Jumpstart:HR and Harlem Children's Zone Recap Day 1

Yesterday marked the start of my Virtual Internship Program at the Harlem Children’s Zone. President-elect Barack Obama once described the Harlem Children’s Zone as “An all-encompassing, all-hands-on-deck, anti-poverty effort that is literally saving a generation of children.”  Not only is this the first ever virtual internship program at HCZ but it’s a great opportunity to share with the world what’s going on with our partnership and how we’re making a difference.

Every day through January 13,  I will share a key HR or leadership lesson that my interns are teaching me and today it’s about staying focused.

Intern Project Coordinator (Freshman Female in College) to me:

“Task: We researched information on management skills. We created a survey and went about asking current employees about their management opinions.

Improvements? We could work on staying focused on the task. We need to get a lot more information on what it takes to be a good manager.
We have good hopes in our efforts for improvement. Tomorrow we will finish up the FAQs and have a full detailed outline for out next steps.
Thanks again for this opportunity
-Business Management Team”
My response to the team:
“Good Morning Business Management Team!

Great work yesterday on getting started, understanding the tasks and even being creative in creating your survey. I really like your initiative!

In your status update you mentioned that you had a problem with “staying focused.” Here are some steps to follow that will help:

1. Get together and plan your day, hour by hour. *What do you want to accomplish by 11? 12? 1? 2? 3? Set specific goals and do your best to work towards them. Your day should always begin with a plan.

2. *Understand the difference between “Urgent” and “Not Urgent” and “Important” and “Not Important.”In business and in life it is easy to get sidetracked from your plan by trying to address “Not Urgent” and “Not Important” things just because they pop up in your day. Have you ever tried to do homework and then you start getting on Facebook? That is but “Not Important” and “Not Urgent.” Ever have someone come up to you with a task and say “Can you work on this?” Tell them what you are working on and when you need to have it accomplished by and ask when they need their task done. Sometimes people will ask you to do a task and we automatically think it’s urgent so we shift our whole day around trying to accomplish this one non-important, non-urgent thing. I know, I’ve been guilty many times. The best thing to do is to understand what things really matter in your day and tackle those first. Don’t be afraid to say “I am busy, can someone else help or can I get to this after I finish my task?”

3. Never try to multi-task. Recent research has shown that multi-tasking is actually more taxing on the brain than just doing one thing at a time and completing as much as possible. When you multi-task, you are telling your mind and body to not only focus on the tasks but also to spend a lot of energy trying to switch gears and regain focus and regain train of thought. When you multi-task, a project that could take 3 minutes ends up taking 30. There will be times where it will be easier to just complete a 5 minute assignment that pops up and just be done with it but if you can schedule it in later and the task master is okay with that then go that route. Side note: When you commit to a deadline for a task master, be sure you are letting them know if you run into problems and if the project you were given is going to be completed after the deadline.

4. Focus on completion, not process. Your goal every day should be productivity. You should be able to measure what got done and how much of it. Set goals that emphasis “completion” and you will work your best at getting things done. Also, when you set a goal that is based on completion, you are better able to report what challenges you are coming across and someone can help you get your work done.

Hope this helps! Once you guys read this, respond individually and talk it over as a team.”