Planning a conference session

Chances are if we’ve spoken in the last few months for any length of time, I’ve probably mentioned the book Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman. A former colleague of mine responded to a question I asked on LinkedIn months ago and recommended it. I’m so grateful she did. The book informed and reinforced so much of what I’ve been thinking about over the last year. It even inspired me to submit a proposal to the 2022 Montana Nonprofit Association’s annual conference. I’m thrilled and humbled to share that they accepted it. I’m presenting in two weeks! Do you know what one of the best parts about this has been? Seeing how Cascadin can help with planning a conference session, the anti-hustle way. 

The conference session in a nutshell

The core idea of Four Thousand Weeks is that we have a finite time in this life, and we must decide what we do and don’t do with that finite time. As I read the book, I thought about how this idea can be applied to a group or a team. And then it struck me. 

For small teams and nonprofits, in particular, doing all the things, all the time, leads to burnout, higher staff turnover, and even mission creep. 

With this in mind, my session is all about how the book’s lessons can be applied to nonprofits seeking to reduce staff burnout while effectively supporting and growing their mission. Here’s the session overview:

Burnout in the nonprofit sector is widespread. You give your heart and soul to your organization’s mission. That commitment is admirable, and it can also be toxic. How can you change your relationship with time while building a more intentional approach to productivity? To begin, we will explore key takeaways from Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman. We will also dive deeper into toxic productivity, explore and acknowledge our limitations as human beings, and learn new tools for creating a more meaningful mindset around productivity to support and grow your mission. This conversation will provide a foundation of simple tactics for you and your team to reduce the chances of burnout.

Make It Count: Time, toxic productivity, and creating a more intentional mindset around your nonprofit mission

My goal for this session is to help people start thinking about productivity differently, especially around time. Acknowledging that you won’t get it all done, but that you can get the few things that matter most done well, makes for a more successful and meaningful nonprofit mission. I’ll also share easy tactics for participants to help their team find focus with the key work their mission needs. 

I’m thrilled to do this session, and even though I’m a little nervous, I know I’ll do my best. And that is, in part, thanks to the planning I’m doing right now. 

Why Cascadin is amazing for planning a conference session

I like to think that I’m organized and on top of things. That I plan out my time well and never procrastinate. But I’m human and when my calendar is full like it has been for the past month, I don’t always get to the things I plan on doing.

Fortunately for me, I have Cascadin. It’s coming in very handy for planning a conference session. 

When I learned my proposal was accepted, I made a project in Cascadin to help me organize and track my progress. Even if I’m not working on it every day, it’s at the top of my mind each time I open Cascadin because it’s my Project Watch on my dashboard

Screenshot of a project watch in Cascadin, used for planning a conference session

When I finish elements of this session, such as an executive summary of Four Thousand Weeks, I give Jake, my partner, assignments to review my work. 

Screenshot of a task assignment in Cascadin for planning a conference session

As I research and draft the session, I link to essential references and other tools I might want to use. I don’t have to remember where they are. It’s all connected to my project. 

Screenshot of a list of links in Cascadin for planning a conference session

All this to say, organizing and documenting my progress in Cascadin helps tremendously when planning a conference session. I know I have everything in one place, so even if I step away for a long weekend (thank you, unions), I know it will be there when I get back. 

Between now and the start of the conference in two weeks there’s a lot to do. But I’m organized and moving forward and that feels good. 🎉

Join me at the conference

If you’re part of a nonprofit, join me at the conference! I’m presenting virtually on Wednesday, September 21 starting at 8:30 am. I’ll also be at the in-person conference in Helena and if you will be too, let’s connect. I’d love to see you. 

Alyson Roberts

Alyson Roberts

Co-Founder & CEO

Known for organizing the dirty dishes before cleaning them, Alyson is learning how to do less, better and helping others do the same. She loves exploring beautiful lands near and far, trying new recipes, aspiring to be the next Star Baker, growing her garden, and avoiding board games at all cost.

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