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Posts Tagged ‘time management’

It is difficult to track your time, especially when you have so many interruptions, telephone calls and meetings. How do you know how long you spent on a particular task without a quality tracker by your side? Technology is improving rapidly, and it is hard to know which tracker is best. Here we will run through some of the quality tracker apps for use within your NFP on the market today.

Toggl

If you are looking to track your time using a simple tool, then Toggl is highly recommended. You can opt for their basic package or upgrade to their pro package. With just one click of a button, you can start tracking. It even allows you to input your hours after the fact.

Hours

Hours allows you to do away with your timesheets and track your time as you go with real-time reports. It can be used on multiple devices giving you the freedom to switch between timers with one tap.

Paydirt

Paydirt is a great option for those who are always forgetting to set their timers. You can keep on top of your workload with the built-in timer and improve your productivity. It also provides a helpful overview of where you spend your time.

Timely

If you rely on calendars heavily to plan your day, then Timely can integrate seamlessly into your workflow. Highlight the project, start the timer and get down to work. It converts your schedule into your timer, quickly and smoothly.

Freckle

Rather than guesstimate where you spend the majority of your time, Freckle can help you narrow down those minutes and hours into useful charts and reports. It is particularly beneficial for those nonprofits wanting to streamline their processes and better their effectiveness.

Harvest

Spend less time tracking and more time doing with Harvest, an excellent app for those looking to track a variety of projects simultaneously. It also allows you to connect your favourite tools and track your expenses.

Top Tracker

TopTracker is a standalone app to help you track via timers, screenshots and webcam shots. It offers full productivity reports and can be used on all devices. And the best part, it’s free, making it a perfect choice for NFPs!

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Being a volunteer treasurer can be a huge responsibility, and during your most busy periods, you may find yourself struggling with the workload. Being able to manage your time efficiently becomes more important than ever, especially when you have finance issues and reports looming.

Here are some tips and tricks we garnered from other volunteer treasurers.

Skip the occasional meeting

While some meetings are important for you to attend, some meetings can be dealt with by a treasurer representative. Send someone on your behalf so you can catch up with your workload. They can then report back with anything that needs actioning.

Work from home

If you face a long commute or are juggling the hours between work and home, perhaps there are tasks which can be carried out at home. If you can access your finances on the cloud, then you may find that a lot of your workload can be handled directly from your home office.

Schedule your day

Without a set schedule, you have more chance of your time getting away from you. Plan to do specific tasks at set times. Check all emails first thing in the morning and then don’t check again until later in the day.

Work an early morning shift to get stuff done

If you can, plan for early morning periods where you can work uninterrupted. You may be surprised at just how much work you can get done at 7 am on a Saturday morning. Try not to make a habit of it, of course, but a few hours of working alone can do wonders for your overall schedule.

Rely on help from others

In truth, you cannot do it all. That is where colleagues and volunteers can come in handy. Seek help from quality staff who are as dedicated to the task as you are and who can help clear some tasks from your inbox. Delegate every opportunity you get.

Say no if necessary

It is important that you say no to some of the many requests that land on your desk. Just like you don’t have to attend every meeting, you also don’t have to go to every luncheon or do every bit of research that is asked of you. Prioritise your personal tasks, so you don’t stretch yourself too thinly.

Set time limits for volunteers

Volunteers may have issues and wish to discuss their problems with you. Let them know at the beginning of the meeting that you can only spare 5 or 10 minutes and keep to that time limit. Meetings can easily overrun and take up the majority of your office time.

Remember, it is your time. Being firm with your time limits and sticking to your main responsibilities is in your best interests. It will allow you to manage your workload more effectively and minimise the number of hours you work overtime.

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pexels-photo-261577Working or volunteering at an NFP can be a time-consuming task. It can feel like there are not enough hours in the day to get through the to-do list, let alone come up with creative ideas for fundraising activities. So what can you do to make the most of your volunteer hours?

Create a workable system

You will need to come up with a system so you can use the time you have to the best of your advantage. Organise everything so you can find it quickly; make lists, create folders, manage a diary – whatever works for your particular job or project. The better organised you are, the easier it will be to manage your time effectively.

