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Strategies for Fitting Mentoring into a Busy Schedule

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Photo credit: Jess Watters /

Sometimes, it is the little things that make a difference — writing a thank-you note, giving a compliment, paying the toll for the car behind you or simply holding the door for someone. In today’s crazy world, it’s easy to get caught up in our own lives. Now I’m not perfect, but I consider it a good day if I do at least one good deed for someone else. Mentoring is one of those good deeds. At its very root, it is what WISE Within is all about — paying it forward.

While I was a first-time WISE Within mentor, I had the unfortunate experience of losing my job. During that challenging time, the strong network of people in my life — including my mentee — proved invaluable. When I returned to work full time, I was even more determined to help others, and while my decision to attend grad school has added another element to the mix, I am still able to make time to mentor. Here is how you can, too:

Take a step back and break it down

We often assume that we are too busy for another activity or commitment, but if you take a step back and break mentoring down into its most basic components — a 30-minute meeting here, a phone call there — you realize that what you are asking of yourself really gives back so much more.

Customize, customize, customize

The WISE Within National Committee provides basic guidelines for participation in the program, such as a minimum of one meeting every four weeks, but after that, it’s up to you. You and your partner are free to design a mentoring schedule that works best for the two of you. Use your initial meeting to decide on a strategy for success together — convenient times and places to meet and talk, the best way to get in touch with one another, the use of talking points — and be clear with your expectations.

Communicate openly

From time to time, things come up that are outside of our control. That’s OK. Communicate the conflict to your partner and work together to reschedule.

Be open-minded and enjoy the process

The mentor-mentee relationship is a mutually beneficial one. Not only can mentees expect to learn and grow, but mentors can as well. Meetings, phone calls and correspondence shouldn’t be a chore for either party, but rather an enjoyable discussion about your careers and passions. Feel good that you are helping another person and that person is helping you.

We all get distracted by the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, but you won’t realize how far a little bit of your time can go if you don’t try. And you never know, when you need it the most, paying it forward may come full circle.

Maureen Kelly

About Maureen Kelly

Maureen Kelly, a results-oriented marketing executive with more than 15 years experience on both the corporate and agency side, is senior sports marketing director for the American Cancer Society. Kelly attended WISE’s founding meeting 19 years ago and, in addition to serving as a mentor, was national program director on the WISE Within National Committee and a WISE Atlanta chapter board member and WISE Within committee chair.

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