December 15, 2014

Lessons From a Busy Fall

This has been an unusually busy fall for me. For several weeks, I was working on two issues of Trinity News, the magazine I edit for Trinity Wall Street, at the same time. During these weeks I learned several lessons in patience and project management, and now that I can reflect back on the experience, I thought I’d share a few of these lessons:

  • Set realistic deadlines. It’s easy to think about a single project and set deadlines that seem plausible in a vacuum. The trick is remembering that your project is almost always one of many. When setting deadlines, be honest with yourself about how much time each task will take and consider it in the context of all the other professional and personal demands on your time.
  • Recruit help early. As soon as you know you might need help, ask. This gives people time to arrange their schedules or for you to enlist other people to help if your volunteers or other staff members can’t help.
  • Do the small things sooner rather than later. It’s easy to leave the small, seemingly easy things to the end. I’ve been reminded recently it’s better to do those first, rather than let them accumulate to the crunch week, when everything is coming together. An small and simple task, left to the last minute, can turn into a headache.
  • Always give credit to other people. A project is rarely the effort of only one person. It’s a good habit to give credit to others whenever possible. Acknowledge the person who wrote the article, took the photos, brought the snacks, made the phone calls, everything and anything.
  • Debrief with others after your project is completed. Look back on the project and speak to others about the process and how things went. What worked? What didn’t work? Was anything unnecessarily difficult or complicated? There’s always room for improvement, and this can also give others a chance to both express gratitude and frustration in a healthy way.

These are just a few of the things I’ve picked up this fall. I’m always learning how to do my job better. I’d love to hear what lessons our ECF Vital Practices readers have learned this year, please share them in the comments below.

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