September 28, 2011 / Editor-in-chief's Corner / Fall 2011

Editor-in-chief’s Corner: Setting yearbook deadlines takes planning

Written by Catherine Gamble

Creating a yearbook can be one of the most gratifying aspects of high school, but it can also be a particularly thankless and stressful job – especially when submission deadlines roll around.

Don’t fret, though! A little early planning is all you need to keep your book on track and your staff productive and happy. Here are some tips for meeting deadlines, minimizing stress, and maximizing the quality of your yearbook.

Set reasonable goals. This is perhaps the most crucial aspect to keep in mind when crafting a schedule of deadlines. It is impossible to finish half the book in one month or to photograph every sports team in a day. Know the limits of your staff and the scope of the material they must gather, as well as the amount of time you have to finish the book. Space the work out evenly from there.

Leave room for error. Cameras can get lost, staff members can get sick, and sports games can get rained out. Any number of setbacks can derail a deadline, but exigent circumstances are no excuse for falling behind! Try to work a few spare days into your schedule to compensate for anything that goes awry.

Have a back-up plan. Nothing is worse than a hastily finished yearbook. If you think that a rush-job will be the only way to meet your deadlines, scale back your ambitions and submit less than you originally intended. You may have to work harder come next deadline, but at least it will give you a chance to re-group. Alternatively, pick out a few easy-to-complete pages and submit them instead.

Perform weekly check-ins. This can help you stay up-to-date with the progress your editors and staff members are making. Try blocking off five minutes during each staff meeting as a time for everyone to share what they’ve accomplished. Follow up with individual editors at a later time, if necessary.

Keep a wall calendar. Posting bold, colorful deadlines in the meeting room can help your staff keep track of their obligations. Sometimes a visual cue can be more helpful than repeated verbal reminders.

Work with the experts. It is often daunting to map out a feasible schedule of deadlines. If you are having trouble, go to the people with the most experience. Your adviser can tell you how deadlines were constructed in previous years and your yearbook sales representative can offer tips gleaned from other schools. If possible, get in touch with past editors and ask them how they approached deadlines.

Learn to let go. You have one day left and still have not taken that perfect shot of the volleyball team. Don’t worry about it! Pick another photo, replace the image with some fun text, or re-arrange the page to compensate. Chances are your readers will not even notice what is missing.

Reward your staff. Meeting deadlines is difficult, so it is important to acknowledge your staff for a job well done. Bring some snacks to the next meeting or simply give hard-working people a special shout-out. Trust me, they will appreciate it.

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Catherine Gamble

Catherine Gamble was editor-in-chief of the 2011 The Bruner yearbook at Trinity School in New York, N.Y. She joined the staff two years earlier, where she served as section editor of the student life section in 2009 and 2010. After high school, Catherine continued her studies at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.