Now you're a councillor

Now you're a councillor

A site for women councillors in Victorian local government

What’s really  important?

Councillor Gaston was first elected to Warrnambool council in 2012, and then again in 2016 for a second term. She served a term as mayor in 2016 and again in 2017.

Focusing on what is important rather than urgent is so helpful…

I would like to put forward the case that the life of a Councillor is perfect for those who can juggle obligations well, something I think women are particularly good at doing effectively.

We are known for the ability to multi-task and this is really achieved through effective time management. Time management in my world equals lists, blocking time and working through priorities.

I have a trick … when everything starts to become overwhelming, I write a list.

All of the sudden I gain control and I get to start crossing things off that list. And I do this by blocking time to get the things done that are causing me the most pressure.

Focusing on what is important rather than urgent is so helpful. For instance, I do not constantly answer my phone during the day. I prefer to set aside time to listen to a block of messages and then prioritise who I need to ring back first and where I need to follow through. If needed this allows me to source information before returning a call. I find this saves a lot of time.

I like to take time to walk my dogs with my eldest daughter. What a great way to tick off more things on my list. The dogs get walked, and more importantly, I have quality conversation time with my child and the walk might help slightly with my waist line and also help my mental state. A brisk walk often puts a lot of things into perspective.

Serving our vibrant communities often means there is a lot on in one short week. Again, it is a question of making priorities and being able to say no at times.

I keep my diary up to date – I can always rely on my diary to tell me where I am going next.

We have a great deal of reading to get through weekly, especially when we first get on Council. I block Sunday nights in front of the fire during winter or in the garden during summer – reading time can be pleasure time.

Being on Council is a true privilege, which makes me happy. I didn’t appreciate the breadth and scope of the role until becoming elected – it’s one of those, you can’t know until you do. What I know now is that I am going to continue to encourage as many other women as possible to put their hands up.

This role has flexibility and when we manage our time well – we certainly can juggle quite a number of obligations!