Time is our most valuable asset and we don’t want to give it away without thought. In this episode, we discuss how to use time management strategies to better organize our calendars and make sure we prioritize the work that matters most.
Sammie Holzwarth | Product Manager Grants and Scholarships, Foundant Technologies
In her time with Foundant (since 2011) Sammie Holzwarth has taken on many roles in her path to becoming the Product Manager of Grants & Scholarships. Starting as an intern with Foundant’s Marketing Team, Sammie then moved into a Client Success Manager role – successfully implementing well over 150 clients. Her Foundant adventure next took her to the Sales Team as Foundant’s GLM/SLM Product Implementation Engineer. Her breadth of knowledge and extensive experience working with a plethora of clients and in varying roles at Foundant fuels her passion and excitement to continually improve GLM/SLM, and herself which she now brings to her role as the Product Manager for Grants and Scholarships! Sammie has a passion for youth philanthropy and has spearheaded the Youth Giving Project in Bozeman, MT as well as serving as an Exponent Philanthropy Next Gen Fellow for 2016.
Montana holds a special place in Sammie’s heart as she is a born and raised Montanan; from rolling plains to mountain tops, this is where she feels most at home and takes every opportunity to soak in the outdoors. When traveling beyond the Big Sky State, Sammie loves anywhere with a vibrant culture, and delicious food. Connect with Sammie directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The power of the pause
- Calendar best practices (blocking off time for tasks and meeting prep/ reflection)
- Office hours
- Compass: Connect with other members of the philanthropic community at Community.foundant.com
- Webinars: register here
- Social: Follow Foundant Technologies on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and Instagram
- Website: Foundant.com
Sammie Holzwarth 00:00:00:00
The plan is the plan until the plan changes. It's okay that all the things I thought were getting done this week didn't. But look at this other stuff that did, because I pivoted to the most important priority.
Rachel Myers 00:00:16:09
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Connected Philanthropy Podcast. My name is Rachel Myers. I'm back to guest host another episode. And today we are going to tip toe into the world of time management. How can we use new approaches, mindsets, tools and tips to make the most out of our very precious and also finite time? So Samm Holzwarth is here with us.ie
Rachel Myers 00:00:48:12
Sammie is a product manager at Foundant Technologies, and she is going to share some really cool sort of shifts that she's made in her workflow and around her calendaring that I'm excited to learn from and share with you all. And then we're just going to kind of dig into how can we, how can we do this whole time management thing?
Rachel Myers 00:01:10:08
How can we sort of make our calendars work for us instead of our calendars owning us. Let me tell you a little bit about myself first. For those who I have not been introduced to before, as I mentioned, my name is Rachel Myers. I've been working in the philanthropic and nonprofit sector for the past 24 years. I've been the executive director.
Rachel Myers 00:01:30:08
I was a staffer at my local community foundation. I served on the board of my local public library. I'm a donor. And for the last, like a little over a year, I've been a consultant working with nonprofit organizations and businesses to help them move their important work forward. So I'm super passionate about the topic of working smarter, not harder, because I know how hard all of you who are listening are working and how important the work you're doing is.
Rachel Myers 00:02:02:00
I really feel that I've been in those shoes, so I really want to help us all create a little more space where we can and so that we can work on what's most important to us in our communities and the people around us. So with that said, let's hear a little bit more about Sammie, and I'd love to hear kind of your work story, Sammie, and what led you to where you are now.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:02:25:21
Well, it's it's funny, I get to talk about this. I realized this week I've actually been at Foundant for 11 years, which has gone so fast. But we always joke here at Foundant that I've grown up professionally at Foundant so my story starting 11 years ago of kind of how I got here actually started an intern .
