Thursday, April 29, 2010

Survivor's guide for the short-staffed

It's a good thing that my institution's mascot is the Hatter, as I'm wearing many, many hats this week. The boss is out on a family emergency, our Web editor is on a much-deserved vacation, and our office manager is out with a sick child. All this, and we have one of our biggest annual events this weekend, plus a board meeting, plus graduation in two weeks, plus the thousand other tasks that make up our regular job descriptions.

Here's how I'm keeping sane*:
  • Prioritizing early and often. On days like this, a to-do list with true deadlines is essential.
  • Cut off the distractions. No Twitter. No e-mail notification sounds. Check e-mail a few times daily so that the limited hours you have are more productive.
  • Delegate what you can. Spread the urgent priorities among the remaining staff, and request help from other departments if necessary.
  • Postpone the less important tasks. When you're short-staffed for reasons beyond your control, the relationships you've built with other department heads and campus colleagues will pay off by way of understanding.
  • Make sure the missing staff turned on the out-of-office messages. There's no bending on this rule in my office. Regardless of the reason for being out, this is the one thing that will guarantee a call on personal time.
  • Call in your clone, if you have one. Unfortunately, my Web developer is way behind deadline on building our cloning machine. If those of you at research institutions have access to one, let me know!
* For the moment.


  1. Great tips for the stressed out. Those research universities really do need to hurry up on that cloning machine. I hope things come together for you.

  2. Good luck Davina! It's time's like this I usually tell prospective clients, they need a good marketing partner (agency) to lean on. Great point on turning off the email/text/Twt announcements. They get me every time.
    Oh and add BBerry to that list too!

  3. Great tips - I want that cloning machine produced ASAP!