Two weeks ago the AARP Iowa’s Associate State Director for Communications, Ann Black, retired after 16 years at AARP. Since then, Brandi and I have been getting a much closer look at everything it takes to be in her position, and all the smaller tasks that she did on a regular basis that we never saw. All summer we have been learning, slowly, what it really means to be work in communications. For example, we have written press releases, but now that Ann isn’t in the office anymore, we have to figure out where to send the press releases and who to send them to. Brandi and I have spent an entire day devoted to going through all of Ann’s media lists and still are nowhere near done—a task that needs to be done in order to get news out effectively.
It is these seemingly small tasks that remind me how much there is to get done in a work day and how quickly an 8-hour day goes by while trying to complete everything. For example, the Iowa State Fair is going on so the office’s main focus is currently the fair. That makes every other task, no matter how important it may be for the longevity of the office, a lesser priority until the fair is over. With all the focus on the fair, I doubt that Brandi and I will be able to work on the media lists for the rest of the week. For me, a lover of to-do lists and even more so of crossing things off of my to-do list, I sometimes struggle with this. I like to start a project and completely finish it, instead of having it be a constant work in progress.
This summer has shown me that working that way isn’t always a possibility or the best practice, especially in an office with as small of a staff as AARP Iowa. I love the fact that when there is a big event, whether an employee is directly connected to it or not, everyone pitches in and makes it their top priority. That kind of partnership and camaraderie is the reason that AARP Iowa is as successful as it is and the reason why they can get so many projects done in a year, even if that means other projects are occasionally put on hold for a more pressing issue.