Lessons from University Long After Graduation

Amidst the everyday traffic chaos, the pushing and squeezing in the rail transit stations, the general feeling of frustration brought about poor national governance and corruption and other worries and disappointments came messages of hope from the university I graduated from – messages that I used to hear on a daily basis before that gave me so much optimism, but are rarely heard now, save for the occasional homily given by a Jesuit priest. These are the messages that I’ve longed to hear.

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These messages of hope from this evening’s of testimonials entitled “Women Leaders: In the Footsteps of St. Ignatius” which is part of “40 Years Half the Sky: Celebrating Co-Education in Ateneo de Manila”, a campaign celebrating the presence and contribution of women in the university. Ateneo first opened its doors to women in 1973 and now women slightly outnumber the men. The women spoke about how Ignatian values and spirituality are making an impact on their lives.

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Ateneo President Father Jett Villarin gives the Opening Remarks

The women leaders who spoke were CHED Chairperson Dr. Patricia Licuanan, Filinvest Development Corporation President and CEO Josephine Gotianun-Yap ad Rags II Riches Founder and Director Reese Fernandez – Ruiz.

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Dr. Patricia Licuanan, Chair of the Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED)

Dr. Licuanan shared lessons on balancing one’s career with a rich and relaxed personal life, balancing leadership, the zest for change and courage with management, systems and prudence and being a voice of hope by finding comfort in advocacies and reforms and even afflicting people’s comfort zones.

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Josephine Gotianun-Yap, Filinvest Development Corporation and Filinvest Land Inc. President and CEO

Josephine Gotianun – Yap shared that in business, having a sense of responsibility and vision trumps power. In business you have to set a moral tone which will guide the mission, vision and general operational direction of the company.

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Reese Fernandez Ruiz, President and Co-Founder, Rags2Riches (with Monch, and Dan and Bem in the photo)

Finally, Reese Fernandez – Ruiz shared that being more reflective or in her words – “disturbed” – has helped in her growth as an individual and how it has helped grow her social enterprise, Rags2Riches. Her testimonial actually hit home because I actually went through what she went through. Like her, I prepared a plan on how to be rich and successful and life, and found myself deviating from the plan after encountering prisoners from Bilibid, having an internship in UNICEF, volunteering for a non-government organization, working for another non-government organization and having the heart for development and business. Her questions struck me and her answers pretty much validated the path I’m taking now. Her parting words to the audience were, “Never stop asking ‘Why?'”.

I’ve actually stopped asking myself that after graduation. From my short healthcare stint post-graduation and in my business and development sector career now, I’ve never really asked. I just kept going, and feeling and knowing it’s the right way to go.

On my way home, I found myself asking myself “Why am I doing what I am doing?”.

And after 7 years of exploring the world through healthcare, education, development and marketing, I now have answer.

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Better Work Management, Better Productivity

Better Work Management Better Productivity

Image Source: under30ceo website

There are three things that I gave up this year that allowed me to work better. I’ll list them down here and if you find what I’ve done doable, then you can follow what I’ve done.

The three things I gave up were multi-tasking, making long and unrealistic to-do lists and finally, working at a pace unfit for me.

Let’s start with multi-tasking. I would do a lot at the same time before, thinking that was the right way to accomplish as much as I can. I was wrong. I would be creating documents, perform administrative tasks and looking for prospect leads all at the same time. Also I allowed myself to end my work hours late, just so I could finish everything. I never really got anything substantially done, and would feel stress and tired at the end of the day. I allowed myself to get in that stressful cycle that many people allow themselves to get into, based on the notion that it is the norm in the business of marketing and communications.

The reason why I multi-tasked was because of the second thing I gave up: the long and unrealistic to-do lists. Ever since my first job, I loved seeing my calendar packed with tasks. Again, it was because of that “big-city-busy” mindset that I had. If there was something non-urgent pending, I would put it there, even if other heavier tasks were on hand. Those non-urgent tasks pended for a long time, with some left unattended to completely.

Because of trying to do things at a fast work pace, I sacrificed the quality of my work before. In addition, I was always panicky and disorganized. Having a to-do list and multi-tasking so much just to check off everything on that list left me more disorganized than organized. I thought something was really wrong with me since I couldn’t cope. Then I started reading a slew of articles on productivity and success a little earlier this year and that’s when I realized that the two things I had been doing – multi-tasking and having long to-do lists weren’t exactly right, even if they seemed normal in terms of business practices. Also, having a slower pace wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

The first thing I stopped was multi-tasking. I still had a long to-do list, but I performed the tasks there one by one. When a colleague or client would text, call, e-mail to request something from me, I would finish the task at hand before responding. For my colleagues, I would inform them that I was doing something, and that I would get back to them when I’m done.

The next thing I did was learn to create shorter to-do lists. I’m still in the learning process, but the shorter lists have gotten me more work done. They have helped me regain focus, especially on the bigger things that our organization is striving for. In addition, I numbered the tasks according to priority.

The last thing, which I just started doing, was to move at a pace that fits me, with no feelings of insecurity or guilt. I can say that the work I have done are substantially better, because of my focus on the tasks at hand. And oh, my work table looks remarkably neater now!

There are still times when I have to work past the prescribed work hours or work faster than the pace I have. But being more focused in my work management has lead me to cope with these instances better. While this has worked for me, others might like working at a fast pace, with more tasks. To each his/her own. It just so happened that the above things I changed worked for me.

Thanks for reading my blog!

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