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Susan Kistler on Local Affiliates and Managing Professional Obligations

My name is Susan Kistler and I contribute each Saturday’s post to the aea365 blog. This past week, I had the pleasure of attending the annual conference of the Eastern Evaluation Research Society (EERS), an AEA Local Affiliate. At the opening session, George Grob lead a discussion that ultimately focused heavily on tactics evaluators are using for managing their multiple professional obligations, from handling email to making the most of meetings.

Hot Tips: The group offered a number of time and information management tips and I want to thank all who shared their great ideas. Among the offerings:

  • Don’t answer your email until 10:30 AM, instead start your day by diving into a project that you prepared the night before.
  • If you commute, take advantage of the time en-route to think purposefully through a project or plan for the coming day.
  • Remote corners of parking garages can be great places to get work done if you make your car into a mobile office, equipped with the tools and materials you need to succeed.
  • Make appointments with yourself, block out the time in your calendar, and use that time to focus on project work.
  • For those who work from home, create a space in your home where you are conditioned to think certain ways. For instance, set up your office so that when you enter it, you immediately orient towards work because it is filled with the tools of your trade.
  • Wait until someone you respect adopts and recommends new innovations rather than pursuing each new opportunity.

Hot Tip: Get involved in an AEA local affiliate in your area. The wealth of knowledge shared at the EERS sessions and the collegiality made it an event to remember. I learned new skills, built my professional network, and came away with ideas for collaboration. The list of AEA Local Affiliates may be found here http://www.eval.org/aboutus/organization/affiliates.asp and the AEA Online Events Directory lists affiliate events (as well as many others focusing on evaluation and evaluation methodologies).

1 thought on “Susan Kistler on Local Affiliates and Managing Professional Obligations”

  1. Susan,

    Great tips, indeed. A couple of comments:

    #From talking to some of the most productive people I know, I find that the general consensus is to “go dark” for periods throughout the day when you really have to get work done, and to check/respond to email in bunches. It makes sense, as the way we typically deal with external stimuli is to momentarily stop what we’re doing and address it. I’ll admit–I’m guilty of not doing this as often as I maybe should.

    #I wanted to echo your tip regarding the home office. As petty as it may sound, there is actually a lot of research to back this notion of cognitive associations. It’s the same reason not having a TV in the bedroom is recommended for a good night’s sleep. If you associate your home office with being in a work frame-of-mind, you’ll do so much better.

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