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Stop Procrastinating: Eat Cactus for Breakfast (and Other Tips for Major Gifts Officers)

If the first thing you did every morning was to eat something unpleasant, like say, cactus, it would be a good bet that everything else you did that day would be easier. Agreed?

Now the cactus, of course, isn’t really cactus. It’s meant to symbolize your biggest, most important task of the day—you know, the one you keep putting off.

Usually, it is also the one “thing” that can have the greatest impact on your work.

I’ve come up with 2 rules when it comes to eating cactus—I mean doing important tasks:

  1. Do the more unpleasant or hardest one first.

  2. Get it done sooner rather than later.

Let’s put this into context. Say, for example you’ve been trying to invite your donor, let’s call her Kathryn, to have lunch with you so you can ask her to support your organization’s new project. You’ve emailed her twice but haven’t received a reply. You know it’s time to pick up the phone and call her, but because you really don’t like calling—especially when it comes to setting up solicitation meetings, you procrastinate.

Days turn into weeks, maybe even months. Every time you think about that call to Kathryn that you should have made by now you get more and more nervous. Youi keep thinking about the call and thinking of reasons not to make it. She might say no or she might start asking a bunch of questions you can’t answer.

My advice? Stop with the wheel spinning. Pick up the phone and call her. It’s ok if she says no. At least then you can start thinking about other donors who may enthusiastically want to support your new project. The point is, though, you’ve got to make that call to Kathryn before you can take the next step needed to raise money.

What tricks do you use to get unpleasant tasks, like eating cactus first thing in the morning, done?

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