Image Courtesy of Richard Lyle
If ever we needed well-developed soft skills it is at this time of the year – the Christmas New Year period.
What is it about this time of the year?
Why do we all run around in circles trying to finish things when we don’t do the same at the end of most other months?
Why can’t we fit anything else into our schedules?
Why do we close off doing training, professional development, planning and all those other important things that bring excitement and enthusiasm to our organisations?
O.K., for some of you December 31 may be the end of your financial year. You want to get everything in a row before Christmas.
What about the rest of us, however? Why are we all so frantic?
I am going to be a bit provocative here.
I am going to suggest that we actually create this stress, overwhelm and sense of urgency for ourselves, that we turn it into a self-fulfilling prophecy that we’ve perpetuated over the years.
I’m going to suggest that you just STOP FOR ONE HOUR, find a quiet space for yourself where you are not going to be interrupted and just review what you want and need to do over the next weeks until Christmas.
Why would you stop, you ask, when you are so busy? Why not just keep moving at this speed so you can relax at Christmas and not have anything hanging over you?
Why…….because your busy-ness is probably hampering
the productivity of your busi-ness.
It was Abraham Lincoln who said: If I have one hour to chop down a tree, I’m going to spend the first 45 minutes sharpening the axe.
It was Stephen Covey in his classic business book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, who had as his 7th habit – Sharpening the Saw.
Both Covey and Lincoln knew that those people who don’t spend time sharpening their saw are going to take twice as long to do what they need to do, and going to have to exert much more effort and energy to do it and are likely to become angry, jaded and disillusioned in the process.
So Here are the Soft Skills you need to put into Practice to Stay Sane Over Christmas and New Year.
- Stop today for one hour and take time out to sharpen your saw for the work ahead in the next weeks. Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. Get your head in the right space (adjust your mindset) and tell yourself this is a good thing to do. It will make the next few weeks purposeful and greatly reduce your stress.
- Reflect on where you are at with your work. Draw up a list of unfinished business. Assess what you need to do first, then what you’d like to do – if you have time – and won’t be excessively stressed by doing it. It’s all about managing priorities so get those clear. If your manager has you overloaded and has set unrealistic expectations of you in terms of meeting deadlines, go and talk with him/her after you have become clear about your priorities for meeting your workload before Christmas. See if you can gain agreement about what needs to be completed and what can be left until after Christmas.
- Align this work with your list of commitments outside of work. Discuss with the important people in your life how you can work together to achieve those.
- Manage your energy and your time will take care of itself. Stop doing the things that sap your energy. Keep doing what energises you. Make sure you exercise because it is one of the greatest energisers and a great deterrent to stress and overwhelm. Take control of the food and drink that is abundant at this time of the year and consciously manage it.
This is all about consciously taking control of your life, knowing that this time of the year can very easily take control of you.
When everyone around you is struggling to stay on top of their work and their life – stressed, abrupt with others, irritable, fielding a messy office, forgetting things, not meeting deadlines, complaining about management and the workload, yet not doing anything about it and so on – you stand out as someone who can pro-actively lead yourself. This is about exercising your self-leadership skills,
These self-leadership and self-management skills are the soft skills that demonstrate self-mastery in your life and set you apart as a highly sought after professional. Even if you are not in a leadership position, you are demonstrating leadership qualities and are positioning yourself in the eyes of senior management as someone who has the qualities to be a leader when a position comes up.