Sammie Holzwarth 00:02:47:22
I hit that moment your senior year of college where you're in this crisis of, okay, I have this degree. What am I going to do? Where where do I go? I had a finance degree. Yeah. What's next? And got a really great opportunity through a friend telling me about, Foundant and really just dove in, like, I'm going to go learn something.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:03:08:17
Boy, did I not know what I was setting up to learn over the course of those 11 years. So I worked I've worked in all different departments here, started in marketing, moved to our client services team, which was really where I fell in love with the space and why I, you know, I'm excited about this conversation we're having today, Rachel, is that people here, what what you all do in the philanthropic community, you your time is so valuable and you want to do more.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:03:39:07
And I saw that frontline client services talking to each client, you know, 5 to 10 clients in a in a day or a week or whatever that look like. So how do we take some of that make you more efficient? I'm really excited about from there. I moved into sales. I worked with our sales team for a while, helping people vet out if found it was the right solution for them.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:04:02:05
And it's in that time that I actually got to work with our local community foundation and got involved with youth philanthropy and getting that started. And so, you know, bringing some of that passion actually, and implementing and getting to work with the next generation of of givers and volunteers and donors really helps ignite, you know, this work that I that we get to show up and do every day.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:04:28:03
And then some point in my journey, I've lost track at this time. But I moved into our product management team, which really in that role, I get to not only solve one client's problem or one community's problem, I get to work with our larger teams on how do we build software and build features that have a larger scale impact.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:04:52:13
How do we you know, I was reading a comment from a client the other day that said your most recent releases have really improved our efficiency and it's like, that is what I want to do. Because, you know, as we're talking time management, Rachel, if you're spending time clicking the button 150 times in a week or whatever that might look like, that's time you don't have for something else.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:05:16:16
And so that's really, you know, my story here. It Foundant and why I get really excited about the work I do and why I'm excited to talk time management today and how they kind of fold together.
Rachel Myers 00:05:27:10
They really do. I mean, you know, they're really truly, as much as we wish it was different, there really are only so many hours in the day and there's so much important work to be done in those hours. So I get that. And becoming more efficient is a huge part of making more good things happen. So let's dive in.
Rachel Myers 00:05:47:14
As I mentioned before, we want to talk today about how to avoid a new term I just made up called Calendar Panic, and I have had calendar panic. We were just talking about. We're recording this at the very end of January and how January has felt very, very full. And some weeks a little too full for for me to feel like I could really wrap my arms around them.
Rachel Myers 00:06:13:20
So let's let's figure out how we can do this better. So I'm curious, Sammie, like, what are some of your biggest challenges when it comes to time management and staying on top of things?
Sammie Holzwarth 00:06:24:01
Yeah, for me it's always that balance of urgent versus important and I really feel that at the beginning of the year, right? We likely, a lot of us just went through our strategic planning and so our important work is very high level, like it's top of mind. We know, okay, over the next six months, over the next year, we're we're working to hit these goals.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:06:47:01
And so blocking that time out and getting it on your calendar so you feel like you're making progress on those important items. But then there's always those creeping things that feel urgent, or maybe they are urgent, right? And they I like in this week, I had come up a couple of times that I got a meeting on my calendar and it was like, Oh, that feels important and urgent.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:07:11:21
But then it's the pause. It's the okay, what is this request or why is this meeting coming up? And for me, you know, the biggest challenge there is is the pushback, right? If and a lot of times a lot of us aren't. We're in control of our own calendars, but requests are coming in for our time. And it's how do you navigate that?
Sammie Holzwarth 00:07:37:14
You know, for for me, it's saying, is this really something that needs to happen this week that you found the 30 minute slot on my calendar or or can it wait or can, you know, there be some prep work or additional work? And it's it's finding that space to ask those questions instead of just hitting accept.
Rachel Myers 00:07:58:27
100%. This reminds me of the conversation that I had with Drea Stevenson about saying no gracefully or in this case saying not now or doesn't need to be now. And I think that is tricky. It's one of those things that's very much easier said than done. And one of the tips that I implemented a few years ago that kind of helped me with that pause and that evaluation moment that you're describing is I started putting all of my tasks for the week onto my calendar.
Rachel Myers 00:08:33:04
I made them at different color than my meetings just so that I knew kind of what was flexible and what wasn't flexible. But it really helped me have that pause of too many. Meeting requests came in and I kept having to move tasks forward. Pretty soon, again, like you run out of time. There's only so many blocks of time on that weekly calendar.
