What keeps you productive?
We asked our community of fundraisers in The Fundraisingology Lab that question and got a ton of great ideas. These hardworking professionals have a lot of ways of getting more done than they’re already doing. Here are some of them:
The most popular productivity booster: coffee!
Coffee doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for a lot of us. Use it carefully!
Productivity apps and online services
There are a lot of apps and online tools that make difficult tasks easier or give you information in useful ways. There are so many, in fact, that it can be hard to know which ones might be useful for you. Here are some tools our members are using:
Slybroadcast. It’s a tool that leaves “ringless: voicemail messages for most phone services in Canada and US. I use it to thank donors under a certain gift amount after an emergency campaign.
Rev.com. A transcription service that turns audio recordings into surprisingly accurate text, quickly and cheaply. Saves a lot of time!
Ablebits. A suite of add-ons for Excel, Outlook, and Google Workspaces. I can never remember the formula for including V look-ups, merging spreadsheets, everything!
Calendly. I use it to get people outside my org to book time with me. It integrates with Outlook so I can just put it in an email and say, “Here’s my diary, what time works for you?” So much better than the back-and-forth about times and days. (Several similar services were also named by other members.)
Grammarly helps me with writing.
Calm. I use this app to practice 10 minutes of mindfulness at the beginning of each day. It helps me to focus and prioritize and feel calm in the face of too many competing priorities.
Brain.fm. A subscription service that plays music (or rather music-like sound) that has embedded frequencies that claim to enhance your brain’s ability to focus, meditate, sleep, and a few other things. I’m a bit sceptical about the claims about those brain frequencies, but it does help me stay on task.
I use the Hemingway App for every appeal I write.
Grasshopper, a virtual phone system that forwards calls to cellphones.
Zapier (a workflow automation system) to automatically import new donor info into our Email Service Provider.
Canva.com to design newsletters.
(Thanks to Michelle, Bronwyn, Amelia, Tracey, Sarah, Jeff, Alena.)
Systems and approaches for productivity
At a higher level than apps are whole productivity systems. These usually require some learning curve, and you have to stick to it to make it work for you. Here are some approaches our members use:
The Pomodoro Technique. It’s a lifesaver. (Check it out here)
The book Atomic Habits is great for developing productive habits.
The Full Focus Planner, a paper daily planner that helps with planning, goal setting and tasks.
The Getting Things Done methodology (Find out more here)
(Thanks to June, Kristen, Sally.)
Other productivity tools
There are so many other tools and disciplines that can boost your productivity. Some have been making people’s lives easier for centuries. Here are some tools our members love:
A deep stack of quality legal pads and a plentiful supply of black-ink cartridges for my ballpoint Cross pen. They slow the process down.
I keep a folder with examples of everything: thank-you letters, appeals, welcome packs, holiday greetings, survey follow-ups, special anniversary thank you, donation certificates, tax receipts, everything I can get my hands on. Before I write I go through this file and get inspired.
Listening to music while I work, as long as it is suitably bland, it somehow it keeps me on track.
Meditation. When I catch myself procrastinating I force myself to meditate for 5 minutes and just focus on my breathing.
(Thanks to Tom, Susanne, Sarah.)
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