Prioritizing Tasks and Managing Deadlines
By Scott Sweatman, CGMS
Grants Accountant, NEW Solutions

Sometimes it feels impossible to fit everything in that you want/need to get done in life.  I feel that way almost every day.  I am married with three young, energetic boys and I work from home as a grant accountant and have since 2018.  I also have a side job that I work on a few evenings a week.  Life is busy and hectic almost always; there is constant competition for my attention. Prioritizing has certainly become an essential way of life for me.
I work for a very fast-paced non-profit organization that is growing like crazy.  We are continuously adding more agreements with more agencies and are all pitching in as we look to expand our workforce to meet this growth. This can certainly feel stretching at times, but I have learned a few things that have helped me tremendously in my work and personal life.
Take Time to Plan
Taking time for planning is the first essential to managing all that work and life throws at you.  When you are “drinking from a fire hose,” planning does not seem as important as just doing the next thing to keep afloat. From my personal experience, however, this just leads to spinning your wheels later and missing the big picture. Take the time to write down all that is happening and get all your deadlines on paper.  Not only does seeing everything in one place help you prioritize what is more urgent, but you can build a roadmap on how to accomplish it all from the list. This truly saves a tremendous amount of time later if you take the time to do it now. 
Take Small Breaks
Once you have a gameplan and start attacking it, the first bump in the road can start to feel like your whole plan is being thrown off. Even though you feel like you just need to keep going, small breaks are essential at this point. I have been frustrated countless times at work but have come to see the value of just stepping away from my computer for 5-10 minutes. It is amazing how that little break can refresh your mind and help you see things you weren’t seeing before with the task at hand. 
Ask Others for Advice
Of course, small breaks are not always enough. I certainly still tend to spin in place trying to figure things out. This brings me to my final tip -- do not be afraid to ask for advice. I personally have trouble doing this. I take pride in my work and being able to figure things out, but this can lead to a lot of frustration. I work for an organization full of people willing to help out, who work really great as a team. Tapping into that has been huge this year. I have also found that as I ask for advice, others seek the same from me and we all learn together. 
There are other great resources that have helped me, such as the NGMA forums, in which many grant professionals post questions and receive feedback daily. If you haven’t already, sign up for these!
I hope you find this helpful and take my advice to heart. I have personally found that when I take the time to plan, step away for small breaks and reach out to others for advice, everything seems less overwhelming and more doable.
Scott Sweatman is a Grants Accountant at NEW Solutions, a nonprofit organization based in Arlington, VA. He has more than 15 years of experience in nonprofit accounting and operations management. Scott currently serves on NGMA’s Membership Committee.