This guest post by Sue Burzynski Bullard continues a series on advice for new top editors in Digital First Media newsrooms.
A piece of advice someone once gave me became my rule to live by as an editor: “Always do what you say you’ll do.”
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But the transition from being responsible only for you to being responsible for others – reporters, copy editors, and photographers – isn’t simple. Suddenly, the demands on your already packed schedule get even crazier. Everyone wants you. Everyone needs you. Right now.
And you want your team to be able to depend on you.
So “do what you say you’ll do,” or to “be where you say you’ll be” means getting organized. And if your idea of organized is smacking Post-it notes all over your computer, you’ll quickly discover you need a better way.
Here are a few digital tools that may help you:
- Use a calendar. I prefer Google calendar because it’s simple to use and it connects with my Gmail account, contacts and other Google apps. Google has a slew of training videos on how to get the most out of your calendar. One of my favorite features is setting up text message alerts for events in my Google calendar. Check out these tips for using Google calendar from BetterCloud.
- Set up a to-do list using Remember the Milk. It’s a free Web app that allows you to create multiple task lists. Create due dates, and Remember the Milk will send you reminders. Choose how often and which way you’ll get reminders. Organize tasks by using lists, separating personal chores from work. Or perhaps set up a to-do-list of things you need to do for each of the people you supervise. Access Remember the Milk on your phone and connect it with your Google calendar.
- Can’t give up the Post-it notes? Create a virtual corkboard with NoteApp, formerly corkboard.me. It’s essentially a bulletin board with sticky notes without the paper. Color-code your notes to stay organized. Share them with your team.
- Reading a lot on the Web? Having trouble remembering where you saw that story you want to pass on to a reporter? Frustrated trying to find the Web site again? Social bookmarking sites can save you time and can help you share information with your team. Save and tag (you can use multiple tags) items in either Diigo or Delicious. Both are a great way to save, find and share resources. You also can find others with expertise in the area your team is covering and follow those sources if they’re using either site. And best of all, you can access your bookmarks from any device or computer.
- Need to share files, photos or even videos? Create a Dropbox account now. The best part: You can share Dropbox folders with members of your team. And you can access files from any computer or device. You’ll never have to search through that email inbox you haven’t cleaned out again. Instead of emailing your team, start sharing on Dropbox. For me, Dropbox is indispensable.
I use all of these digital tools to stay organized.
Here’s one I haven’t tried yet, but a colleague says it’s fun. You may want to try it if you need a little push to get organized. Carrot is a to-do App with attitude. It rewards you for good behavior. And if you fail to complete tasks or ignore reminders, an angry Carrot doesn’t tolerate laziness. It might be what you need.
Bottom line: The hardest part of becoming an editor is realizing your success depends on many other people. And all of those people are depending on you. Let’s face it — you don’t have time to be disorganized these days. Use digital tools to stay on track. Do what you say you’ll do – when you said you’d do it.
What tools help you stay organized and do what you said you’d do?
Sue Burzynski Bullard teaches editing, reporting and multimedia classes at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Before joining academia, Sue held a variety of editing positions at The Detroit News, including three years as managing editor. During her career, she worked as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Michigan and New York. In 2011, Sue wrote “Everybody’s an Editor: Navigating Journalism’s Changing Landscape,” an e-textbook. She’s won numerous awards for teaching and for her journalism. In 2010, she won the Promising Professor Award from the Mass Communication and Society division of AEJMC. The Society of Professional Journalists, Detroit chapter, gave her a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. She serves on the executive committee of the American Copy Editors Society (ACES). Sue has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University and master’s degree in administration from Central Michigan University.
Thanks to Sue for this guest post. If you’d like to propose a guest post as part of the series, email me at sbuttry (at) digitalfirstmedia (dot) com and we’ll discuss. I’m not interested in a post of general leadership tips. I’d rather have a post addressing a particular leadership topic, as Sue did here. Feel free to suggest a post that might address a topic I’ve already covered (or am planning to cover), but from a different perspective. I welcome posts that disagree with my advice.
Earlier posts with advice for editors
Here are topics I am planning on covering in this series (the order is tentative). What other topics should I cover?
- The power of questions
- Respecting authorship
- Face-to-face communication
- Personal life
- Time management
- Developing new leaders
- The editor’s blog
- Role models
The posts probably will run daily Monday-Friday for the next few weeks.