Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Filling My Plate

I was at a forum Monday morning where the speaker was talking about being invited to collaborate with a group that wanted his skills and input. He felt his plate was full and he couldn't engage in anything else. He was told to put the plate down and get a platter.

Sometimes I feel as if my plate is full. I'm engaged in a lot of different projects, but I know that if I did the same thing every day, I'd be bored silly and start looking for other things to do. But sometimes I do have to say "no" to more projects and just can't get a bigger platter than I already have. What to do then?

Almost always, I can find someone else I can refer the "asker" to so they can move forward. And I know that I can always go back when my plate is less full and re-engage with the person or project myself. Sometimes I'll join a meeting to get and give some perspective and advice without committing myself to a long-term venture.

Another tactic is to learn how to do more through efficiency. I coordinate a free tax preparation program for low-income residents. We use a "message only" phone line for people to call and schedule appointments. Best part of that? It's online! I never hear a phone ring, but get email messages with every phone call. The .wav file is great because I can email to the volunteer doing Intakes/Appointments and keep a copy for quality control.

This year, we had several people doing calls, so we added a spreadsheet to Google Docs with all the calls listed and shared it with several volunteers. This avoided duplicate calls being made and I didn't have to keep printing out sheets and then adding notes to a master document.

Filling My Plate is something I am always doing. But I try to bring others along with me, get them engaged, and spread the load among the many by helping them all be efficient and resourceful.

How's your plate?

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