Is productivity important to you? It must be! When time and financial resources are limited, but the need to create and produce is immense (and growing), knowing how to boost/harness your productivity is critical.

So how do you boost productivity? I know a large number of amazingly productive communicators, so I asked a few of them the question:

“What is your #1 method, tool or tip for being productive and getting things done? When you KNOW that you need to have a super productive day, what do you do?” 

I’ve shared their answers below. Here are seven excellent productivity-boosting tips for nonprofit communicators:

1. Use Trello

“Non-profit communicators wear many hats. I use Trello, a free browser-based tool, to help me tackle my to-do list without getting overwhelmed or distracted by other tasks. I break down the category of my tasks (ex. public relations, social media, writing, etc.) into what they call “Boards.” Within a board is my list of related tasks (“to-dos”). Trello makes it easy to track the progress of tasks, add notes, share updates with colleagues, add checklists and even labels for organization. And it’s always rewarding to move a task into a “done” section!”

-Linda Alberts
Public Relations Coordinator
National Alliance for Youth Sports


2. Work from home

“I work at home on those days to avoid interruptions in the office. If I must work in the office, I put a red card on my door asking for no interruptions and for coworkers to contact me by email.”

Jennifer Charney
Communications Manager
Save the Redwoods League


3. Take frequent breaks

“One of the most valuable tips has come to me from a former colleague, and it is simply to take frequent breaks. Every hour or so, I take about 5-10 minutes to grab a cup of tea. It may seem counterintuitive to productivity, but as he said, ‘There will always be work, and there’s always time for tea.’ During those breaks, when we took a step back from the work, was when we could also reflect on how we could complete our tasks, better, faster, and more efficiently. Beyond that, it also helped to keep us happy and focused.”

-Jason Shim
Digital Media Manager
Pathways to Education Canada


4. End the work day with a to-do list

“As simple as this may sound, the key for me to ensure productivity starts at the end of my workday. I develop a list of items that need to be checked off for the next day. I feel better prepared and less time is wasted when I get to my office the following day. My productivity is also stronger later in the day, and with a list fresh in my mind during my commute home, I will often think of new ideas related to my projects. Not only do I feel like I get a jumpstart on my tasks, there’s an increased chance of having some fresh or creative ideas to help me tackle them!”

-Sherry Calder
Senior Manager, Communications
Canadian Diabetes Association


5. Use Evernote

“One of the best choices I’ve made when it comes to productivity is using a note-taking service like Evernote. It allows you to keep notes, web clippings, lists, articles, and everything else in one place. With Evernote, my desk and office stay relatively paper-free. Everything is right at my fingertips and I don’t have to spend precious time sorting through tablets or Post-Its to find what I want. It also syncs to all of my devices so I can use it at home, at work, or on the go. If I have a fleeting thought or bright idea on the weekend, I can just open my app and add it to my work notebook. It is the perfect organizer and time saver, and I can’t imagine my work life without it! (Note: I am not affiliated with Evernote and this is not a paid endorsement. I’m just a fan!)”

-Kelly Rembold
Marketing Specialist
Lark Enterprises, Inc.


6. Organize/divide the work

“When I need to be super productive and clear something off my to-do list, my trick is to ensure I have everything I need at my fingertips when starting the task. At times I can be easily distracted, so if I need to complete a particular project (ie: writing a report) that requires background info (ie: stats/quotes), I split the job into two parts: research and writing. There are temptations when I try to research as I write: social media to check, related articles to read, concepts to explore. None of them take me to the writing stage faster. If I focus on gathering relevant research as step one and then tackle the writing as step two, I find I am much more successful in staying focused.”

-Angela de Burger
Manager, Communications 
YMCA Canada


7. Schedule wisely

“I find I’m more productive in the early morning. Different people function better at different times of the day, so once I realized this about myself, I got in the habit of working earlier, and scheduling meetings in the afternoon (when possible). When facing competing deadlines in a given week, I find it helpful to prioritize my “to do” list and get started on bigger projects earlier. I’m a multitasker, and I like to move from project-to-project throughout the day. With this in mind, I break up projects into 45 minute chucks and spend time on Project A, Project B and then Project C before going back to Project A. This keeps my mind fresh and prevents me from getting worn out.”

-Heather Cosentino
Communications Specialist 
ABC Life Literacy Canada


For me, it’s all about setting a timer. I schedule 50 minute segments (usually several a day) dedicated to moving forward on specific projects. During those 50 minutes, I close down email, ignore the phone and don’t allow myself to do anything but the task at hand. Imposing this discipline works amazingly well for me.

And you? What is your favourite method, tool or tip for boosting productivity?

Marlene Oliveira

Marlene Oliveira

Communications advisor and copywriter at moflow
Marlene Oliveira is communications consultant and copywriter at moflow and founder of the Nonprofit MarCommunity blog. Having worked in the nonprofit sector since 1999, Marlene specializes in working with capacity building and grant-making organizations, advising on communications strategy, and writing stories and other content.
Marlene Oliveira
Marlene Oliveira