Doing It Better

Every so often I have a day where I have absolutely no meetings of any kind and no imminently looming deadlines. “Ahh,” I think. “Finally, a day when I can….”

But what I seem to be able to do on these days is mainly to waste time. Without fail, those are my least productive days.

Days when I am driving all over creation in LA’s horrid traffic, have something urgent due in 24 hours, and in between face to face meetings have phone meetings are the days when I seem to get a lot done.

I don’t think I am unique (well, maybe a little, but not about this). The more time I have to do something, the less I tend to do.

I have a similar issue when it comes to being creative in my work. I find, counter-intuitively, the more structured I am, the freer I am to be innovative in what I am doing.

That’s why I am a big advocate of a written plan—even if that plan takes the form of a (written!) to-do list. If I am going out to a meeting, I do far better if I consider what I want to get out of the meeting, and what I need to bring to the meeting to get my desired results.

After the meeting, I need to record what happened—or I’ll forget, and worse, I’ll forget the most important element. And then I need to consider my next steps.

When I follow these simple procedures, I get more done and I have more time to consider not just what I need to do but how to do it better.


Janet Levine works with nonprofits, helping them to increase their fundraising capacity, excite their boards, and get greater commitment from staff, volunteers, and donors. Learn how she could help you at Or email her and set up a free, 30-minute consultation.