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Make 2018 Your Year of Efficiency

As grant professionals, we spend a great deal of time on many different tasks. While the importance of time invested and resources required to complete said tasks vary tremendously, we are beholden to our calendars. In addition, our priorities tend to be set by upcoming deadlines and leadership goals and expectations. Given these competing priorities, I can sometimes feel overwhelmed by all of the work on my plate. As we start 2018, I want you to consider this becoming your year of efficiency. Let's discuss what this means. 

First, create an Excel spreadsheet or use project management and/or grants management software to input all of your upcoming tasks that you need to complete. I mean, everything! Start out with the knowns (applications, reports, correspondence, annual reports, etc.) and then dive into larger projects (standard operating procedures, technology upgrades and data imports, etc.). Then some “known unknowns” such as new prospects you have yet to identify or training that you have not yet signed up to attend. These can be left as placeholders.
Here comes the tricky and time intensive part of the process. Once you have your list of tasks, start to include deadlines for each task and also sub-tasks. For instance, I am sure that there could be several steps to complete a federal grant application. Have you included the main sub-tasks? Your list would also start to identify key personnel involved in the sub-tasks and if they are responsible for leading or preparing certain components. If you can date these as well, that will be helpful. The good thing is that by doing this now you can then transfer this information to your list next year. You don't need to start from scratch.
Once you have your list, sort it by deadline so you can see your monthly activity outlook. Are there tasks or sub-tasks that you can group together? Are there sub-tasks that you can perform while waiting for feedback or additional information? Can you hand off certain tasks or sub-tasks? The more granular the detail, the easier it is to get a sense of your outlook. Once you can map out a schedule, you can leave room for training or last-minute priorities that can throw off your schedule.
Efficiency is built on maximizing the resources you have on hand. If lack of resources, time or personnel continually hinder your progress, this could indicate a larger issue to be addressed with organizational leadership. Your time is valuable, so make it work for you!
How will you maximize your efficiency in 2018?
Rachel Werner is the Owner and CEO of RBW Strategy, LLC and provides grants and project management consulting support to nonprofits, government and business entities.
GPC Competencies: 

04 - Effective Grant Applications
07 - Professionalism