improve fundraising results part 2: filters and boundaries

Everyone knows about and even some of us use “to do” lists. Today we’re talking about thinking about “stop doing” lists. Or as I sometimes tell clients is the “Scarlett O’Hara swear”. That’s when after further review you solemnly swear that as Scarlett said “As God as my witness, I’ll never do that again.” OK, that’s a slight paraphrase but you get my point.

After you make your lists from the last post on making 2013 a better year, it’s time to think about filters and boundaries (or in Thomas-speak: “stop doings”).

Let’s talk about filters. Filters is my generic term for the ways you’re going to reduce and manage the noise and flood of information that comes to you every day. What am I talking about?

First start with emails. As part of my review, I sorted my inbox by sender.

It’s all the emails I received in 2012 to my Oneicity email addresses. There were 18,719 to my main email (yikes). I sorted by sender. That’s where I could see the “junk” I’d signed up for and didn’t want any more. “Unsubscribe.”

Then I looked at what was left. Could I get rid of half of the “content” I’d received? Those are the blog feeds, aggregators, etc.

Yep. I unsubscribed to nearly half of those.

Automatically, in theory at least, I’ve reduced my inflows and what I have to deal with in 2013.

I read blogs and online content on three tools: Pulse for blogs, Flipboard for blogs and just a little Instapaper.

I went to each and reviewed what was there. Pulse has a limit to the number of blogs that I can have so I tried to open up at least a third of those — which was tough. I did the same sort of thing with Flipboard and Instapaper. I usually send interesting blogs to Evernote (I send EVERYTHING to Evernote: emails I want to remember, blogs to read later, checklists, notes . . . it’s an amazing tool that if you’re not using, you’re missing out (but that’s another post for another day).

So that’s how I filter. I recommend you do the same. 2013 will be better if you look at what flows in and decide to reduce it.

Now let’s talk boundaries. This is where Scarlett and I (and hopefully you) will look up to heaven and say: “I’ll never do that again . . .”

Here’s what my work boundaries and Scarlett “swears” are for 2013:

1. I won’t read email first thing in the morning.

2. I won’t look at ANY social media first thing on a work-morning.

3. I won’t start any day without closely examining my schedule for the next day.

4. I won’t start any day without making sure I know what my most important task is (this is the “big next” for that day.

5. I won’t read business or leadership books until I’ve practiced more of what I know.

6. I’ll do my best (notice the change from “won’t” – I just can’t say “won’t” on this one) to not do calls before I’ve taken time to plan or write.

That’s enough about me . . . get the idea?

So find time to filter. If you can find time to read those emails (or delete them or mark them “read”) you can take time to filter and make choices for 2013.

Then start your boundaries list. Think meetings you don’t have to have. Or meetings you don’t have to call! Think about how you can push out a few of the time-sinks in your work like so you can make room for the cool stuff.

More on how this works next time. Get some inspiration from Scarlett and decide to take control of what you can. 2013 will be grand.

What do you think? Would you share 1 boundary for 2013 — one place you’re going to do a Scarlett? The tribe would love to see some examples. 2013’s going to be grand.

Steve Thomas
Partner, Oneicity

Picture of Steve Thomas

Steve Thomas

3 thoughts on “improve fundraising results part 2: filters and boundaries”

  1. Good points all. I’m getting better at points 1&2. “3. I won’t start any day without closely examining my schedule for the next day.” really caught my eye as a good one to put into practice. Thanks!

  2. @Tim — Thank you! #3 made a difference in my ability to do what I thought was most important. Can’t tell you the number of times my day changed from what I’d planned just because I waited until the morning to really examine the days priorities…
    Good to hear from you.

  3. Steve:
    Great article to put into practice. I’ve been using Evernote for a year now. It’s reliable, well organized (by tag, date, etc) and even allows me to photograph anything with my phone that I don’t have time to put into words. It’s become my digital “idea cabinet.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.