A colleague at Curry College, where I oversee the Public Relations Concentration in our Communication Department, made an interesting comment recently that got me to thinking about priorities and common sense.
We were talking about how the spring semester had gotten off to a somewhat frenetic start and our days were basically disintegrating as a result of endless meetings and other “stuff.”
Then, out of the clear blue, he commented, “I don’t even have time to check my mail. I check it maybe once a month.”
Now on the surface this sounds like “oh, poor you, I understand completely” material except…
His mailbox is roughly 120 (I counted!) steps from his office and he seems to have enough time to go get coffee, “confer” with other colleagues on matters of “importance,” etc., etc.
As I tell my students when talking about public relations and expectations of employers or clients, “Setting priorities is a key element in your success as a public relations professional.”
Not checking mail isn’t going to bring the world to a screeching halt. But not meeting a deadline could throw a serious monkey wrench into the cogs of your own career progression machine.
How to avoid this time-controlled spiderweb? A couple of ideas…
First, know your own capabilities and available resources. If this is a project that requires skills that maybe you’re not yet at the top of your game with, find or ask for backup support. For example, I know for a fact that I’m a lousy designer so, if I’m working on some collateral material for a client that requires a certain level of design proficiency, I recruit someone to help me who does have that ability.
Second, I’ve been on this planet long enough to know that “life” has a tendency to do what it wants to do regardless of what tasks I might have on my to-do list. If some unexpected (or expected) thing bubbles up, accept the fact that you will very likely have to devote additional time…in other words, you’re not going to go out with your friends tonight…you’re going to be at your desk completing the project.
Third, it’s not about “you.” You “volunteered” for this assignment/project. You put your personal and professional reputations on the line by implying “I can do this.” It’s a slippery slope that you’ll find yourself on when you start finding excuses for not completing projects on time.
So do some serious self-assessment and come to a solid understanding of how you operate. Be realistic in volunteering for assignments. And don’t forget to check your mail.