Overwhelmed at Work? Three is a Magic Number

At a recent admission professionals conference, I co-presented with a colleague about the Portrait of the Graduate for admission. After the presentation, one of the attendees approached me to chat.

The young man is a few months into his job as a Marketing Communications Director at his school, having come from the corporate and non-profit world. He knows design, social media, and most importantly, he gets how to be strategic.

He also has exactly 1,364,228 things he wants to accomplish in the next couple of years.

Sound familiar?

And while he didn’t exactly ask me for advice on how to best approach his first full year at the school, I gave it to him anyway. (I seem to have a knack for offering unsolicited opinions – my teenage kids will confirm this for you).

I told him to set himself up for success by choosing only 3 initiatives he can realistically accomplish in his first full year.

Even if it’s not your first year on the job, this rule applies.

In your second year at your school? Choose 3.

A veteran with more than 10 years in the field? Choose 3.

I bet you’re sensing a pattern.

Here’s why. 

No matter what role we play at our school—marketing director, admission officer, annual fund guru—we cannot be everything to everyone. And we shouldn’t even try because it does our schools a disservice.

There is plenty of science to back up the idea that multi-tasking doesn’t work. And in many ways, cramming too much into school year “to-do” list is exactly the same.

When you stretch yourself too thin you end up doing a so-so job on a lot of things.

When you focus on just a few strategic, mission-focused initiatives, you can change the game and produce real results. The kinds of results that are not only measurable but those that positively impact the lives of the students and teachers at your school.

If you want to have a conversation about how to zero in on your what your strategic priorities should be for the year, shoot me an email. I’d love to connect.

In the meantime, remember … Three is A Magic Number.



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