I like to schedule my work day as efficiently as possible, especially during a typical day without meetings or alumni visits. As a fundraiser, it’s important to create a healthy balance of portfolio/prospect management, while also staying on top of projects to ensure deadlines are met.
Below is a schedule that I’ve found works best for me:
5:30am: Wake up and workout
I am not a morning person #fakeittillyoumakeit. However, I feel very productive if I can squeeze in a workout early in the morning. With the exception of pick-up basketball, I don’t enjoy finding the time to workout after 5pm. Instead, waking up early will ensure I get a workout in and clear my mind before the morning rush begins.
6:30am: Shower, dress, and pack meals.
Two habits that save me time are 1) pick out my clothes the night before and 2) assemble my meals the night before. I save a ton of time (and money) making my lunch and breakfast in advance. After I complete a workout, I have scrambled eggs, oatmeal or an omelet that’s been prepared the night before. All I need to do is shower, dress and re-heat breakfast. Then, I pack my pre-made lunch before I head out the door.
Living in Manhattan, New York has its pros and cons. A pro: I usually don’t drive to work! Max out your commute by preparing materials in advance and leave early to avoid rush hour. Before I board the A train, I download a few podcasts to keep me entertained before I get to the office.
8:30am-8:45am: Settle in
Getting an early start helps me prepare for my day without feeling rushed. Even arriving at the office 15 minutes early will allow me to catch up on emails, review my to-do list, and prepare for my most urgent tasks for the day.
9:30am: ‘Power hour’
One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I will get more work finished if I commit to finishing dull tasks right away. For me, that might include reaching out to donors via phone to schedule meetings or replying to voicemails. For others, that may mean replying to day- old emails or stopping by finance to process complicated gifts.
Commit at least an hour to complete those “dreaded” tasks first, and I guarantee you’ll feel empowered to excel at other tasks throughout the day.
Make it a practice to leave your desk or office during lunch. Going for a walk and getting some fresh air is a great way to refresh your mind and body. I bring lunch to work on most days; still, I make it a habit to get out, walk around, or go for a drive if I have my wheels.
2:00pm: Projects and follow-ups
Once you’ve checked off your most pressing tasks, get back to working on projects listed on your to-do list. I spend my afternoons working on upcoming events (by processing gifts, collecting rsvps, reaching out to vendors, etc.) or planning digital content for my teams (social media, web content, digital solicitations, etc.)
4:30: Make a ‘To- do’ list
Making a ‘to-do’ list the day before will help you immensely when you arrive in the office the following morning. Not only does this advance planning help me remember and organize important tasks, but prepping them in advance provides me with clear direction first thing in the morning.
5:30pm: Head to donor event, competition, etc.
Depending on the time of year, you may have 2-3 events in a week after work. Remember to pack some extra after work snacks for those times. Also, always keep a blazer or back-up suit in the office. It’s good practice in case you forget about a game, if you have an impromptu donor meeting, or if you’re like me and spill leftovers on your clothes during lunch. ☺ Be prepared.
7:30pm: Eat, meal prep and unwind
Unless you’ve had ‘that’ kind of day where you need to head straight to bed, take a few minutes to unwind. If I’m working late, I’ll grab a small snack when I get home and pack meals for the next day. Side note: meal prepping on the weekend allows me to portion out pre-made dishes (casseroles, pastas, proteins, etc.) and package them so I have one less thing to prepare throughout the week.
If you’re lucky and have a free evening, consider squeezing in a workout if you didn’t have the chance to earlier. On free evenings, I like to make time for personal things — that could be anything from coupon cutting, watching a show, or calling family.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Sleep is SO important for your mental and physical health. Planning, meal prepping and working out will do you no good without the right amount of sleep. Be vigilant about getting your healthy sleep amount (for me that = 8 hours) and stick to that number each night. Contrary popular belief, catching up on sleep during the weekend may not do your body good. If it comes between staying up later to check out Instagram, text friends, binge watch Netflix or check work emails… opt for rest instead.