Bring joy to your coworkers … with Outlook?

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OK, so when I use the word “joy” in this headline, I don’t necessarily mean obvious, delicious joy, like, surprising everyone with their favorite candies or work snacks or flowers …  (but you can do that with a joy survey).

I have broadened my definition of joy-bringing to include making our lives easier.

Case in point: Time and Effort forms (arrrrgggggh). I can’t magically make these required grant forms go away — which would indeed be joyful — but I can make them more convenient. So I’m working on digitizing the signature process. That’s sort of a microburst of joy, right?

Another example of small joy bursts: Sending Outlook meeting invites whenever you plan events or meetings with your teams.

This may seem strange or obvious, but it would be a big help, according to members of our Campus Engagement Workgroup. 

Back in September, as the new facilitator of this group, I took the time to send out meeting invites for each of our five Tuesday meetings through the end of the fall semester. 

I have to admit I felt like I was spamming everyone. But several times, our team members have expressed gratitude that I sent them. It made their lives a little bit easier to manage (and they showed up to the meetings!). 

If you’ve ever been involved with a grant, then you know sending Outlook meeting invites is standard practice in the grants office. One of our main functions is to facilitate and bring structure to grant projects, and we do this by scheduling meetings and providing agendas and recording meeting minutes.

And another confession: Most of my career was spent in a casual newsroom, so the idea of meeting agendas and minutes and even Outlook meeting invitations seemed a bit too formal when I started at VWCC almost four years ago.

But I’ve come to see the value of these almost invisible practices, which help keep us focused and communicating. Outlook invites can help meetings become even more productive, as you can include links or reports or other important documents for easy reference … no need to keep sending separate email attachments. And the automatic reminders built into the invitations will help everyone, too. 

While we’re on the topic of using digital calendars … I’ve found the idea of “timeboxing” an effective way to keep up with my insane to-do lists. I primarily use Google Calendar to keep track of my family’s activities and household chores … but my Outlook calendar helps me prioritize VWCC projects and break them down into micro-tasks. I even build in time every Friday afternoon to take a look at the week ahead (do I need to add an agenda for a meeting on the calendar?). If you’re curious to know more, this Harvard Business Review article is a good introduction to the concept of timeboxing:

And if you ever want to chat about grant opportunities or some ideas that might lead to a grant, go ahead and send me an Outlook invite. 🙂

— Stephanie Ogilvie Seagle, November 2019

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About Stephanie

Stephanie SeagleStephanie Ogilvie Seagle has served as Grant Specialist at Virginia Western since 2016, but she prefers her honorary title: “Chief Joy Officer.” Stephanie spent most of her career at The Roanoke Times, a daily newspaper, where she served in various news and features roles including “Shoptimist” shopping columnist. She earned a bachelor’s degree in integrative studies at George Mason University and a master’s of arts in liberal studies at Hollins University. Stephanie is a mom to one human daughter and multiple chihuahuas … and is obsessed with reading nonfiction, Halloween, and crafting glow necklaces inspired by the Mill Mountain Star. Glow Roanoke!