Last week I had the opportunity to shadow our college president for a day as part of a professional development program on campus. I’ve been starting a few blog posts since then in hope of using that experience to talk about some things, but I’m still struggling with the right issues to highlight. Hopefully it will come to me!
Well, after recovering from the realization that I felt like a complete loser following him around all day…we got down to business. Here are some take away messages that I took from a most interesting time!
- Even the college president only has 24 hours in a day available.
Campus activities staff… we like to lament our workload because, let’s face it, it’s pretty ridiculous. I’m equally guilty of this and learned a lot from understanding how the president tackles his workload. Granted, our level of responsibility in campus activities is much more narrow in scope and much less serious in consequence. However, he does use some techniques I am going to try to utilize. First, he meets every morning for 15 minutes with his administrative assistant. Second, he has a 15 minute follow up with his executive assistant at the end of the day.
2. Journaling and notes go a long way
He writes for about fifteen minutes at the end of the day to record observations, information he learns about people, etc. and has a good contact file with these notes. This file is accessible to him and his administrative assistant for future meeting preparation. This way, when he is likely to reconnect with the same person he can be reminded of details.
3. Give some thought to meetings and what you can contribute
He shared a focus on looking at how he spends his time in meetings and whether he’s there for symbolic reasons (because the president should be there to make it important) or whether he’s the best person to personally contribute to the conversation.
4. Be “in the moment” when you are spending time with people.
It was amazing to watch how much respect for his time was offered to him because of his position of leadership. Yet, I meet so many people who are very willing to sap my time into oblivion. I’m going to find ways to focus on making the most of small amounts of time by being more “in the moment” when conversations are happening. I think when we schedule 1 hour meetings for something that may take 15 minutes, there is a tendency to waste some time.
There are a lot of struggles we face in campus activities to balance it all. Managing the balance of administrative and student advising roles, trying to be a contributing “college citizen” and supporting other campus events, demands of supervision, managing crisis of the day.. it’s all a big puzzle. But, I figure if the president can do it, then I can too. I’ll post more about my “principal for a day” experience, but I’m interested first in time management strategies.
During this busy time of the academic year, what do you think we all can learn from those who manage executive positions? We all don’t have battalions of staff at our beck and call, but there are ways to translate the executive lifestyle into snippets that can be useful in our world.
Any tips to share?