Rachel Myers 00:08:54:09
And so it did help me, just like you're describing kind of, you know, say, wow, do we need does it has does it have to happen that day? Could we do it, you know, fill in the blank for another day. And, you know, that would make it I'd be I think I'd be able to, you know, concentrate and be more fully present if we could move it to another day, because that's another thing.
Rachel Myers 00:09:14:26
Another sort of angle to take. And it's the truth. Like if you know you're going to be scrambling, meeting meeting meeting meeting, meeting all day long, you're probably not going to be as effective in that meeting as if you moved it to another day where you didn't have to, you know, jog in breathless right before the meeting starts.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:09:35:18
Yeah. And one thing I love about that approach to Rachel and I do some of that like calendar blocking of tasks is it helps you understand the trade off that when I when I pause and I need I need to ask for that moment of like, is this urgent? Can it wait? And if someone says no, you know, I, I had that this week.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:09:58:13
Like, no, this really we need to do this right now. It like but if you don't do that calendar blocking I found that I didn't realize what I was trading off and then it's like why is my task list not getting any smaller? But when you have that little physical, like, okay, I moved this calendar block to here to do this, it helps you understand that that subtle reprioritization that you did with your time because you physically moved it.
Rachel Myers 00:10:28:29
Yes. I find that to another thing, less for kind of talking about actually interfacing with your calendar. Another strategy that a friend that I picked up from a friend a year or so ago that was in hindsight so obvious but has been a game changer for me is whenever possible. And granted this isn't possible for every meeting, but whenever possible I schedule a 30 minute chunk after every meeting that I have that says follow up on, you know, previous meeting.
Rachel Myers 00:10:59:07
And that way I'm able to any action items that got assigned to me, I can at least start them or make some progress. While everything is fresh. And it also, like you were pointing out before, it creates a little window of time where I can even you there isn't. Your thing is like giving yourself time to think. Connect the dots, like have a pause.
Rachel Myers 00:11:21:27
We're like, okay, I was present in the meeting. This is kind of where we landed, but this makes me wonder about this are now I have a question about this and taking, you know, again, 30 minutes, even 15 or 20 minutes, I can jot those questions down, follow up with someone, tackle that first task. Hey, can you reach out to so-and-so to get X, Y, Z?
Rachel Myers 00:11:42:16
Answer? You can do that. And then it doesn't even have to go on your task list because you've already got a lead. Although I'll I'll be honest, I'll put it on my task list just to check it off.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:11:52:22
I was going to say, just to get that check mark right? like I put it somewhere and I did it.
Rachel Myers 00:11:58:07
Exactly as there's in my in my experience, there are a few things as satisfying as checking the box. It is finally done. And I mean, another sort of, I guess, parallel tip to that one is creating space in front of the meeting to prepare, you know, 15 minute chunk. So what I try to do before every meeting just so I can again show up and be ready to participate as as well as I can.
Rachel Myers 00:12:25:20
Again, not always possible, but it sure is nice. Yes, possible. So tell me, Sammie, you and I have talked a little bit about this, but I'm eager for you to share this with everyone who's listening about some of the tools and strategies that you've implemented that have really shifted how you do some of your calendaring and meeting setup?
