The first three months are crucial in a new job. You are under intense scrutiny to perform, especially if you have a boss who doesn’t understand development. Square your shoulders, take a deep breath and learn to manage expectations.
First of all, get confident. Remember your skills stories. You are talented! You are a fast learner! You can do this! You can learn as quickly as you can by tapping in to organizational memory and finding development mentors. Get an early win. Under-promise and over-deliver. Talk with your boss about each aspect of your job, priorities and the resources you need. Get together a team of volunteers, interns and, if possible, other development professionals.
Then, get organized. You got the job — now there’s work to do! A lot of times there is so much to do, it’s hard to know where to begin. The book “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” by David Allen is a good resource to start clearing the mental and physical clutter.
Tired of coming to the end of the day and feeling like you didn’t accomplish anything? Here’s how to ensure you manage your day as it progresses. Write the answers to these questions each morning before you begin work.
What will I concentrate on today?
What must I do today?
How can I make this easier for myself?
What needs to come first?
What events might prevent me from doing this?
How can I best anticipate these?
You can also make a diagram, like the one shown to the right. What is urgent and important? What is important but not urgent? Unimportant and urgent? Not urgent and not important? Separate out your tasks.
Write down all of the things you have to do. Everything. Even nonwork-related things. Just get it all out on paper.
Separate personal and work-related to-dos into two lists.
Separate specific actions and projects (requiring three or more specific actions).
Using the principle of the assembly line, divide your work so it can all be accomplished with the least amount of distraction and highest efficiency.
Break up your day into five mini-days. For example:
8 a.m. to 10 a.m.: Write marketing copy for appeal letters, website or other PR tools.
10 a.m. to noon: Make phone calls to donors.
Noon to 2 p.m.: Lunch and meet with colleagues/mentors.
2 p.m. to 4 p.m.: Research grants.
4 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Answer e-mails.
What do you need?
Figure out what you need to be successful. This is the beginning of your development plan. Do you need a second person to help you? Do you need an events consultant? Do you need an approved marketing budget? Do you need more priorities set from your boss? Do you need a higher ratio of compliments to criticisms? Do you need your boss to meet with you weekly? Monthly? What’s your communication style? Do you prefer e-mail? Telephone? In-person?