Running your virtual team is an all-year commitment. Once the excitement following ALA Annual Conference has hushed, it can be easy to let some of your team’s work fall to the wayside. This can result in a rush of work in the weeks leading up to conference season. This guide is intended to give you some concrete steps to help you evenly distribute the work you have to do throughout the year.
Plan for the lulls while things are exciting
In-person meetings and conferences are an exciting time to brainstorm and to get ideas flowing. Sometimes this is when decisions are made and ideas or initiatives are born. Do you ever find that once you get back on the plane and head home, that some of the driving force behind your great ideas can get stuck in neutral?
While you are meeting your teammates face-to-face, be sure to make concrete plans to meet online, call, or follow up regarding the exciting things you discussed when you met face-to-face.
Create your meeting schedule at the start of your mandate
When scheduling a meeting, there are several tools to make the process hassle-free.
The first step is to determine everyone’s availability. Doodle is an easy and free tool to survey availability. The poll creator sets initial days/times, and then can email a link to group members. Once group members have participated, a day and time can be selected. When using Doodle, ensure you enable time zone support so that there is no confusion for attendees in different regions.
Some groups also like to use WhenIsGood (also free) for scheduling meetings. It’s up to you which tool works best for you.
Once you determine the time for a meeting, consider using The Time Zone Converter’s event link generator. Enter the time of the event and your time zone, and then you can send a link that attendees can click on in order to see the time in their own time zone.
Google Calendar is another useful tool for organizing and scheduling meetings. It allows for individuals to create multiple calendars, with various sharing options, to manage and schedule events. With this tool you can make recurring events, add guests, specify notifications, make the calendar public or private, color code sessions, and add video calls (to events). Shared calendars can be useful for multiple users, and there is an app for mobile access. It also integrates with many tools; many of the virtual meeting tools have a Google Calendar plugin that populates a personal calendar. In fact, many web conferencing services have built-in tools for scheduling meetings. Committee members do not necessarily need to subscribe to the software to have meeting integration with Outlook, etc.
Also, each ALA group has a dedicated ALA Connect group, which includes a calendar tool. Events can be downloaded from the Connect calendar to Outlook, Google, or iCal personal calendars, although the system does not send email notifications when a new event is added to the calendar.
While tools help the scheduling process, creating a consistent meeting schedule early on allows group work to stay on track.
Schedule reminders a week in advance
In order to ensure that team members are prepared for meetings, it’s a good idea to set a reminder in your own calendar a week in advance of your scheduled meetings. You can use this as an opportunity to email your team to remind them about the upcoming meeting and to remind members about pending action items. You can also add reminders in Google Calendar and Outlook.
Create a shared calendar for projects and deadlines
You may also want to create a shared calendar to store your group’s project deadlines and targets. This allows all committee members to engage with calendar content. It also helps you to prevent your committee work from getting lost on the back burner.
One easy way to do this is with Google Calendar, which allows you to create and share a group calendar. You can even view a snapshot of your shared calendar in Outlook if you prefer to get notifications that way.
At the beginning of your team’s mandate, you can outline important milestones in your shared calendar. This can include important due dates, elections information, meetings, and other things that you don’t want to fall off your radar. Your dates don’t need to be set in stone; you can use the shared calendar to remind you to schedule a meeting later in the year.
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