Its been 3 weeks since I was in Pakistan – an action packed visit with Penny, OGB’s International Director, along with Oxfam NOVIB’s International Director, Theo and Regional Director, Anjo – flying from one end of the country to the other, taking in Oxfam staff teams, OGB and NOVIB partners, the occasional parliamentarian and old friend or two. It was a busy week but we still found time (mainly in the back of cars on bumpy roads) to reflect on where Pakistan, the country is going, how change might happen and how organisations like Oxfam engage in that process – it’s a tough year ahead for Pakistan I think……
But as ever there are moments of joy when you visit communities and see the impact of all actors working together – I had one such moment on this visit – in a field in Sindh.
The Government of Sindh had decided to allocate some government land to poor women headed household – progressive I hear you say – indeed – one of our Partners decided to support this process in enable women to know about the allocations and how to apply (sounds simple but in a rural area with low literacy rates – just how do you get your messages across?) – many were successful (although a number had their allocations contested – rich landowners contested their ownership – and them with little redress). Power in action…
We met one amazing woman who talked to us at her 3 acre field holding her deed of entitlement . She had been given by the partner through an Oxfam grant, a starter kit of seeds and fertilizer to grow her own wheat – since that first crop – she has saved some for her family and sold the rest, raising enough money to buy new seeds and even to hire labour when she needs.
She is an older women whose family has grown – so this is her dream which will keep her in income for the rest of her life – she was clear that she didn’t need more land nor did she want to try new crops – this was enough – this was the improvement in her life she needed to be happy.
We asked her what her husband (who was sitting across the path from her) thought about her being a landowner – she replied that theirs was a long-term love – and he supported her and wanted her to be happy.
I asked how she had learnt to deal with all the new things that come with owning land – hiring labour, getting a good price, learning how to plant and harvests – and she said - when I got my land I got my brain! And that is power in action!
Inspired or rather maybe concerned by the number of questions about how I manage my time as Regional Director – I set about thinking how I do my work and what lessons I may be able to share – these won’t work for everyone, so take what is useful for you
So here goes;
- Talk – to your line manager, your colleagues – so that you are clear about what you should be focusing on – keep that conversation going – talking through issues and challenges is a real way to come to solutions
- Plan – you Do need to plan – an annual workplan for your team, with clear priorities – develop a 3 month plan for yourself so you know what your contribution is to the bigger plan – then plan at a weekly or monthly levels. Plan any trips or work outside the office in advance to that you can fit your other work around trips or meetings
- schedule - I know you may not be the type of person who likes to plan ahead – but scheduling/keeping a diary/using your LN calendar is a real practical way to keep track of your commitments (and lets others know how busy you are!). It will ensure that you make the most of your time
- To do list - yes we all need them – I have one for every day and its very satisfying when you are able to cross things off – it will also show you when you are putting things off – when they keep appearing on the list!! I use post its for a daily to do list!
- Do the hard stuff first - I try to do one hard thing (or one I don’t like) first thing in the morning because then the rest of the day will seem easy! We all need to tackle things we don’t like – so tackle them head on – courage!
- Time to think – plan in some time to think – whether to have a paper to write or a PIP to revise – so you will need some head space to decide what and how – put aside a couple of hours every month, plan it in your diary, find a quiet space in which to work. Giving ourselves thinking time helps us to work more productively
- Keep people informed - you can’t do everything all the time – so if you are not going to be able to make a meeting or a deadline – inform people – renegotiate – have a discussion about priorities – silence won’t help anyone!
- finally, keep TALKING - there are plenty of people out there who can help you sort through the complexities of work and expectations – use them!
So there we go – not all the answers but some things that work for me
Thank you to Mobeen from the Pakistan programme who inspired me to write this post
Good luck with getting your ducks in a row (i.e. getting more organised and using your time better!!)