Juggling Lots of Balls

It seems we often spend a lot of our time trying to keep the many balls we are juggling in the air. I wish it was as easy as simply juggling. Sometimes your challenges are enhanced by difficult staff, volunteers, and donors. More than just keeping a rhythm of donor cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship we experience concerns about cash flow and reaching our target numbers. I find that it can be extremely hard to keep track of priorities in today’s development world.

Here are a few techniques that I’ve used to help me. I know many of you have more years of experience and, I imagine, tricks up your sleeve than I do. So, please leave a comment below with your tricks and tips.

  • Computer Monitor Sticky Notes: Beside my monitor I will often post my upcoming key deadlines or events. I may often just post my three most urgent projects so they are immediately in my view right when I sit down to work.
  • Daily & Comprehensive Task Lists: I have a friend who I use to tease about having a list of her lists and now I understand her system. Most mornings I create a list of what I’d like to accomplish that day. I also have a comprehensive list of everything I need to get done so I don’t miss anything. I think that the key here is writing down reminders to yourself.
  • Key Phone Call Content Sticky: When I have volunteers and board members I’ve a number of questions for I’ll create a sticky with a comprehensive list. Too often immediately after a volunteer has return my message I’ve called them back with a question I forgot to ask.
  • Top Donor Names Notecard: Too keep important actions and donors at the top of my mind I will have them on a notecard upside-down on my desk. That way other donors cannot see them when they are in my office but it acts as a reminder to me of my top prospects.

4 Responses to Juggling Lots of Balls

  1. Leanne says:

    I use email to “task” myself. I review my annual calendar and then set “task” reminders and “appointments” throughout the year. These can be anything from targets I want to hit each year that I have broken down into quarters/months/weeks or reminders to check my progress re. open ended items that I assign priority settings to.

    As each item comes into my inbox, I can either dismiss it, update it, or set a new reminder for it. I can also include other people in these reminders which becomes especially convenient when multiple people are responsible for project completion (and saves me from having meeting fatigue!).

  2. Christi says:

    Dear Jason,

    Can you please post a blog about strategic organization of donors- mid level to major donors and foundations? Or any resources on how to organize (for those that rely on excel for their sole database). Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas!

  3. Dan says:

    Like Leanne, I use email to help stay organized. But unlike her, I email myself lists for a particular day the night before instead of setting reminders to myself. I do this because my computer at work and my computer at home don’t correlate. Since I’m in the Navy, I can’t access my work network from the house. So, for example, if I’m at home on a given night and think through the following day, I might email myself tasks to get done while at work. Then I keep that email unread until everything is done. It just helps a little to get things moving.

  4. Dana says:

    Good suggestions! I have a handwritten “to do” list that I rewrite at the end of the work day so I have a fresh clean page for the next morning. Like Leanne, I use Outlook to set reminders for myself for future tasks/goals. And like Dan, I also email myself from home to work and vice versa to remind myself of tasks. We (The Collins Group) posted a blog on this topic too, if you would like to check it out: http://www.collinsgroup.com/blog/2009/08/page/2/

    Back to my list…

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