For better or worse, I tend to compartmentalize my various jobs and responsibilities – freelance work, day job, community band, tutoring, etc, etc. E-mails get labeled and separated in Gmail, and I set aside time to accomplish certain tasks, and there is a network of ready, willing, and able people to help me with each (for which I’m extremely thankful).
Am I a little Type A? Definitely (maybe even more than a little). But, this compartmentalization mentality is great for efficiency, which frankly I need sometimes to get through everything. But, as I discovered recently, sometimes a little cross-pollination can be extremely useful.
Case in point: One of my assignments for Higheredjobs right now is an article about how to earn tenure intended for junior faculty and tenure-track job seekers. One angle they wanted me to pursue was talking to department heads about what they look for in a candidate when considering him/her for tenure. The company is based in State College, so I usually try to keep Penn State sources to a minimum. That lead to one slight problem – how was I going to get a hold of random department heads at other schools who didn’t know me from anyone else and would probably be too busy to speak with me?
I tried cold e-mailing and calling a few, but to no avail. With my deadline drawing closer, I had a breakthrough moment Wednesday morning. Over the past few years, I’ve become acquainted with other marketing/PR professionals at colleges around the country through conferences, social networking, etc. The lightbulb came on when I realized that I could talk to these people for more than just sharing advice about marketing in higher education, and that they could be my link to finding interview subjects who might actually talk to me. I sent a few e-mails and, within hours, I had already made more way more progress than I had in days of working along. (By the way, thanks to Andy, Lauren, Shawn, and Rachel, who helped make that possible in such a short amount of time.)
I know this might seem like a really small thing, but that simple change in mindset and realizing that things don’t always need to be so compartmentalized was huge for me. Did I say huge? Because I mean huge. How else can my networks overlap? I’m not exactly sure but I’m excited to find out. This doesn’t mean that I’ll be getting rid of my organizational structure entirely, but the walls may come down a little more when it makes sense to do so.
Has anyone else had a “lightbulb” moment recently?