Getting the Year off on the Right Foot

Philip Manzano • Jan 14, 2019

The beginning of the year can be overwhelming. Takes these steps to get a handle on everything.

By now, you’ve probably been back in the office for a little bit. And while the holidays were a great way to recharge and feel refreshed, you’re likely feeling a bit overwhelmed as you come into work.

Things that were pushed from last year are still sitting on your desk. The frustration you felt from being under capacity is being relived. Changes were announced to (already delicate) funding structures that you rely on. And for some reason, you have that one co-worker that still humming holiday tunes.

And you’re just a week into the new year. Ugh.

We feel your frustration. But hopefully this will help you find some much needed relief.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing some practical tips to help you get through the first quarter of 2019, like a Rockstar. Our goal is to make sure you don’t feel this frustrated by the time April rolls around.

Some of the topics we will cover include:

  • Project Management
  • Self-Care
  • Fundraising
  • Content Planning

Today, we’ll tackle project management.

Seeing a long to-do list can be scary. But it can also be seen as an opportunity to accomplish something great.


Start by prioritizing those tasks. You can rank them from most important to least important. Or you can rank them from most time-sensitive to least time-sensitive. Whatever system you decide on, just start by ranking these tasks.

Once you have the items ranked from top to bottom, you have a bit of a clearer plan of action. Now you know where to start – and starting is often the hardest part.


Now that you have the tasks laid out in front of you, in the order that you want to complete them, it’s time to break out your calendar.

Break your work day up into chunks of 60 – 90 minutes. It should look something like this:

Start dedicating those time-blocks to the work you have to do to complete each of the tasks on your to-do list. The things you want to cross off first, get put earlier into your work-day.

Also, feel free to take multiple time-blocks to finish a task. Sometimes, that’s necessary and completely okay.

PRO TIP: Make sure to also block off time for yourself. Take a break, walk, chat with a co-worker. These are all important things that you have to be intentional about making time for. This will also help you be more of a force of productivity within the office.

Start at the tail

Big tasks are difficult to complete. And we often start compromising our priority list to avoid taking on the bigger tasks – we’ve all done it.

But one tactic you can take is to break up your big task into even smaller sub-tasks. There is an old saying that goes: “The best way to eat an elephant is to start at the tail”

Although I’m not sure an elephant would be the most appetizing meal, the principle holds true – divide your big task into manageable chunks, until you conquer everything.

For example, if you are tasked with finding new funding for your technology budget in 2019 – you might want to just shove that task in a drawer and lock it forever. But it doesn’t have to be that bad. Instead of swinging for the fences and trying to raise that money yourself – start by making some sub-tasks like:

  • Research technology grants
  • Talk to other nonprofits about funding they have received for technology spending
  • Develop a grant-writing schedule

When you break it up like this, your tasks get much clearer and you’re able to start working with a bit more confidence.

Check things off your to-do list

A long to-do list is daunting – but getting to cross items off that list feels SO GOOD. Don’t rob yourself of a tiny moment of celebration.

When you finish a task, it’s worth celebrating – even if that celebration is as small as putting a check park beside that item. Do it.

It helps you feel more accomplished and encouraged you to move forward to do even more.

Hit a wall? Get pumped!

Hitting a wall while working is pretty inevitable. In those moments you can either fold or find a way to get motivated.

One of the best motivators for us at the office is music. We’ve put together a “Fundraising Fundamentals” playlist just for you, to get you over the hump and back to crushing that never-ending task list!

Listen to it here: