How are you improving your productivity in 2015?


plates spinningFor the last few decades, I’ve been on a quest to become more productive with the time I’ve been given. My counselor introduced me to the idea of mindfulness, meditation, and breathing exercises. Microsoft introduced all of us to Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. David Allen and Stephen Covey introduced us to time management strategies, tools and techniques.

Truthfully, all of these things have helped make me a more productive person, but I’m still looking for the holy grail.

Why?

I’m not sure. It could be a loose screw in my head. Or could it be that 24 hours in a day is simply not enough? Perhaps, it is most likely that as I get older life feels like it is going faster and faster with more balls to juggle and plates to spin.

With all of this going on in the background of my life, I was drawn to the question Beth Kanter posed in her January 2015 Nonprofit Blog Carnival call for submissions post:

How are nonprofit folks strengthening their personal productivity online muscles in 2015?

I’m dividing this post into two sections. First, I want to talk about some of the new things I’ve been pursuing online to boost productivity. Second, I will talk about what I am doing off-line to tame the online beast that I’m feeding.

Online productivity

jugglerOn March 28, 2012, I published a blog post titled “Getting your ducks . . . er . . . volunteers in a row“. I talked a lot about various online services and software I had started using to work with volunteers such as Doodle, Google docs, GoToMeeting, etc. However, it was clear that I had fallen in love with an online project management service called Basecamp.

For the last few years, I’ve exclusively used Basecamp to work with my non-profit and executive coaching clients. It is intuitive and easy to use. Its functionality simply falls into the following areas: shared calendar, task list, documents file cabinet and writeboards.

I know this service fills a need in my non-profit clients’ professional lives. I know it because I’ve seen some of them continue their usage of Basecamp after our engagement ended. As our lives get busier and busier, Basecamp provides non-profit professionals and volunteers a virtual online space where they can collaborate and get work done without having to call another in-person meeting.

With all of this being said, I’m no longer convinced that Basecamp is the end all and be all of online collaboration services. A few weeks ago one of my clients asked me to look into Microsoft’s SharePoint and, much like Alice, I seem to have fallen down a rabbit hole.

Since the end of December, I’ve sunk time into:

  • watching YouTube videos about SharePoint
  • reading the book “Office 365 in Business” by David Kroenke and Donald Nilson
  • reading the book “SharePoint 2013 for Dummies” by Ken Withee
  • speaking with friends who use SharePoint in their office

Embarrassingly, I must admit that I’m still trying to wrap my head around what exactly SharePoint is and how to use it. I’m not a “tech-dummy,” but the functionality of this software/service is huge. In the interest of brevity, here is how Ken Withee summarizes the question of “What is SharePoint?” on page 40 of the Dummy’s Guide book I just referenced:

“Officially, Microsoft represents SharePoint as a “business collaboration platform for the enterprise and web.” SharePoint is a platform from Microsoft that allows business to meet their diverse needs in the following domains: collaboration; social networking; information portals and public websites; Enterprise content management; business intelligence; and business applications.”

In other words, it does A LOT and it is complicated.   🙂

I’ve concluded that the 21st Century will be a time of online evolution for non-profit organizations in the area of productivity and collaboration. In just the last few years, I’ve personally seen it with my clients as some embraced Basecamp and now others appear to be checking out SharePoint.

If you are one of those non-profits investigating Basecamp versus SharePoint, I found this awesome compare/contrast page created by TrustRadius. This is definitely worth the click!

Please scroll down and use the comment box to share some of your thoughts and experiences regarding Beth Kanter’s January 2015 Nonprofit Blog Carnival question. We can all learn from each other!

Offline productivity

meditationI remember it like it was just yesterday. In 2006, I started a new job working for a national non-profit organization providing resource development capacity building services to local affiliates. On Day One, I received my first ever “smart phone,” and I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

It was a Palm Treo (you never forget your first true love).  😉

Since that time, I’ve gone from a Treo to a Blackberry to a Motorola Droid Razr to a Nexus 6 (Google’s first attempt at manufacturing a phone after buying Motorola Mobility).

My love of these mobile devices is rooted in the idea of 24/7 connectivity, which makes me feel more productive. However, my love affair has ended, and I’m starting seeing these little hand-held devil boxes as a ball-and-chain that adds weight to my work-life-balance challenges.

As I said in the beginning of this post, I started working with a counselor almost two years ago. Without getting too personal or entering the realm of TMI, let me just say that I’m working on stress and anxiety reduction strategies that include mindfulness, breathing and meditation.

As online services provide non-profit professionals greater levels of productivity, the price many of us likely pay is stress, anxiety, conflict, and loss of balance. Ironically, all of these things place a drag on our productivity.   LOL

For those of you looking for resources and advice about stillness and meditation, I suggest checking our Russell Simmon’s book “Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple“. It is an easy read and a wonderful place to start.

In the end, I believe you need to blend online and offline strategies to move the needle on your personal and professional productivity.

What are your thoughts? Please share your experiences in the comment box below.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

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About DonorDreams

Erik got his start working in the non-profit field immediately upon graduation with his masters degree in 1994. His non-profit management and fundraising experience numbers nearly 20 years. His teachable point of view around resource development is influenced by the work of Penelope Burk and those professionals subscribing to a "donor centered" paradigm. Donors have dreams and it is our responsibility to be dream-makers because donors are not ATMs.

Posted on January 20, 2015, in nonprofit, technology and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Thanks for sharing this post in the 2015 Jan. Nonprofit Blog Carnival on productivity. http://www.bethkanter.org/productivity-carnival/

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