Astronomical Clock, Prague.Time and money — we never seem to have enough of either in the nonprofit sector.

In theory, you can raise an unlimited amount of money with the right skills and dedication to the job. But time is finite — we all get the same 24 hours each day. Right?

While that is technically true, the reality is that some people can find the time to do what’s most important, and to do it well.

The rest of us? We take on too much, create unrealistic expectations for ourselves and others, and try to cram too much into too few hours.

So I think it’s time to stop using time as an excuse. It’s time to be CALM not BUSY.

It’s hard, I know. I am in a constant battle with myself over the bulging calendar and to-do lists.

But when we are more explicit about our lack of time, what we mean to say is:

  • We have too many competing priorities
  • Urgent tasks take precedence over important tasks
  • There are too many interruptions in our work days.

This list is straight from our Nonprofit Communications Trends Survey, and we’ll elaborate on this in more detail in January. These three problems — not time, per se — are what nonprofit staff say is stopping them from getting their best work done.

So it’s not about lack of time at all.

It’s about how we use the time we have. It’s about how much control others have over how we spend our time, whether because their organizational role grants them that power or because we cede it to them ourselves. It’s about treating our time as something more precious than money.

Personal productivity habits and better planning are important parts of the dynamic.  But they aren’t enough to make you feel like you have ample time for your best work.

That takes a wholesale shift if how you approach work, and it takes practice, lots and lots of practice, to stay disciplined.

That’s why this weekend I started re-reading Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (Amazon). It will be my third time. It’s become part of my annual year-end tradition to ground myself and renew my commitment to finding an abundance of time to be at my best and to do my best work.

Want to read (or re-read) along with me?