Brené Brown’s TEDx talk about her subject area, vulnerability, courage, authenticity and shame, is one of the most popular ever filmed and encourages each of us to see our value and worthiness for love, belonging and joy.

Tony Robbins – 10 rules

No personal development list of resources seems complete without Tony Robbins, the biggest man in motivational speaking, literally as well as figuratively. If you like the feel of this video, the producer Evan Carmichael, has developed a series with other well-known people sharing their own 10 rules.

Maysoon Zayid – I got 99 problems, palsy is just one

If a reality check and perspective is what you need, check out this great talk, from Comedian Maysoon Sayid who describes herself as a cross between Mohammad Ali and Shakira. Actress, stand-up comic, philanthropist and advocate for the disabled, this will have you learning whilst laughing.

Steve Jobs – Most important life lesson of all

An incredible story about failure, finding and knowing what you love, and being strong enough to apologise, is all the more poignant and inspiring since the passing of this successful man in 2011. Beautifully produced with original photos and soundtrack of Steve’s voice, this short video will have you wanting more.

“YouTube is becoming much more than an entertainment destination” – Chad Hurley

It’s said if you are not learning you are dying, and YouTube isn’t just for funny cat videos or people hurting themselves. If you have 5 minutes, you can learn a thing or two, and change your perspective. Don’t be surprised if you look up and your time is gone but your brain and heart are full!

volunteerVolunteers don’t grow on trees, so it can be tempting to grab any Tom, Dick or Harriet and welcome them onboard, only to find they are the wrong fit for your organisation.

1. Passion plus professionalism.

Just because your volunteers are not getting paid doesn’t mean they get to leave their A game at home and do half a job. Commitment and reliability are just as important in volunteering as they are in professional activities as well as personal life. Passion is infectious too. Adding the right person with a positive spirit and fresh eyes, to an already committed volunteer team, can increase the energy and outputs and make even the most mundane tasks enjoyable. Professionalism also means demonstrating integrity and reliability. If you say you’re going to do something, then do it, and if you commit to being at a certain place at a certain time, then be there! People who give their best, are enthusiastic, willing and interested are invaluable, regardless of the skills they bring to the table. With the right attitude, they can learn and achieve just about anything.

“Your personal and professional lives will have to go hand in hand and will have influence on each other.” – Abhishek Ratna

2. Flexibility & Energy

While it’s true that volunteers bring with them strengths and skills that you may have targeted, and a particular task or role to perform, flexibility and ability to give new things a go is invaluable in a great volunteer. An open mind and willingness to learn, adapt and get stuck in can make the difference between a body just filling a chair and someone who is an asset to the team. Not for Profit organisations who rely on volunteer support need people who can take on a broad range of tasks, and do them with enthusiasm and a smile! You want people with a ‘can do’ attitude who come to hang out with you, make a difference and give their best because they want to. You want them to enjoy working with you and want to make a real impact, not people who just want to make their resume look better. The more positive energy given by volunteers, the more that flows back to them in return.

“Every time you empty your vessel of that energy, fresh new energy comes flooding in.” – Anthony Kiedis

3. Team player

If you could do it all on your own you wouldn’t need volunteers, so chances are there will be a team of people working together on a task or outcome, and teamwork is an essential skill for any volunteer. Depending on the array of duties you may be working with other staff, paid or volunteer, service users and the general public. Your volunteers will also be representing your organisation, so teamwork skills also contribute to being a good ambassador. Good communication and listening skills, being approachable and friendly, and generally amiable and cooperative are the starting points of good teamwork and the ability to play nice with others and work towards a common goal. An ideal team player is also a self-starter who can use a little initiative and identify what needs to be done and when without being given constant supervision and instruction.

“Teamwork is the secret that makes common people achieve uncommon results.” – Ifeanyi Onuoha

If your volunteer recruitment activities are effective, and your induction process is robust, you should be getting it right, most of the time. Keeping in mind these basic key attributes and qualities to look for in a volunteer will help ensure you get it right, more often than not.


As a volunteer treasurer or other board member, it’s unlikely that you came into the position fully equipped and knowing everything that you need to in order to be effective in your post. Even if you’ve served on the board for some time, the needs of every organisation changes. So, it’s likely that at some point during your service career there will be several times that you need some training to better assist the other members of your board.

There are numerous types of training available to those on the board of a non-profit. The training that you will need will depend on what you are trying to achieve. For example, many treasurers and other board members start their position learning as they go and pick up skills as they are needed. Mentors can show treasurers and other board members how to adequately perform in their position because they’ve learned from their personal experience on the board. However, there are many times when a mentor may not be available within the existing board. This is especially true in times of upheaval when several board members leave, or the focus of the non-profit happens to dramatically change.

Workshops and other short-term, hands-on training can be useful to bring new board members up to speed as to the responsibilities and requirements of their role, or to help existing board members stay updated. Training is useful when there is a specific skill that one or more members needs to acquire. Special topics or areas of interest can be presented well in this format. For example, if there is a change in guidelines that affects the board’s governing and oversight requirements, a workshop can quickly update everyone’s skills. Technology is another example where this training works well and is often needed. Since technology is rapidly changing, a short seminar can facilitate board members to become more familiar with topics such as best practices to increase cybersecurity to protect the non-profit’s systems.

Other times, formal training and even coaching can benefit board members and others who are in a leadership role in the non-profit arena. While it would likely be difficult for some board members to schedule time for formal, in-person training, there are online courses which enable board members to acquire skills that they need to be more useful in their position. Coaching can be done online especially when there isn’t already an existing mentor on the board to guide others in acquiring the skills they need. Coaches can support board members to clarify their vision for the non-profit and increase their individual leadership ability so that the non-profit’s goals are achieved more easily.

Boards can increase their effectiveness by conducting an audit to determine what skills each board member needs, and what training can be offered to update and improve everyone’s knowledge and capabilities. Individual board members can aid one another by being open to both mentorship and guidance and seeking ways to share their special talents and skills with one another.


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