Guard Your Calendar Wisely

Your role as an executive director is much more than a 9-5 job. You may have breakfast meetings, dinner meetings and late evening meetings. Sometimes, your Saturdays turn into full work days, too.

During the day you are meeting with donors, would-be donors, staff, foundation leaders, etc.  On top of that – there are all those board and committee meetings you must attend.

It is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of your role that before you know it, your calendar is controlling you, rather than you controlling your calendar.

It’s not that you don’t want to meet with more people, it’s that you don’t have the time to effectively run your agency, meet with everyone who wants to see you, all the while successfully carrying out your duties as the executive director.

Smart leaders protect their calendar to focus on their primary responsibilities. You have to learn when to say no. You need to take care of the things only you can do. So which tasks should you prioritize and protect when guarding your calendar? Here are four examples of essential tasks nonprofit leaders should be making time for each week:

  1. Call or connect with 1-2 major donors or supporters and 1-2 prospective donors per week to stay in touch.
  2. Review the confidential list of future board candidates and add one name to the list weekly. Leaders should always be looking for highly qualified new board candidates to potentially fill upcoming board openings.
  3. Spend time each week simply thinking about the agency; how it is performing, how it could be improved, and how to make it even more helpful to its clients.
  4. Executive directors need to invest in themselves and their staff weekly. They need to participate in some professional development experience to either sharpen current skills or learn new ones. Examples Include: 
    • Leadership Training: social media, effective fund development techniques, marketing, etc. 
    • Development of their subordinates, direct reports, and team members.
    • Investing in themselves by reading from respected websites and blogs, or attending workshops.

The busyness and unpredictability of the day does not allow the typical executive director sufficient time to do these things on a regular schedule. You will need to carve out time specifically to accomplish these four activities.

Can you carve out the time to do these four activities? More importantly, can you afford not to? How can you make time in your schedule to do these four important activities weekly?

Interested in Strengthening Your Leadership?