Stop procrastinating

Often when things get busy, it is easy to spend time worrying about the mountain of paperwork or the number of items on the to-do list. The trick is to tackle them one at a time. Cross an item off the list and move on to the next one. Don’t spend your energy worrying about things – just do what needs to be done when you have the time.

Work from home where necessary

Sometimes working from home is in your best interests when you have a long or complex task to do. It can mean you can work on it in your own time without interruption, reporting back to the office as necessary. It may not work for all projects, but it could help when you are time limited and could save on much travel time between locations.

Break projects down into mini-tasks

If you are overseeing a big project, then it is often easier to bring things down into workable chunks. Plan your day so you can work on one project to completion. Then move onto something else and repeat. This will take much of the stress and overwhelm out of the work day and minimise time wastage from switching from task to task.

Avoid checking emails and messages first thing

Emails and messages can cut into your day. Try to get out of the habit of checking your emails as soon as you arrive at the office. Start working on your to-do list and save the message checking until mid-morning or mid-afternoon when you feel like you need a break. Add an automatic reply which states you will respond within a 24 hour period, so you don’t feel rushed to answer immediately.

Give yourself a break

You are only human, and you cannot do it all TODAY. Burnout will be no good for you or the NFP you are volunteering for. Do what you can, when you can and be happy with that. And if the NFP is struggling to get through the tasks set, then it may be time for them to look for an extra pair of hands to help you out. While challenging work is good for the soul, self-sacrifice will do you no good at all.

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female-850599_640If you have considered volunteering for the charity you support, you probably have one or more reasons to do so. While one of the most common reasons why people become volunteers is to try and make a difference by committing their time, helping a charity offers many other benefits – meeting new people and making friends, spending your time in a pleasurable manner (especially if you volunteer to do something you enjoy) and, of course, gaining valuable experience, all of which can help significantly boost your career.

When it comes to volunteering in a field that is closely related to your area of study or work, the experience you gain can be crucial for finding a job or progressing in your career. While you are not usually getting paid for your hours of volunteer work, it is still a serious, relevant work that will boost your experience, provide you with knowledge of the particular industry and with lots of insight into how things are done.

Of course, volunteering is often about working in team – a skill every employer will appreciate. However, while excelling at team work, volunteers are often expected to be responsible on their own, and to learn to be self-organised, initiative and motivated. Volunteering can teach you all that – after all, it will be your part- or full-time job for a certain period of time, during which you will be expected to apply your relevant knowledge to the ongoing tasks and projects and to do your best in what you have decided to help with.

In addition to teaching you transferable skills and providing you with extensive knowledge and experience, volunteering can also help you make important connections – both within the field you plan to work in and in other fields. Have in mind that when applying for a job, you will usually be asked to provide one or two names who can write a reference upon request. Therefore, if you perform well at your chosen NFP or charity, you might easily find that well-known specialists in the area you are working will be happy to give you a reference because they have worked with you on a certain project and are satisfied with your work. Remember that well-established professionals and leaders in their field often spend some time volunteering or working pro bono, so being a volunteer yourself might help you meet such people and turn them into important connections.

All in all, volunteering can really boost your career. It can provide you with the necessary work experience and knowledge to improve your CV, meet you with people who can guide you and help you progress in your chosen field, and teach you valuable skills like time-management, self-organisation and discipline. However, have in mind that, in order for volunteering to be a useful and enjoyable experience, you will need to like what you are doing – so choose wisely. When choosing an organisation to volunteer for and your role within it, think if it is what you actually want to do and if you will be able to do your best while spending your time at it. If not – maybe you need to spend more time looking for a volunteering position. Happy volunteering in 2016!

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‘Tis the season to be jolly” and take a break, wind down and refresh.

It can be a struggle to refocus once you return to work for obvious reasons. Sitting at a desk for 8 hours isn’t half as much fun as laying in the sun with a good book, or watching DVDs in your pyjamas. But getting your groove back is a necessity, and there are a few tips to help with the transition from beach to office.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain

That first morning you wake to the alarm is going to be hard, so try not to be tempted to stay in bed too long and go into work at the last minute. Some time alone to regroup, check voice messages, open any mail and start on the inbox, before the rest of the team arrives, will help you feel organised and in control. Your first week back can be hectic, so this isn’t the week to schedule important meetings or commence big projects. Try to catch up on tasks left over from before your break and leave the hard stuff until next week.

