Friday: Made it through another week. And finally was able to take a breath and think about some strategic ideas to tackle next week. Once again, my email provided some virtual support and inspiration. “A sign that you’re in a great job is that there is too much exciting stuff you want to get to and not enough time to get to it all. I used to think of that as a problem, not as a positive. I’ve since learned to prioritize and to feel productive doing the things I set out to do and not trying to do it all.” Here are my two biggest take-aways from the week:
First of all, give people some space they need to work effectively. Ironically, we’re working remotely, social-distancing, all the things we’re supposed to be doing but at the same time, good work takes time (whether digital or any task really). Sometimes, we can feel like we have a car full of people on a road trip asking “are we there yet” which I think is a function of not being physically present on our campuses. Now more than ever, it’s key to give clear status updates, share any changes to timelines, and what adding new elements will do to launch.
My second take-away is to somehow find ways to do something fun. Last week was all about communicating facts and resources everyone needed. I’ve been able to shift a bit this week to give our community some space to connect and engage with each other. It did my soul good (and has been so well received by our fans and followers!).
Thursday: Another challenging one today because it just seemed like everything was coming at me at once. Here’s a couple random notes to myself (and perhaps you too) to end the day. Remember when your inbox is filling and your phone is exploding, every idea simply can’t be pursued right now (or honestly ever). Trust yourself to sift through everything and think about what needs to be the priority. OK, that just might be the theme of the week.
One positive to come out of the last couple weeks is that everyone is beginning to understand how much user experience matters. It’s no longer some fuzzy term – it’s how to get people the information they need quickly, accurately, and efficiently.
Last but not least, this came into my inbox today and was so timely: “You have what it takes! Self-doubt and impostor syndrome are normal and universal, and sometimes all you need is a reminder (from yourself or from others) that you made it where you are for a reason and that you can do it.”
Wednesday: Question: are you finding as everyone is working remotely that the number of requests coming in off-hours for routine things is on the rise? How do you handle these to strike a work/life balance in such a crazy time? That’s something I started struggling with last night, while being mindful that perhaps these people are flipping their schedules because of having young students at home that they are supporting as well.
Today was filled with more requests and meetings than usual. Fortunately, it was a nice day, so I was able to take a quick break to walk around the block, clear my head, and prioritize and try to stay on task. Keep doing good things for your campuses – remember no one knows what the right answer is. Just keep trying to keep everyone focused and not go in too many directions that you can’t support or execute.
Tuesday: I have a couple colleagues on campus who begin each day with a quick Google Chat good morning message, wishing me a good day. Last week was so chaotic, I am ashamed to say I didn’t quite realize it, but now that I do, I’m paying it forward to reach out to a couple colleagues myself. We’re having a lot of conversations about maintaining connectedness while we’re apart. This is one easy way to move this forward.
As we announced to our Seniors that we were postponing Commencement, I was so proud of the messaging and how it was received by our students and their families. It’s such a stressful time for everyone, to hear students comment how they knew we were thinking for them and caring for them was comforting. So if nothing else, the chaos we find ourselves in is a reminder to always care about our fans and followers.
I’m still not feeling like I’ve gotten in a good strategic groove yet, but at least I’m trying to set at least one of two key strategic items that I can accomplish each day to keep moving forward.
Monday: As I start my second week in the home office, I’m hoping everyone is as happy as can be, healthy and hunkered down at home for as long as it takes to flatten the curve. I began the week by setting clear priorities for the day, but by 11:00 am, it was one of those everything flies off the rails afternoons. So a couple reminders – now more than ever, we have to be confident in our skills to determine if it’s really an emergency or if it’s something that can wait. Just communicate clearly and empathetically if you can’t do something at a particular time and indicate when you’ll be able to help. Also, you don’t need to accept every new idea or suggestion as something you have to act on. Again, trust your judgement and know what’s best for those you serve. Lastly, social listening is key. Know what your fans are talking about and walk that line between understanding if they are just looking for community or if they want you to jump in and help out.
Remember friends, these are crazy times but we’re all in this together. Love your family, support your friends, be kind to everyone you encounter and share your coping strategies.