The Holidays bring their own set of challenges to our business lives. One of the most significant is the impact to maintaining focus. We have days off, co-workers on vacation, customers at parties, and vendors taking time off (or a mix of those situations) to contend with. We also tend to have tasks that need to get done before year end. All of this can make the final weeks of our year a stressful period.
The Way Forward
Every time I run into an obstacle like this I find it best to step back and simplify things. We usually need to start this season by acknowledging our limits. It is almost impossible for us to get everything done that we want to. It is a cliche, but there are not enough hours in the day. Even if we work weekends and skip sleep, we still have others that are not going to be that determined. Once we admit that something has to drop off our list, then we can sort through our tasks and make a plan.
The obvious next step is to set priorities. We do this exercise all of the time. A list is created. Then we sort things that are not as important down to the bottom of the list. At some point, you cut off the lower priority items and are left with tasks that can be done with the given resources. It is that easy. Ok, that is not always easy. We have items on our list that have to be done, and it is rare that the number of “must do” assignments fits in our schedule. At that point, we have to make some difficult choices. There is nothing wrong with this challenge. It forces us to go back to the source of the tasks and determine what indeed is required as opposed to the nice-to-haves.
I find that some of the best management lessons come from desperation. Most of us think that we are not only the best to accomplish a task, but we are also the only ones that can. When we do not have enough resources to get things done, we are forced to find more resources. This is where we have to lean on others. Just as you return to the source of tasks to verify what is required, ask yourself if those tasks must be done by you. Where others can help, ask them to do so.
The most common source of failure in year-end goals appears to be estimation issues. There are so many things that occur during this season that are “surprises” that our plans will always be blown up. Our schedule is forever impacted by others. However, at this time of year, people tend to be less reliable than other months. There are all sorts of reasons for people to not be available to us. When we need their presence, then we have no choice but to delay. This may fly in the face of the recommendation to delegate. However, the solution is not to take it on ourselves. Instead, we must assume that obstacles will be more prevalent than other times of the year and build in more buffer to our estimates than usual.
There is no silver bullet to solve our hectic Holiday schedules. Nevertheless, these easy steps can help us stay merry and reduce our “Bah Humbugs.”