Even in these strange and scary times, the giant back-to-school supply bins in my local big box store make me smile. It’s the siren call of all those blank pages, pristine pencil leads, and unsullied calendars and planners.
“Take us home,” they whisper. “Together we’ll be so perfectly organized.” I’m a sucker for fresh starts, and the promise of perfect organization. And I can’t be the only one who loves a good office supply aisle.
For years, I tried this planner, or that app, or highlighted entire pages in the latest productivity best seller. I listed, sorted, categorized, and filed myself into a frenzy every September, and then started again in January when the fresh calendars rolled out.
And then, the worst thing of all emerged a few years ago (cue scary music)…the bullet journal. To me, bullet journals are the Instagram fitness accounts of productivity tools. Spotless refrigerators filled with pristine mason jars of rainbow-colored salads have their counterpart in sticker-filled daily and weekly calendars with sketches rivaling hipster coffee shop chalked signs.
Pride forbids me from revealing how much money and time I spent on colored pencils and formatting graph-paper journals. Let’s just say it wasn’t time well spent. I could have been completing the projects, writing the grants, running the meetings, and drafting the letters instead of berating myself for not producing letter-perfect, faultlessly organized agendas or task lists for online apps. Or, I could have been spending time with my family, diving into a good book, or walking through woods.
Since I started Hays de Muga Consulting in 2018, I’ve done a 180 when it comes to productivity tools. I keep online and written calendars, run Scrum boards, move projects online with clients, and stay on top of it all with a cork bulletin board with thumbtacks and post-it notes. It is double-entry, but it works for me. No more tilting at windmills of unachievable levels of productivity perfection.
In the most recent episode of the Fundraising HayDay Podcast, co-host Amanda Day and I interviewed a productivity expert. Avi Schneier is the Principal Consultant for Agile Technologies. He works with Fortune 500 companies and nonprofits around the world to incorporate Scrum productivity and Agile cultures.
In this episode [Nonprofit Productivity with Less Stress (podbean.com)], this renowned leader in these highly structured tools and concepts blew my mind with his succinct reply to my question about how to fit daily Scrum meetings and other systems into nonprofits and local governments stretched to the limits. He said that productivity tools work for you; you don’t work for them.
I knew that.
But I hadn’t paid attention to how easy it is to get distracted from the basic truth of it. App-based or paper. On the wall or online. White boards or phone screens.
The best productivity tool for you? It’s the one you’ll use.
DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services, LLC is so excited to be season 4 sponsors for Fundraising HayDay, a podcast about grants and such. Catch up on seasons 1 – 3 and stay up to date on the new season here.
Don’t let grants stress you out, check out the helpful grant writing services our team has to offer here.