Association Answers

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Working too much? 6 smart time management hacks for association leaders

Are you the type of association executive who's always on the clock? You might benefit from Protech's time management guide.
Are you the type of association executive who’s always on the clock? You might benefit from Protech’s time management guide.

Are you the type of association executive who does it all? Flying around the office solving everyone’s problems, attending all the important meetings and making each and every business-critical decision?

Of course you are! You’re leading an association, and members are counting on you.

But there’s bad news. Those are strong signs your time management is…so-so. At best.

And it can literally kill you.

OK, you’re probably not working that much, but sometimes it probably feels like it.

So, how can you tell you’re working too much? The fact that you clicked on this blog post is a pretty good indicator…

But if you’re an executive director or you’re in charge of membership, IT, marketing and communications or events for your association, you’re working on behalf of thousands of members. It’s difficult not to work hard.

That shows initiative, and it’s probably how you got into this predicament to begin with. That said, your friends and family would enjoy a couple days a week when you’re home by 6 p.m.

Follow this time management guide and you’ll be home for dinner (at least sometimes).

Knowing is half the battle

Do you count yourself among the 26 percent of Americans who feel they work too hard? That’s a good start.

You can’t reduce your workload if you already think you don’t do enough. And if you’re actively pursuing productivity boosters, there’s certainly enough on your plate.

If you’re part of the association’s leadership team, you might still find yourself working in some capacity on 79 percent of weekend days, as so many CEOs do, according to Harvard Business Review.

The trick is to convince yourself to give in and hand the reins over to your colleagues every now and then.

Empower your colleagues

So you’ve given in. You’ve admitted it. You’re not exactly the champion of time management.

Few are, really. The good news is your admission of less-than-spectacular time management has you on the fast-track toward maximum productivity.

At Protech Associates, we like to ask our teammates, “How can I help?” It’s a simple question, but one that’s always appreciated. Most importantly, it takes an added burden off of someone who’s schedule is already full.

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Subscribe to Protech’s monthly newsletter for more association tips.

In some association offices, maybe that question isn’t being asked. If that’s the case for you, take initiative and focus on what the Harvard Business Review calls “have-to-do” tasks.

Those tasks are pretty self-explanatory. They’re the ones you have to do, activities which can’t be handed off to any old colleague.

With the right tools in place, however, you’ll be able to hang onto you’re have-to-do tasks while delegating the others with full confidence. Turning over authority to a colleague also fosters a mutual respect, as both parties will sense a growing level of trust.

What are the benefits of delegating some tasks to other association staffers?

  1. Give staff more responsibility.
  2. Allow colleagues an opportunity to make the best use of the familiar and functional products you’ve put in their hands.
  3. You’ll spend more time focused on what’s most important.

Find the right time-saving tools

Maybe Step 2 doesn’t work for you. Maybe that’s because you don’t have a single source for all your data or a one-stop-shop where all your business critical tools can be accessed.

If that’s the case, this section’s for you, executive director at a mid-size or smaller association.

Are you the hands-on executive, the one people come to when they need a problem solved today? Maybe that’s eating up too much of your time.

“A surprisingly significant fraction (11 percent, on average) of our CEOs’ work time was consumed by routine duties,” wrote the Harvard Business Review.

Does that sound like you? Want to slash that time spent on less important tasks? Find a hyper-functional system backed by top-of-the-line customer support.

Instead of coming to you with every minor question that makes your head spin, your staff needs access to certified professionals who can help answer questions while you focus on your “have-to-do” tasks.

Having trouble giving up full control? There’s plenty of data out there proving that working too much is bad for your health. So when you’re looking for your next big software upgrade, whatever it may be, make sure there’s plenty of end-user support. Who knows, maybe answering five fewer questions per day could tack a few extra weeks onto your life!

All that effort might be for nothing

You put in 70 hours this week. Monday through Friday, you were the first in and first out, and everybody knows it. You wear that 70-hour work week like a badge of honor.

Turns out, you may have wasted 14 hours.

According to the Institute for the Study of Labor, those who worked 70 hours per week didn’t achieve much more than those who logged a 56-hour work week.

With improved time management, here's what you could achieve in a day.
With improved time management, look at what you could accomplish!

Instead of working too much, what could you do in 14 hours? [Check out the infographic!]

Or, with those 14 extra hours, just enjoy a day to yourself.

An NPR poll found half of Americans who work more than 50 hours per week don’t use all of their vacation time. If you’ve made it this far in our blog post, we’d like to think you earned at least one day off. Or maybe start with a half day. Don’t start too strong!

Spend time strategizing

Remember the last time you sat back and kicked your feet up in your office, pondering the future? Probably not, right? That’s the danger of working too much. It limits your creativity.

Try to set aside 30 minutes per week to strategize. If not more. And if your AMS allows you to track member engagement, spend a couple minutes learning which pieces of your content is most popular with members. It can help guide you association in the direction your members want to go, not necessarily the direction your staff thinks is best.

In the Harvard Business Review study, only 3 percent of CEOs spent time with customers. If that directly correlates to association leaders and their relationships with members, maybe it’s smart to involve members in those strategy sessions.

“A compelling strategy — if well understood throughout the organization — is motivating and energizing. And without clarity on strategy, the CEO will be drawn into too many tactical decisions,” Harvard Business Review writes.

Steps to improve your time management

If you feel you’re working too hard, or you’re noticing duplication of effort at you association, it’s time for a change. And fast.

Find an AMS which integrates with your accounting software of choice, a quality email marketing system, a community platform, your learning management solution and more.

By implementing systems to boost staff productivity and saving their time and effort, all that productivity will trickle up to the leadership — which is you!

Looking to learn more? Chat with a member of the Protech team to find out how your association can boost its productivity exponentially on one easy-to-use system.