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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.

Social bookmarking has caught my attention again. I’ve had one account or another for years and years, but in the last year or so I’ve really latched onto it.

In part, I think it has at least a little to do with my iPhone. Before this, I’ve (generally speaking) had two computers in use at any one time. One for work and one at home. And the work bookmarks went on the work laptop, and the personal bookmarks went on my home computer.

When I started emailing myself links to my work email address from my home computer rather than hauling out my work laptop, though: that’s when I knew I was in trouble.

And then the iPhone came along. And believe it or not, it’s my main mobile device. When I stopped in on the Learning Design Summer Camp, all I brought was my iPhone. No laptop. And I did fine interacting with the Live Question Tool, and backchanneling via Twitter, and all that.

But to really get the most out of whenever I was websurfing on my iPhone, I needed to be able to access my bookmarks. And putting them “in the cloud” on a social network (so to speak) has done that.

Someone a few weeks ago told me that you can tell a lot about someone by looking at what they bookmark. I’d give that more credence than judging by their shoes–though I don’t know a lot about shoes past what’s comfortable and looks decent.

My top tags in delicious (name change from the original del.icio.us, so named because a friend of the founder compared finding good links to eating cherries) on my professional account are as follows: socialmedia, reachingstudents, marketing, web2.0, admissions, socialnetworking, usability, content, culture, webdesign.

That’s telling. Though I rather dislike that marketing shows up there: I’ve always resisted that label.

I’m the one usually telling my boss or my equal on the print side (who’s a marketer) that we shouldn’t do that¬† when he suggests a scheme that smells suspiciously of spamming. We didn’t even have an unsubscribe on the marketing email going out of our office until I got there, and our security policies were (emphasis there on the past tense) not very strong on a few points.

Is it that I’m more ethical than my marketing colleague? Possible. I do know that I’m closer to the age of the students we’re trying to talk with, and way more tech-savvy than he is. And social media-minded, for that matter.

It’s more that I, like many of a similar age and younger, have been totally suspicious of marketing for as long as I’ve been aware of it. “All Marketers are Liars” is more than a book title to me.

In this vein, social bookmarking has become really valuable to me. I’ll more often trust–or at least follow–a link passed to me by a friend or colleague than one being advertised.

So in short, those are the two big draws for me. Social bookmarking is:

  • in the cloud
  • with my community

It allows me to contribute and consume from people I know and trust from anywhere. Which is also the main perk of Twitter, I might add. And I’m sure it could also be extended to many other social networking applications. Care to contribute some more to the list?

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