So May has been interesting….for two reasons: the planning for my women’s career event went ahead full steam (more details to follow) and Boris Johnson once again has succeeded in securing another Mayoral term.
At his first official staff address since becoming the Mayor of London on the 4 May, I could not help but feel a slight pang of excitement. The more he delved deeper into what the next 4 years under his mayoralty would entail, the more I began to realise that perhaps this would in fact be a ‘summer like no other’ and that I was indeed privileged to be working in such a prolific organisation at a time like this. From the Queen’s Jubilee to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the fact of the matter is that in a couple of months, London will be welcoming the world and his wife to one of the greatest sporting events that this generation will ever witness…
Then I got back to my desk and reality hit me: in the 30 minutes that it took for my patriotic barometer to soar to unprecedented heights, I had amassed a total of 28 emails and my To-Do list had not gotten any shorter since I left my desk to hear the master orator speak. (FACT: love him or hate him, Boris is the master of oratory, bringing together the right level of self depreciation, humour and seriousness all into one speech. Genius…)
And as great as it is to work in such a dynamic place, the work never EVER stops…as in like NEVER. I have found that all in the name of enhancing my ‘professional development,’ I felt this great pressure to take on things with full enthusiasm in a bid to become ‘indispensable’ as I was once advised. A number of successful women encouraged me to ‘volunteer’ for everything so that I could enhance my CV. And don’t get me wrong, no one forced me to take on the tasks that I did; I did it willingly (as my big sister would say ‘who sent you?’) to avoid being pigeonholed as a PA/Administrator/Office skivvy. I wanted to ensure that by the time my fixed term contract came to end in the forthcoming year, my CV would have more responsibilities listed on it than Angela Merkel (although, I most certainly wouldn’t want to trade places with her given the current EU crisis…err pass!)
BUT… whilst I have tried as much as possible to welcome the challenges, embrace the obstacles and make every attempt to overcome them triumphantly, I have come to the realisation that no one can ever truly ever be indispensable!! Sometimes you just have to say NO!!
In order to do things with an acceptable level of quality and with the necessary attention to detail, it is not possible to be everyone’s Gatekeeper for information/Secretariat/Project Officer/Project Manager etc etc. I have quickly become accustomed to the fact that it is important to do the following before accepting a task:
1) Push back if necessary– is it a task that is being pushed onto you because the person can’t be bothered to do it themselves? If so you need to push back.
2) Volunteer carefully – is this something that looks minuscule but in actual fact will probably mean that you have to dedicate at least a day a week in order for it to progress? If you haven’t got the capacity to take it on then just say no.
3) Accept tasks and/or responsibility for things that will enhance YOUR professional development – will taking on this task help you to expand your current skill set? If not, it may be a waste of your time.
You have to be selfish to put it quite frankly…it is all about YOU. I pledge from now on, to only take on tasks that will be of benefit to MY career and MY career only. I pledge to put MY feelings first and even if it doesn’t sound exciting, I will not try to hide my disappointment in order to please others. No siree, from now on I will say no and say it happily too. Girl scouts honour, signed Ola. I feel emancipated; I feel liberated…this is the new and improved me.
And with less than 64 days to go until the London 2012 Games, I am sure I will be forced to eat my words over the coming weeks in the run up to the games due to the increased workload. But until then, I will be saying no a lot more freely…I will exhaust the word unashamedly.
Remember it is better to do one thing well, than to do lots of things really quickly, so if like me, you have some trouble saying no, it’s time you adopt a new strategy, it’s time to simply learn how to just say no….