Student affairs staff members are busy. The situations we deal with often don’t fit into neat time blocks that we can control, and there’s a lot of paperwork to keep track of and details to manage. Here are some quick tips that can help keep your schedule and well-being on track.
What is really important and essential to your role? Taking a step back every once in a while to look at what you’ve accomplished and how you’ve spent your time can give you clarity on whether your daily schedule and responsibilities reflect your overall goals or if you need to reassess how your time is spent.
Find a Simple Organization System that Is Easy to Maintain
What works for me is to only put schedule appointments, meetings, and time sensitive or recurring notes (signing timesheets etc) on my calendar. Otherwise, I prefer one to-do list in a notebook. I cross off and add to it throughout the day and then write a fresh list before I leave the office so I have clear priorities for the next day. If I think of work items during the weekend I simply email myself a reminder to my work account so I can add it to my list on Monday and not have to think about it during my time away from the office. For my to-do list, I’ve found that starting each item with an action “email Mike with room reservation requests” makes me more prone to start than if I write “reservation requests.” I also have a separate “pending” section where I keep track of items to mention in upcoming staff meetings or one-on-ones, long-term projects, or requests I’m waiting to hear back from others on. I try to reduce the number of email folders I have so I can search for emails quickly, and I keep my long-term paper filing minimalistic with the folders for projects I reference frequently in one section in the front so that I can grab it easily when needed or if I’m going to work remotely.
Know How Your Colleagues Work
Waiting to hear back from others before moving forward on projects can be frustrating and time consuming. Figuring out how and when colleagues and supervisors want to get information from you and how and when you can best get information from them is key to being able to do your job well while also being a good team member. Also, when working on a project or dealing with a situation that involves other people, consider the best method for communication. Sometimes an email that would take 15 minutes to write can be handled in a 3 minute phone call, while other times it’s best to take the time to write an email and give the other person time to process before responding. Have a way to track work or responses you are waiting to hear back on – for me this is the “pending” section at the bottom of my to-do list and a “pending” email folder. I’ll often bcc myself on emails I send that are regarding something time-sensitive so I can put the copy in my pending folder. I look through the folder once a week to determine what’s been taken care of and what might need follow-up.
These are just a few things that have helped me, please leave a comment if you have other suggestions or ideas!
This post is part of our #SACareer series, addressing careers in student affairs, careers outside of student affairs, and the work of career services professionals. Read more about the series in Jake Nelko’s intro post. Each post is a contribution by a member or friend of the Commission for Career Services from ACPA. Our organization exists to benefit the careers of career services professionals, student affairs professionals, and anyone supporting students in the career endeavors. For more information about how to get involved with the Commission for Career Services or the #SACareer blog series, contact Jake Nelko at firstname.lastname@example.org.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Kevin Kruger on Avoiding Burnout in Student Affairs