Share your holiday stories with your co-workers and reconnect before you return to the business of goals and targets. How often do we hear people say they felt like they never relaxed and that the holiday is a distant memory within days of returning. Relish the memories of the sun, or the snow, depending how you spent the holidays, so you can knuckle down and work towards the next adventure!

Get back into a routine, or if you don’t have one, take the opportunity to create new habits. If you feel fresher in the morning, this might be the ideal time to work on new projects, make sales calls or tackle the jobs where you need extra concentration. Afternoons might be best used for administrative tasks that require less creativity. While you are playing catch up, it can be tempting to push hard, not take breaks and stay back late. Make sure you eat lunch every day, preferably at the same time, and leave on time if you can. Organisation and a fresh focus will be your friend.

Touch base with your co-workers on any joint projects, and see what work is outstanding or requires a higher priority. Getting your bearings will help you identify where to start and what direction you need to focus your energy, which is just the boost you need.

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe

Simple pleasures will help you make the holiday feeling last, especially on your first day back. Pick up a coffee from your favourite café on the way into work, or pack yourself a special lunch. Returning to work doesn’t have to happen with a thud.

If you over-indulged over the break, as we often do, getting active, taking a walk before work or even at lunch, or hitting the gym to start the day will help restart and re-energise your mind as well as your body.

Returning to work after a break is inevitable, so you might as well embrace it and enjoy the fresh start. Every extra day is one day closer to your next break so why not start planning now. We work to live not live to work!

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When we think of habits we often think of bad habits. Our habit of reaching for chocolate when faced with a crisis or as a child we left our homework until the last minute, every time! There are however, good habits. Yes, there really are and the good news is you can create them easily and quickly and they will help to reduce your stress levels both at home and at work.

We all know what our weaknesses are and the bad habits we create around them. It’s time to find good habits to replace the bad and reduce our overall stress levels.

We can create good habits in the workplace that not only reduce stress but make life a lot easier in the process.  Habits that not only help us to work more efficiently but also more effectively. Without inducing any OCD tendencies, you can actually put in place structured habits that help you to not only prioritise your workflow but also take the stress away from having to constantly be considering what needs to be done next. Imagine how freeing it would be to know you could just flick to a diary/spreadsheet/mind map (insert your medium of choice) and see in black and white what needs to be done. You don’t need to store it all in your head, you don’t need to keep leaving sticky notes everywhere, and you don’t have to constantly be wondering whether you have enough time to get things done.

Here are a few things you can put in place right now to create good habits in the workplace and reduce your overall stress:

  1. Diarise everything – not just appointments but deadlines for documents, meeting times, project deadlines. The more you diarise the more you can structure the rest of your day, the less stress you will have because you know ahead of time what you need to achieve and where you need to be.
  1. You know when you were at school and you were always being told “don’t leave your homework until the last minute”, the same applies with work. If you have a project to achieve or a deadline to meet, start getting prepared right away. If you have to collect data, immediately create a folder either on the computer or a lever arch folder and add relevant inner folders/tabs to start collating information from the outset. Each time you come across something you will need, file it away immediately so that when the time comes you don’t have to think about where and when you saw that particular item.
  1. Plan everything. You don’t need to become a tyrant about it but having a plan laid out for each work day means you don’t have to continuously be juggling tasks. Diarise time for admin work, phone calls, email catch-up etc. so your work will flow rather than having to multi-task all the time. Multi-tasking is only good if it reduces stress not increases it.

We would love to hear about your good work habits that help you get through each day with lower stress levels.

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Have you ever wondered why you’re more productive some days than others? Or why you seem to get so much more work done on the days that have lots of interruptions?

There are reasons for this, and once you know what they are, you can make some conscious choices in your day. You can build on them and turn yourself into a productivity machine.

Take a look at this clip.  It has some excellent information about the way our minds work and the impact they have on our actions. The clip covers:

  • Why worrying about having “more willpower” is a fool’s game.
  • How world class experts stay productive… and what they do differently.
  • The reason why better energy management = a more productive you.
  • Big pitfalls that lead to busywork and procrastination.

Take a look at the video and then at the way you’ve been working. With a few changes, your productivity levels will improve.

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