Is it just me, or are grant professionals obsessed with numbered lists? I see them everywhere – from blog posts to webinars to podcast episodes. Top 8 ways to ruin a grant proposal. Top 25 tech tools to improve your productivity. Top 5 prospect research companies. We all love a good list, especially a checklist, but goodness!
And listen, I’m just as guilty for writing and reading said lists. They are catchy, plus I find myself constantly looking for that next tip, tool, or hack to make me a faster, better, more productive grant professional. But when I stop and think about it, do I really need five project management platforms, 86 ways to communicate with my clients, and 22 software programs to check my spelling and grammar? It is easy to become so consumed with the next gadget that will make work easier that you suddenly spend half your time playing with tools and not doing the actual work.
As we wrap up 2022 and start planning for 2023, I’d like to make a suggestion: SIMPLIFY.
Rather than constantly trying out the next best thing, look at the tools you already own and use, and then put the most effective one or two into action. (And drop the ones that are not doing anything for you except costing you money and taking up space on your laptop and in your brain.) For instance, a simple daily calendar listing the work I need to accomplish gets the job done. I list the nitty gritty details and pair them with a monthly to-do list to track big projects and their deadlines. That’s it.
When working with a team, I like to find the one tool that works for everyone. My Podcast cohost Kimberly and I have been experimenting over the years with the right platform (for price and functionality) that will keep us on track and on deadline. It’s not a bad idea to try different platforms to see what works and what doesn’t, especially if they have a free version or a trial session. But once you find the one that works, there is no need to juggle three options. This year we finally decided to go all in with Asana, and I’m hopeful it will get the job done, because I’m ready for a consistent tool that serves all our needs.
This does not mean you must stop paying attention to all the top numbered lists. (Because let’s face it, we love our lists!) You never know when you will learn something new that might make you more productive in your work. Or you might realize that the OG system you’re using is still the best thing going. In fact, if you are jonesing for a top 10 list, my Fundraising HayDay cohost Kimberly and I just released our 2022 Top 10, complete with recommendations from 10 grant professionals: The Top Ten Productivity Tools Used by Our #GrantProBookClub (podbean.com). My advice: try the one that holds the most promise in helping you get the essential jobs done. See if it works and go from there with other tools. And remember, funding your organization’s work is way more important than any list, no matter how dazzling it may sound.
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