Sammie Holzwarth 00:12:47:20
So a little bit of context of kind of what my day looks like in my role that I think maybe tie in to this to get started as part of my role as product manager, make making people have more time right and more efficient is I need to be out talking to clients, talking to partners like Rachel and others.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:13:05:25
So a lot of that is a lot of listening and a lot of meetings. You know, you can't do a lot of that just via email or an agenda doc like you. You really need to go listen and be able to ask questions. And so I spend a lot of my time trying to to talk to customers and talk to clients.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:13:24:05
So, you know, one prime example I always like to think about is, well, do surveys and their automated online surveys and people will go in and input comments. So for the first couple of years I was kind of helping with that process around, Oh, this person put this comment in and we really want to follow up. We want to again, we want to know more.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:13:45:16
I'm sure a lot of you have this thread, I think, about our funders who, you know, if you're asking your grantees to provide feedback or, you know, donors or community members, great, that little question box that someone types in is is a great first start, but you normally don't have all the picture from from that. So for the first couple of years it was hey Rachel, saw your comment.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:14:08:29
I would love to learn more. You know, can we set up a time to chat email here three times on my calendar that I currently have open. Let me know if these are for you. Send email, go to calendar, block those three times so no one else grabs them. Wait for Rachel to get back to me. Right now we call that Foundant calendar gymnastics.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:14:32:04
We're all bending and trying and trying to figure out who can fit where. So playing calendar gymnastics normally even on a good you know, you get you send the email client confirms, you sent confirmation three or four emails back and forth to get that done. So what I switched to a couple of years ago was using a tool called Calendly.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:14:57:01
It's just a calendaring tool that now when I do that outreach, I can say I would love to chat with you. Use the link below to find the time that's best to talk for you. My calendar is live an updated one email that now that meeting is on both of our calendars instead of the four to get it all scheduled.
Rachel Myers 00:15:19:19
That I have a few different friends who use calendly and I have thought about calendly. So since we're on calendly and we're trying to learn together, let's do a little live learning like Rachel will get vulnerable here. So here's my big concern about doing using a tool like calendly. Do you does it make you feel like does it create too many surprises on your calendar?
Rachel Myers 00:15:43:29
I think that's what. So tell me how you manage that side of it, Sammie.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:15:47:12
To me it doesn't because you can do you can set rules with calendly like you can't allow back to back meetings, so you can give you that 15 minute buffer so you can build that in, you can tell it windows that you are in aren't available. So, you know, one thing that I've thought about doing, I haven't jumped into it yet is, okay, this is my window for like client calls and, and then you have the expectation and that's what that times for in my calendar.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:16:18:29
And then the other thing is with you know task blocking on your calendar normally I, I think I've only had it once where someone grabbed like the next day, no one loves the next day meeting really. You know, people are normally the week or the next week and you're just like, oh, okay. Like, and I had that space anyways because like, that's the only place that they can grab.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:16:42:10
So to me it hasn't felt overly like, What the heck is that? And you normally sent the request as well. Like people are going to do it when they get the email, not two weeks later.
Rachel Myers 00:16:52:22
Yes. Okay. Yes. All of this is like bringing my anxiety down. I'm feeling like I can I can do this. When you and I talked about this when we first met and I sort of tucked it back like I need to explore calendly, but I knew we were going to have this conversation. So, like, Sammie will help me get over some of my fears and objections.
Rachel Myers 00:17:13:20
Now. That's great. And how did that So it saved you time on the set up, which is amazing. And I feel like it also clearly saves the other person time, right? They have to do one thing instead of, again, the back and forth email and then accepting the request.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:17:28:23
They have to read the email from me where I've put all of my times in Mountain. Do the time zone conversion too. It's the simple little things, but it's like one of those. It just takes that second longer of like, okay, So Amy said, she's available at 10 a.m. Mountain. What is that on my calendar? Okay. Yeah. Yes, I am sending email confirm.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:17:52:01
They now have to put the hold until the real email It just all of those things.
Rachel Myers 00:17:57:02
Yeah. And I think too about you know there's all this research around how context switching or what we like to call multitasking, which isn't really a thing we can do, but we like to call it that. But how much time we get sucked up by that context switching where you're it's because once you send that email out, you're kind of looking for that response.
Rachel Myers 00:18:19:04
I mean, whether you're actively opening your email or you just sort of it's on your mind. So when you hear that ding, you're like, Oh, is that so and so is that responding to my meeting requests? But if you just send them the calendly link or whatever, however you, you know, optimize that. You don't have to be pulled back into your email, which as we've talked about in other podcasts and I think we talked about this on our webinar, it is kind of a container for other people's priorities.
Rachel Myers 00:18:48:10
So once you step into email, you might have a hard time.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:18:52:19
That's where the urgent, important stuff really glares for me is email is like this urgent space or it feels like it.
