How To Fend Off Post-Summer Panic Before It Even Starts
Do the math and plan ahead for success.
Spring is definitely in the air! Last year I shared some very popular advice among funders at the start of the summer. The response was so great, I would love to share it again to prepare for the upcoming months.
In between client engagements, I'm getting busy with finalizing summer plans - projects around the house, family vacations, camps for the kids - and I know that many of my clients and colleagues are busy doing the same. If this year is like many others before it, we'll dive into hectic summer schedules and breathe a sigh of relief in September as we wave our children back to school. Then we'll take a good hard look at the work we've yet to accomplish and feel a surging sense of post-summer panic.
We all do it. That's why I usually get a rash of calls in September about projects that must either expend budgets or see deliverables before the end of the year. After all, at that point there's really only one quarter left in which to get it all done.
How do you avoid the after-summer panic? Simply do the math.
There are 261 standard work days this year. As of today, May 14th, there are 165 work days left. Assuming you are planning at least one summer vacation, you could narrow that number to 160.
More than one-third of the year is over already. In 35 more working days, we'll be at the half-way mark. Are you one-third of the way through your goals? Are you close to half way for the year?
If not, try this: Use the next 2-3 days to plan for success, and the remaining 32-33 days between now and July 2 to get those plans well underway.
- If you've not yet set goals for the year (heaven forbid!) then determine what's keeping you from naming and committing to them and address it now. This doesn't mean stopping everything for deep planning, but simply taking stock of where you are and where you need to go. (If you can't create annual goals within a day or two, then we need to talk.)
- If you've not made the progress toward the goals you'd like to accomplish, then take a moment to consider why. Is there a partner you need to engage? A grantee you need to meet with? Approval from on high that's been held up along the way? Commit to addressing these needs in the next 35 days.
- Working backwards from your goals, make a list of the milestones that will get you there. What needs to occur by September 1st to keep you on track? What do you need to do this month to ensure that happens? What must you do in the next 35 days to keep you on schedule?
- Reconsider your strategies. What's working well? What needs to be changed in order to be more effective? What can you do in the next 35 days to make that happen?
- Think about your investments in both external and internal capacity. What needs to be enhanced or shifted in the next 35 days? Do grantees seem stymied by a lack of capacity? What could you do to help address it? Are your own staff members overstretched? How could you help make them more productive?
- Re-think your commitment to perfection. My rule of thumb is "If you're 80% there, you move." The remaining 20% will take 75% more time and not provide much value. You can always tweak and course correct along the way.
Of course, steps like these are easy to suggest but sometimes harder to address, especially if you are bogged down by bureaucracy or overloaded with demands. Having an outside perspective can help you cut through the clutter and get you back on track. I'm always willing to provide advice and counsel for grantmakers who want to develop and implement strategies, jump start new initiatives (or ones that have lost some steam), or simply accomplish more — and more rapidly — this year. Also, earlier this year I launched CEO Springboard for new foundation CEOs and leaders who want to catapult their success and impact.
Email me or give me a call at 1-800-598-2102 x1, and we'll make sure you replace your impending post-summer panic with a focused and effective outlook for fall.
© 2018 Kris Putnam-Walkerly. All rights reserved. Permission granted to excerpt or reprint with attribution.