Saturday, February 7, 2009

Ending the Firefight

My work is entirely grant based. Currently the things funding me and my day to day are: a federal block grant via a state nonprofit, state funding, a local tax initiative, and a state foundation. In a way this means I have 5 bosses and 4 work plans. And for the most part that's fine. That's how thing happen in my industry and I knew that walking in.

The problem is that for most of my 5 month tenure I've been fire fighting. Instead of doing work at a planned & steady pace I'm jumping through hoops to meet/anticipate 1 deadline or crazy request after another. A big part of this is that during the first 3 months of the grant years my position was empty. I knew there would be a bit of a learning curve but it has been steep. I'm playing catch up in all areas, doing the things that have to be done by a certain time and other things fall by the wayside.

In the 2-5 day down periods I have between the craziness (if I'm so lucky)I've been doing a bit of work dreaming. Not the I wish I made $100K a year kind, but what I want my accomplishments to look like and how I can get there. Step one, after I put out the current fire(s), is to create a year long plan. This will outline what I have to do month to month, when grant reapplication deadlines are (my director & I missed one a few weeks ago because we just didn't know), events where I want to participate, when reports are due, and time lines for some of our bigger programs.

This is where I got to before leaving for a meeting Friday morning...

In addition to the outline I am trying to set up a few shadow visits. There are 15 other agencies funded by one of my grants. Some of my colleagues at other agencies have been in the field longer than I have been alive. I know there are advantages that my relative youth brings to the job, but I'm also a big believer in learning from those with experience.

All of this ties back to one of my goals for the year- finding a work life balance. I was doing pretty well the first two weeks, despite 2 big deadlines. Deadlines 3-6, the work training I'm attending on Saturdays,* and my directors impending maternity leave have left be very unbalanced. My one quasi solace is that I'm not the only one feeling this way. I was meeting with our other program manager the other day and one of the first things she said to me was "I feel like all I do anymore is put out fires." In two weeks I hope to get this all under control and get started on my strategies.

*theoretically I'm taking 1 comp day a week to make up- to bad I'm needing 45 hours to get the regular work done. I'm keeping good notes and will eventually take the time

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