Jack of All Trades and Master of None?

Tue, June 19, 2012 10:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

By Deanna Tharpe, DSAIA Executive Director (and “Wearer of Many Hats”)

So, you knew when you took a job at a small nonprofit Down syndrome organization that your job would entail a myriad of “hats.” When you are the only staff member or one of very few in an organization, it’s really a given, isn’t it? I read an interesting article yesterday asking the question “if you are doing so much, how do you do anything well?” and it really hit home. Even for board members, committee chairs, or general volunteers…this is a great question and one that I’m sure enters your mind at least once a week.

I had a little practice being a “jack of all trades” during my many years in broadcasting. I spent a lot of my time working in two or three different areas (on-air, production, promotions, sales, management, etc.) but I never really got a REAL taste of wearing multiple hats until I left the private sector to take a job with a DS organization. The only staff member, I found myself trying to multi-task and still excel at everything I put my hands on. (FYI – this can make for some sleepless nights.) Now, studies show that multi-tasking leads to doing NOTHING well and some of us have learned the hard way.

How to overcome this conundrum? Planning. Just because you need to do 5 different jobs in any given week (programs, marketing, fundraising, etc.) doesn’t mean that you can’t plan ahead to try to do the best job you can. And for those balancing your job (or volunteer job) against family life, it’s important that you spend a little time on your “plan of attack” so that you are more successful (and able to sleep) at the end of the day. Don’t worry – it’s not that hard to make your plan.  It’s just hard to stick to!

There are two ways you can do this: divide up your day into different “jobs” or divide up your week into different “jobs”.  For example, Monday is your day to plan your social media posts or work on marketing materials for your upcoming events or programs while Tuesday is your day to spend on fundraising like sponsorship materials or grant funding requests. If you have all day to devote to the organization or are one that needs some break-up in your day, divide your day up into smaller “hats” so that you have some options.  Of course, you will always have to devote some time to checking email or putting out fires, but a more structured plan that allows you some time for emergencies will result in a less-stressed, less-harried you in the long run.

If you are interested in some time-saving organizational tips, check out our Divide & Conquer webinar in the DSAIA Webinar Archive. Be the Jack-of-All-Trades that your organization needs you to be and stop worrying about being Master-of-None! With a little advance planning, you can still be productive and successful in your strength areas without sacrificing the other two dozen that must be done.

I want to tell you what WONDERFUL time I had at the conference. I learned so much and came away with lots of ideas for our organization. -Barb Waddle, The Upside of Downs of Northeast Ohio


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