When you’re feeling underwater at work, it feels counterintuitive to add more things to your plate. But reconfiguring your marketing processes and how you accomplish communications tasks can free up your availability in the long run, week after week.
Improving your nonprofit time management skills isn’t about squeezing more out of your day. It’s about helping you focus on the parts of your to-do list that can be done more strategically to reach organizational goals—which ultimately makes for more resilient marketers.
The Basics of How to Manage Time Wisely
Good time management enables you to be focused on your highest priorities and the work that’s included in your strategic plan. It can also minimize or prevent you from wasting time on lower priority tasks that might take less time but will have less of an impact on your goals.
Most time-saving tips you read about are all things that you can do in the moment or daily practices to make into a habit. From canceling a meeting to delegating tasks, these can be immediate ways to free up time here and there. Let’s cover these basics first so we leave no stone unturned.
Just because you can handle all the tasks doesn’t mean you should. If you manage a team, it could have members with special skills, expertise, or experience that can deliver the same or higher quality results than you’re able to deliver, especially if you need to focus elsewhere. If you work alone, you could consider outsourcing some aspects of your job or hiring someone to lighten your workload.
You should delegate tasks that:
- Someone else can do better
- Won’t get done on time without help
- Don’t necessarily need your presence
- Compete with more important tasks that only you can do
Leverage the Power of Technology
One of the top tricks of nonprofit time management is identifying the time-intensive and repetitive tasks that technology tools can do on your behalf. While these repetitive tasks don’t take much time on their own, they add up and quite likely take up hours of your valuable time every week.
You can even consider that the tasks don’t have to be fully automated to save you time. For example, monitor social media platforms using a tool like Hootsuite, which can alert you when a response or reply is needed on one of your channels. To learn more about using your website to automate and streamline, check out our tips for building capacity.
Avoid Unnecessary Meetings
If you have the option of not being present, and the agenda is not critical, you will have more time to focus on high-leverage marketing tasks by not attending. Or you could delegate the responsibility to a representative from your team or colleague.
For all meetings that you plan on attending, you should know a few key things in advance. What is the agenda? What is the start and end time? Leaving at the scheduled time doesn’t equate to being rude; you’re being respectful to the schedules of all the attendees.
There’s a common (and outdated) belief that multitasking increases productivity and reduces time to complete your tasks. Even if it feels necessary, you should resist the urge to jump from one task to another to meet deadlines simultaneously.
Not only will you take more time than you would have if you handled each task individually, but you risk the chance of delivering substandard results and tanking your brainpower for the next things on your to-do list.
Take Regular Breaks
Many nonprofit professionals will go above and beyond for job security and the love of the mission. When an employer asks them to put in at least 40 hours of work per week, they’re likely to go further and put in more.
But extra hours and long days don’t necessarily translate to big rewards. Overworking can make you less productive, more tired, more stressed, and less safe. Taking breaks is one way to help you remain fresh, allowing you to be faster and more efficient with fewer mistakes.
Nonprofit Time Management Tips for Marketers
If you’ve checked all the boxes of basic nonprofit time management, it’s time to dig deeper. Making lasting and impactful changes to how you manage your time takes some foundational shifts in how you think about and approach your work from the start.
For marketers, this means looking for opportunities to standardize, replicate and automate the tasks and processes that keep your communications efforts afloat. Changing the way you do things often takes a little more time upfront, but you’ll reap the rewards in the months ahead—giving you more mental space for big, strategic initiatives.
1. Create a template task or process
While not every marketing task can be standardized, there are likely some that go through the same steps each time, like researching and writing a blog post and publishing it on your website. Or sending a regular email newsletter to your contacts. Consider internal processes, too, like how you collaborate with fundraisers on an event invitation or the steps you take to promote the event across your different marketing channels.
Start documenting your tasks and processes as you do them, then build a template or checklist that captures the ideal workflow. Store your templates somewhere easily accessible on your computer or a shared drive. To take it a step further, load your template tasks in a free project management platform like Asana.
By eliminating the time spent on how you’re going to do something, you can focus on the strategy of the task at hand. You’ll also set clear expectations with others at your organization about things like the project timeline and internal review process.
Here are a few of our templates to give you starting points for common tasks:
- Event Promotion Timeline and Checklist
- Nonprofit Blog Post Toolkit
- Nonprofit Website Maintenance Checklist
- Website Pop-up Worksheet
- Automated Email Campaign Template
2. Batch write your marketing content
Finding uninterrupted time to write up the text for a web page, email, or social media post is a tall order. Switching mental gears to create different types of content isn’t always easy, on top of managing competing priorities and deadlines. This is where brainstorming and writing content in batches comes in handy.
Batching is the practice of working on similar tasks at the same time. As Vanessa Chase Lockshin explains in her video on batching content for nonprofits, this approach to content creation is designed to streamline your work and make writing more efficient rather than dividing your attention over different tasks, topics and multiple writing sessions.
While batching is particularly well-suited to short-form content like social media posts, it can also be used for recurring projects like blogging and newsletter articles. Also consider batching writing for an upcoming initiative, like a Giving Tuesday campaign, where you’re working off a similar set of key messages but need to repurpose them for different channels and audiences.
3. Reshare your content at regular intervals
Are you getting enough value from the marketing pieces you create? From annual reports and newsletters to brochures and presentation decks, there’s a lot of content to work with! But repurposing or reusing these pieces is only the beginning—they can also be shared and shared again.
Even your most dedicated supporters are not going to see or read everything you put out in the world. By pre-planning to reshare your content at set intervals, you don’t have to worry about creating so much new stuff to stay active and engaging across digital marketing channels.
For example, you might reshare your latest blog post on social media once a week for a month after it’s published. The accompanying text should be slightly different each time, like featuring a quote from the post or asking a question to your audience, but you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. This is where using a free tool like Buffer can help, allowing you to schedule posts in advance and giving you a one-click option to share a previous post again.
4. Automatically segment your email contacts
Unlike nonprofit time management tips that are about habits and work style, there are time-saving solutions that rely on an organization’s technology setup. Digital marketing tools, in particular, offer opportunities to cut down on manual work like importing and maintaining a list of contacts. There’s a special kind of sadness and frustration that comes with trying to cobble together the right list of emails for a fundraising appeal or email blast.
If you haven’t done so already, first make sure that any forms used to collect contact information on your nonprofit’s website are integrated with your email platform, like Mailchimp. This saves you the hassle of adding this information yourself, as well as any potential mistakes or oversights with getting people into your system. Clean lists make for happy marketers.
Finding Time to Make Time
Managing time is an art, and, somewhat ironically, doing time management right means putting time aside to improve your internal processes. Try to find the right fit for your marketing plans and individual work style.
If you need a little more guidance on the type of marketing work that has the highest rewards even when you’re flying solo, be sure to check out our Lone Wolf Marketing Toolkit. You’ll find tips and guides to teach you different ways of managing your workload, the tools you should use, how to get the most out of your marketing, and more.
What are some ways to save time every day that you use as a marketing and communication professional? Any nonprofit time management tools or methods that you recommend? See you in the comments (if you have a minute to spare).