Well, some days that is exactly how I feel. Like I have to keep my attention on so many different areas of political party life. And that comes with the job of being a county political party chairman I guess. OK so let me back up just a bit and clarify one thing, by job I mean volunteer position that I was elected to at our county convention. I do not get paid, a common misconception.
But yeah there are a lot of plates spinning in the air. And there are different people helping out with different things, fundraising, GOTV (Get Out the Vote), voter registration, voter outreach, branding, events, volunteers, candidates, building and bills, precinct organization, polling and poll workers, etc the list goes on. A lot is going on all at the same time, and most days I feel on top of things. Not that everything I would like to get done is getting done, but I have my own system. I know that I need to write everything down and set priorities and let go of the things I don't have time for.
But then there are days when I feel like those plates are wobbling some, OK maybe a lot. You take your attention off one plate and it really starts to shake and almost fall, so you run over there and start it spinning again. There are plates that I have to let fall, no matter how good the idea is, it just isn't going to happen this year. And that's OK too.
In a rural county, volunteers are limited, and we all work hard. Another misconception is that there is this magical money and help flowing in from the state or national party.
Yeah, NO! In all the rural republican dominant counties I know, there is no help coming in from anywhere other than the Democrats within the county that want to see things change. We want to see a brighter future for our families, we want everyone to rise together. So we work, we donate, we hit the pavement, knock on doors, make phone calls, study the numbers, and do it all ourselves. Volunteers every one of us.
It is a lot of work and I would like to get into some of that work in other blog posts. It isn't rocket science, there is no secret, just lots of hard work. So even though I feel at times like I am dropping the plates, I know there are others feeling the same way. I know there are Democrats right here in Burke County that will help me keep those plates spinning. And we are in this together. "Our best days still lie ahead." And we are managing this circus, making progress.
Things that help me and might help you as well:
1. Remember your mission statement
Always come back to that. When things get busy, check to make sure the things you are doing are in support of your mission. That is where it all starts and to which everything leads back.
2. Make a list and set priorities.
I keep many different lists. I have a list of ideas, things I can look over if I need a fundraising idea or a different way to reach voters. I have a list of ongoing projects I need to check in on from time to time. And I know who is spearheading those projects and working on them. I make out a to do list every week of the top three or four things I want to get done this week. As well as a list of the top three or four things I don't want to do but NEED to get done this week. I also keep a side list of things that I can drop if time or volunteers run short. With these lists I also.....
3. Block off time each week to work on my lists.
For me I am always working on things. But I set aside Monday from 1-3 and Thursday from 10-2 when I will be in my office working on party stuff. So people know they can catch me there if they have questions or ideas. Like I said I work on things at home or I will go into the office for a few hours on other days. But those two days I am always there.
4. Keep a list of volunteers
This is critical. Know your help and what they are willing to/able to help with. I know who my volunteers are, what they have done in the past and what they will do now. So if I need help with something I know who I can call on that might help. I am also always working on that list to bring in more and more people. This isn't something you can do alone. You will need help.
5. Don't be hesitant asking for help or for donations.
You aren't doing this for yourself, you aren't asking for money for a vacation. You are asking people to work to help improve their community, you are just providing the opportunity and the training. You are asking for money to work toward change. So ask for what you want. People might surprise you.
6. Take a break.
You need time to just let your brain rest. A wise man once told me that this job will grow to consume the time available. And it will. There are an unlimited number of things you can do, if you want to put the time into it. But always remember to have down time. And that doesn't just include a family vacation. It means time each week when you are NOT available. As important as it is for people to know when you are in the office or available, it is just as important for them to know when you are not available. Not answering your phone, not answering texts, not checking e mail. That way they know if they text you at 10:00 at night, you will not see the text until the next morning. People know that at 9:00 PM I am heading to bed. If anyone texts or calls me after 9, I will not answer. So have your down time.
And reach out to other party chairs. They can be so helpful, especially if they have been doing this for a few years. Together we can do this! We can keep this circus going!