Where are you going this year? Do you have a destination that excites you? What will working on the journey require of you? More time? Being an effective nonprofit leader can take a lot of time. Time is the one thing you cannot grow or expand. Not news to you I am sure. This is the time of year when you may be thinking about goals – maybe even dreams! Research tells us that only 3% of people take the time to write down goals and chart a course to achieve them! I encourage you to be one of them.

Maybe you’re thinking: writing down goals (read: not more New Year’s resolutions!) doesn’t work for me. I don’t have time to think about it let alone create a plan for myself! Well, I have some good news for you!

You know that to achieve goals you have to focus time and attention on them. But, like other nonprofit leaders, you probably feel that you don’t have the time you need. Some findings from a Harvard Business School study might help. Based on their work with thousands of leaders, Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy developed and tested a pilot energy management program at a national bank. Employees reported: “There are increasing demands in our workplace; we are responding by putting in more hours—doing more with less.” Sound familiar? Schwartz and McCarthy found these circumstances led to higher staff turnover, declining physical health, increased distraction, and other signs of mental and emotional strain.

While time is a finite resource, energy is not. After implementing their program, comparing the pilot group and the control group yielded striking results! Pilot group employees established rituals and behavior that increased their energy. With increased energy (not increased time) the productivity of the pilot group was 15-25% greater than the control group and the pilot group put in less time at work!! Wouldn’t you like to have a result like that? Other positive results included improved customer relationships (your donors, your stakeholders), increased engagement (your board), and increased job satisfaction (your staff). Wow!

Next time I’ll share some of the specific behaviors of their program. Please comment below and share  how you think you can increase your energy. Better yet, try something and report back the results you get!

(Schwartz, T. & C. McCarthy, Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time, Harvard Business Review, October, 2007)