Rachel Myers 00:19:01:05
It does, it feels like that. And it's sort of the you know, it's part of it is our mindset for sure. Like, oh, I should probably respond to this, but is that the most important thing to do right now? So if you can stay out of your email, the more you can stay out of your email, it feels like the better off we all are.
Rachel Myers 00:19:19:29
So any other sort of tips or strategies that you wanted to share around this topic?
Sammie Holzwarth 00:19:25:18
Yeah, the other one that I've seen be really successful is there is the time and the place for the one on one conversation, right? You, you provided direct feedback. I need to dig in with you, Rachel, understand what you said. And then there are other times that you just want to go do listening. Right? And in my product role, that's, hey, we want to build this new feature that clients have requested in foundations or philanthropy work.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:19:49:27
Great. Like you all want to go listen to your community and just have these kind of open conversations like, Hey, we're thinking about solving problem X. Tell me what that means to you. Tell me how or why. And so what I found to be successful in that is taking that, you know, calendaring piece and moving more from one on one to where I can have small group conversations.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:20:20:00
And so in in this scenario, you know, let's say we have a list of folks and I know who they are instead of sending, you know, individual like, hey, schedule time to talk with me, send a message to everyone and we have some great tools. I Foundant that I can actually, like I said all at once, I don't even have to send individual emails.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:20:40:10
But even if you're doing an individual email or an email, throw everyone in the BCC say, Hey, we would we would love your feedback on X, whatever it might be. We're going to be having open conversation and you provide the three times and you say, We'll be at this time, this time and this time join us if you can.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:21:00:23
If you can't and this is really important to you and you want a space to to feel heard, reach out to me one on one. We can still do that. But the the group conversations one, it's such a timesaver, right? You're trying to reach out to 50 people now you've got three meetings but the value that they provide as well, you know just that that group hearing and empathy and those different pieces that can come out of it are amazing.
Rachel Myers 00:21:30:04
Well, just hearing other people's questions and and and ideas helps inspire me to think about, oh, I hadn't thought about doing that or I hadn't even thought about asking that question. It reminds me back when I was at the Community Foundation for some of our grant rounds, we sort of we kind of went through a similar evolution that you're describing.
Rachel Myers 00:21:49:01
We would say, Hey, we're available to talk through ideas or share input or what have you. And then we realized, you know, what we should really do is offer offer office hours where we're just available these 2 hours on Monday, these 2 hours on Thursday and what have you, and invite people to come in with their questions or anything that, you know, input or what have you.
Rachel Myers 00:22:13:18
And it same thing. It was so much better for our staff because we knew exactly, you know, when this is going to happen. It wasn't just phone calls coming in randomly throughout the day, and it was great for the potential grantees because they got to hear other people's questions. And a lot of times, you know, similar questions are you learn from what someone else has brought up.
Rachel Myers 00:22:33:25
So I love that idea of rethinking just how to make it not only more efficient for your calendar, but really a better process.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:22:42:03
And while you're explaining that, Rachel, I just had this thought that I almost one or two when you do the like, reach out if you want to know more or schedule. All of us are so respectful of each other's time, right? That someone's like, we'll do this. Really? This is a question worth me reaching out to the that, you know, is it almost a better invitation when you say I'm already holding this time and space for you, it's important to me.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:23:07:12
And then people don't feel like they're taking your time, which we're talking about today is so important and valuable that we're giving people that the grace to say, this is important. I've already carved out the time. Please engage with me on it.
Rachel Myers 00:23:22:18
This time is for you. If you want it or need it. That's a really good point. You're kind of taking down that barrier and making it easier and just more comfy to connect. Yeah, I love that Sammie. I hadn't even thought of that benefit. So many benefits to, you know, just taking sometimes. Don't you find that when you just take that time to kind of step back a little bit, look at your processes that you've done forever?
