3 Steps to a More Productive January

I like to call January the “get down to business” month.

Surely you’ve set some big goals for your nonprofit to achieve in 2014, and now it’s time to translate those goals into action.

Are you serious about achieving your goals this year?  Follow these 3 simple tips, and make some real progress towards your goals this month.

1. Create a dashboard, and use it

A dashboard is a tool that tracks your goal progress and gives you an easy-to-digest snapshot of how your organization is doing.  Here’s a screen shot of an example:

With a quick glance at your dashboard, all members of your staff and board have the information needed to acknowledge and celebrate where you’re thriving, and to give attention where you’re not seeing the results you want.

Dashboards are easy to create, so if you don’t already have one, get it done this month!  If you’re looking for a simple dashboard template, shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to share one with you.

Once you have your dashboard created, use it!  Refresh your dashboard every month and hold a staff meeting to review and discuss how things are going. Why not get that meeting on the calendar for early February right now?

2. Ask yourself, “what’s new (and maybe a little scary)?”

For each of your goals, ask yourself, “what’s new?”

What new activities, behaviors, and skills are required of you and your team to achieve your biggest, boldest, and most audacious goals in 2014?

(And if you’re sitting there scratching your heard right now, then you might have played your planning a little too safe. It’s never too late to revisit your plans and raise the bar and make 2014 your biggest year yet.)

Whenever you’re required to do something new, there are going to be some fears, doubts, and nerves that creep in.  That’s ok – expect that to happen!  What you can’t allow is for these limiting beliefs to run the show and stop you from taking action.

So for every new goal, you need to create a new routine, which takes discipline and repetition.  Follow these steps:

  • Identify an action that you need to take every single day in January (and thereafter) to make progress on this goal.  Aiming high with major donor fundraising this year?  Call a major donor every day.
  • Add it to your to-do list.  I’m using Trello to keep me on track with my new routines – check it out!
  • Don’t leave the office until you’ve crossed it off your list.  Really!
  • Make it fun and rewarding.  Keep a scorecard of all of the daily actions you’ve completed.  If it’s donor phone calls, then record the name of every donor you’ve reached out to.  Look at your list and admire all of the small steps you’ve taken to achieve your big goal.

3.  Look out at the horizon and get the ball rolling NOW

I know you’ve got a lot of things planned for the year, and you can’t get it all done in January.  I’m sure there are some goals that feel far away right now, and you’re probably thinking, “we don’t have to worry about that yet.”  Planning a big fundraiser or event later in the year?  Or maybe you’re creating a new staff position and you want to hire in the second half of the year.

If you’re only focused on the here and now, then you’re quickly going to lose ground with some of your longer-term goals.

The first step is to get those big milestones on your organizational calendar now.  If you haven’t already, schedule that big event, or share your hiring deadline with your staff and board.

Once the milestone is on your calendar, take one action step this month.  Go check out spaces for that event, or write your job description (and why not post it?).  By taking these first steps, you create an energy of forward motion that will pull you forward, so you never have the opportunity to get stuck.

Now, it’s time to get down to business!  

Start by leaving a comment below.  I’d love to hear:

  • What are your biggest and boldest goals for 2014?
  • What daily action are you committing to that will take you closer to your goal – one step at a time?

Happy 2014!  Let it be your biggest year yet.