Welcome to the latest installment in our series on the “Day in the Life” of nonprofit communicators! This series lets you describe your workday in your own words.
We’d love to feature YOU in this series! Don’t be shy – tell us what you do in a typical day as a nonprofit communications pro.
Eugene Patron is Communications & Marketing Director for Point Foundation, which provides college scholarships and mentoring to LGBTQ students. Prior to joining Point in 2011, he was Press Director for Brooklyn’s landmark Prospect Park and a freelance writer and editor. He has a Master of Science in Urban Affairs from Hunter College.
And this is his typical day:
Before 8:00 a.m. – If I’ve let my cat, Mazel, sleep with me, he wakes me around no later than 5 a.m. with his insistent meowing that it’s time for breakfast. After feeding him, I’ll get back into my bed with my Kindle and scan the New York Times before dozing off again for a half hour or so.
Then I get up for the day, turn on the radio and listen to “Morning Edition” on NPR while getting ready for work. I’ll check both my personal and work email and social media channels (always someone to wish a happy birthday to on Facebook).
After showering, I’ll eat breakfast while packing my lunch. If I’m feeling energetic, I’ll also pack my things for the gym after work.
Before heading out to the subway, I’ll check what’s on the calendar for the day and respond and/or send some work emails.
8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m – Working from NYC for an organization based in L.A., I usually get into the office sometime between 9:30/10 a.m. since I’ll work until at least 6 p.m. to span some of the three-hour time difference.
I’m not a stickler for cleanliness, but about twice a week as I wake the computer out of hibernation I’ll clean the keyboard, mouse, and surfaces since I usually eat at my desk. I fill my water pitcher and get a cup of tea or coffee; I’ll alternate between the two throughout the day.
Having already read the daily mailing list emails I subscribe to at home, and during the subway ride, I’ll first focus on the emails that I can quickly work through. I’ll make screenshots of any media hits and share those, as well as saving attachments into the project folders they relate to so I don’t have to scroll through the inbox to find them later.
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. – Once I feel my inbox is organized, I’ll check-in on our communications coordinator who shares an office with our development associate. In the remaining time before people arrive at the L.A. office, now is a good time to get any editing and writing done without interruptions.
While projects and the pace of media outreach changes with the calendar, there’s always some event or outreach collateral that needs editing before it goes into production. I’ll cross-check to see if the website will need updating to be in sync with the information and messaging I’m editing.
12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. – If there’s some reporting or accounting that someone in L.A. has asked for, I’ll get that done around midday in NYC so they’ll have it in their inbox first half of their day. The first of multiple conference calls with the west coast usually starts around midday; today’s key call is a discussion of the upcoming redesign of our donor giving society brochures.
I’ll grab the salad greens I brought from home, the hardboiled eggs and other salad accompaniments and put lunch together during the call. Once the call is done, I’ll eat. Each day while eating lunch I’m trying to read more of the book, New Power by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms. Unfortunately, my inclination to use lunch as an opportunity to look at Politico or other news sites to see what is going on in the world competes with my intention to read more than a few pages.
2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – I use an adjustable standing desk that I love, but I usually find myself sometime in the afternoon sitting and reaching up at an awkward angle to type; putting unneeded stress on my shoulders. I have to remind myself to either lower the desk or get back to standing. Usually, as a motivator to get back to standing, I’ll stand up to get a cup of coffee from the machine in the kitchen and then return to working in standing position.
With the graphic designer in our L.A. office now in full swing, there will be PDF drafts of projects such as sponsorship decks that need to be reviewed and returned to her with edits. I often find that there’s information about events and programs I’ll glean from editing these pieces that I didn’t learn of in previous conference calls, so I’ll jot notes down on a pad and then add the additional info to both my hardcopy and electronic project folders.
After 4:00 p.m. – We’ve tried using different project management programs, but have not yet found one our comms team likes. So, I still write out my to-do list by hand and scratch off items as they are done. Going over the list in the late afternoon helps me review what things I’ve requested from people that are still outstanding and I’ll send gentle reminders to people.
It’s also a good time to look at the calendar for the next day or two and think about what advance prep is needed. If there is more editing and/or writing which requires a lot of concentration I’ll try and get some of that done, because by 5:30 p.m. I like to turn on the radio and listen to All Things Considered.
If I haven’t already made multiple forays across the hall from my office to that of our comms and development associates to ask them questions related to things I’m working on, I’ll pop in to see how they are before their day ends around 5 p.m. I don’t have a window in my office, whereas they do, so it’s also a chance for me to see what the weather is like out after being indoors all day.
Around 6 p.m. I’ll start the process of winding things up. I’ll add new notes to my to-do list, put notes into my Outlook calendar with reminders, and likely quickly pen some notes on Post-its and affix it to the top of hard copy files as visual reminders for the next day. I’ll update the New York Times on my Kindle so I’ll have plenty to read on the subway back to Brooklyn, and send any last emails — at least from my desktop; I’ll still keep up with correspondence via my phone until I reach the gym. Once I change into my gym clothes, I’ll finally feel like the work day is over.
Thanks for sharing your day, Eugene!
Want to be featured in this series? Tell us what you do in a typical day as a nonprofit communications pro.