Rachel Myers 00:23:46:16
We've all done this right. Every organization has ways that we do things. Sometimes just taking that pause and asking, okay, is there a better way to do this? That's better for for my time, but also just better results, better outcomes, You know, how can we rethink this? So one other thing that I wanted to mention that I also feel like is a habit that I've cultivated that has served me really well and that is organizing my time or sort of taking 20 or 30 minutes at the end of the day to prep for the next day.
Rachel Myers 00:24:23:12
So that's where I'll notice. Oh, okay. I do have two back to back meetings tomorrow. I'm not going to have time to prep for that second one, so I better add 15 minutes at the beginning of the day to prep for that, knowing that that meeting is coming up. Like it gives me that sort of a strategic eye on the next day so that I'm not, again, I'm, I'm avoiding calendar panic.
Rachel Myers 00:24:46:04
So I just decided to call it because I don't like calendar panic. I don't like to start my day with that feeling of like a pit in my stomach. So that would be just one more sort of it's kind of related to time management and project manager, but I really advocate for doing that. If you can, you can work on it.
Rachel Myers 00:25:07:27
So. So yes. So now, Sammie, what is like one takeaway you want to leave with the folks that are listening to this?
Sammie Holzwarth 00:25:15:12
My big one is understand your priorities, which is such a simple statement, but really it is, I think with your time management, if you understand your priorities, it will make that pause. It will make that okay. I don't need to have this eight hour meetings in a day, right. Like pause, really look at it, understand your priorities. But with that and Rachel's heard me say this in every conversation we have, we've had.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:25:42:18
But the plan is the plan until the plan changes. Because what we set out for the beginning of the week, I had a week like this was not the plan for the remainder of the week. And that's okay. It's okay that all the things I thought were getting done this week didn't but look at this other stuff that did because I pivoted to the most important priority.
Rachel Myers 00:26:05:22
Yes, I love that. Right. Yeah. Their priorities are not set in stone forever. Right. So I think that's a really, really good point. Then just because they're written down in your notebook and you want to check them off, if you're Rachel Meyers are dying to check off that next task. At the same time, you don't want to be so focused on that that you can't respond to another opportunity that is really important and impactful.
Rachel Myers 00:26:31:11
So and I'm sure everyone who's listening can identify with that 100%.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:26:38:19
But It's also the don't don't just jump, right? Like don't just jump because it came.
Rachel Myers 00:26:43:17
No, don't just jump. Take, take your pause, take, take your moments. It is this worth dumping this other task, moving this other task to another day, a week or what have you? Or is this know? This really is important. I need to bump this because it's that important to move it forward. Yes, you're absolutely right. Also, I would encourage everyone out there and I know how tricky this can be for some of us in our roles, but to try and carve out a few hours every week, that is really for that deep thinking, that strategizing time, because I'm I've had this experience.
Rachel Myers 00:27:23:19
I'm sure you have as well, Sammie. So many times when we just create that space, it gives us time to evaluate these other things and we ultimately save time and energy. We're able to really dig in to something deep and you can start off with an hour, then maybe grow it to 90 minutes, then 2 hours. But I guarantee you that time will ROI on that time will be most likely exponential because it just giving us giving ourselves space to think is just so, so valuable.
Rachel Myers 00:28:00:17
So I encourage you, I cheer you on. All of you are who are listening and reminding myself and Sammie to really try and carve that time out just for that deep work on that, unlike the really, really top priorities on that list. So that's what I'll leave folks with. I hope this was a useful conversation. I am now committed to moving forward with Calendly, so I feel like I gained something really important.
Rachel Myers 00:28:30:18
Sammie, thanks for sharing all your insights and tips on this subject.
Sammie Holzwarth 00:28:35:13
Yeah, thank you, Rachel, for letting me dive in on something. I'm actively trying to do better every day, which I think we all are.
Rachel Myers 00:28:44:13
We're all learners and some are. Some days and some weeks. I feel like I really have it sorted, and other weeks I definitely experienced calendar panic. So I think we just do our best and keep trying to refine and make it better. I hope again that this was useful and feel free to join us over on compass to all who are listening so we can hear how you are managing your calendars wisely.
Rachel Myers 00:29:10:10
And thanks again!