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Let me just say that after the past few days I’ve had, I’m thanking every little star in my sky that I have a supervisor who isn’t afraid to help me prioritize.
These days, I’ve got a ton of conflicting priorities and people on all sides are demanding my time and attention. Some are sending multiple emails (though understandably, since I’m about to declare email bankruptcy), as well as copying in my old supervisor, weirdly enough. But when I’m entirely overloaded, it’s an immense relief to be able to say “no” and refer them to someone farther up the chain than I am. Especially when that someone else can easily say that I’ve got more important tasks than theirs.
Being able to work down my list with someone who can make the call and take the heat that might follow is exactly what I need when I’m overwhelmed. I’d say it about halves my stress level, though that might be an exaggeration.
At the very least, it takes me out of the “I’ll never get this all done” mindset. Instead, it provides a path to how it might all get done.
I once had a supervisor who refused to prioritize my duties, tasks and projects. Even when I asked, the supervisor in question refused. And nothing drove me battier.
And I was less productive for it. I ended up switching between things, trying to do them all semi-evenly until one of them or another became an emergency. And that was no help at all. My stress level was immense.
Having learned from that, I try to make priorities quite clear to the folks who report to me. I realize not everyone works in the same fashion, nor does prioritization lower everyone else’s stress level the way it does mine, but it’s been my best tool to make things clear.
And it works on my end, at least. I get things when I need them, and no one in my charge complains they don’t know what to work on next. I just hope it helps them with their stress level as well.
My day in brief:
- Meetings 8:00 to 12:30, some of which were interrupted by three different people looking for me, all leaving tasks for me behind them.
- Brief hour at my desk for email/IM and lunch.
- Interview for a programmer position open from 1:30 to 2:30,
- half-hour of post-interview review, then
- a good hour of fire-putting-out on our online application for admission–with no resolution.
- Back to email/tasks left behind.
No way I can answer all the email I got today, nor catch up on what I got previously and haven’t gotten to/resolved yet.
While today was mostly an exception, this sort of thing happens all the time, to one extent or another. And it’s frustrating.
And I know it’s not just me. Other people have similar workloads.
At some point, I’m going to have to call an embargo on meetings, or declare email bankruptcy, or not be on IM, or close and lock my door. Or all of the above. Something. Because otherwise, I can’t actually put into action the things I’m in those meetings for.
We’re down two content people in my office now, so that could be aggravating the problem. But man. Rough Friday.
The web obviously needs some man-hours, and not just in my office. If there are any web folks out there at Penn State twiddling their thumbs (not that I think there are), drop me a line. I sure could use the help.