I want to get real with you for a moment.
In the early years of my fundraising and communications career I was majorly disorganized. People don’t usually believe me when I say that there was a time when my natural tendency is disorganization, but it’s true.
I probably lost more hours than I can count looking for documents that should be a certain place, trying to execute a process for the million time but not remembering certain steps, and losing countless hours to letting my inbox run my to do list.
But I got my wake up call back in 2012. I was managing a project for our team and I was finding it impossible to keep track of all the moving parts and pieces. The crux was that I lost track of the deadlines and we couldn’t get our project finished on time.
I was really embarrassed when this happened. I’d never missed a project deadline before and that experience was enough to kick my butt into gear to make sure it never happened again!
So I committed to learning about project management and productivity. I spent a lot of time reading about systems and processes for managing tasks, projects, and information.
What I found was that notebooks and random Word documents were only going to take me so far in managing a fundraising or communications program. What I really needed were systems. A system is essentially a clear process for how certain tasks should be consistently executed.
Now, you may think that systems and processes are only for large teams. They are not, and I would argue that if you are a team of one, you may get even more benefit from having good systems in place. No matter the team size, we all need systems and tools to help us plan our goals, chart progress towards those goals, develop editorial plans for a communications program as well as specific communications campaigns.
Fortunately, in my search to find a tool that would help me develop better organizational systems, I found Trello and immediately found a tool that allowed me to create systems that worked for me. I finally had a central place to manage processes, store information, and do big picture and operational planning.
Using Trello, I was able to set up a board to track editorial content, create a story bank, create a photo bank, manage the workflow for newsletters, and so much more. The more I used it, the more useful it became. If you’d like to see more behind the scenes of how I use Trello for non-profit communications, check out Trello for NP
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter which tools you use. What matters is that you pick systems and tools that you can consistently use to manage your communications work.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. What’s stopping you from achieving your communications goals? What’s hindering your productivity each week?