Summer is over for many and Winter isn’t here yet. September and October is often a Limbo time. It’s too soon for major holiday planning but you can feel the approach of the end of the calendar year. Summer vacations are over but there seems to be a slow return to what will be a hectic pace to make up for it all. I’ve been sensing some lethargy in people who usually are high energy! (Maybe me, too!)
This would be a good week to make the time–schedule it-and tidy your office or work space, organize your work for the next few days and get some projects off your mind.
1. Take everything off your desk top and dust or wash items. Don’t just shuffle things around, make it look better and different when you put the items back–and don’t put all the items back. Stuff can be very distracting, both to you and to others.
2. Make a priority list of three items only. Three. Preferably three you’ve been stalling on. Do them as quickly as you can and get them out of the way. They might not be three Vital tasks or Crucial tasks, to use that concept. They could just be three tasks that you don’t want to think about anymore. Do them quickly.
3. List all of the remaining projects you must do and when they must be done; tasks you think would be good to do and when you’d like to have them started; things you really would like to get involved with and will if you possibly can sometime. The idea is to see what is hanging over your head with a vengance and what is just self-created pressure. If they’re on a list, you at least won’t forget about them completely, but you can let them rest. You may never do some of them, but you might adapt the thoughts some way.
One way to get focused is to make sure that you are being dependable for those who are expecting you to keep promises about work. After the three quick tasks, those are the tasks that need your attention.
4. Take a moment to do some introspective thinking about what is frustrating you right now that you have some control over. What are some things you can do to move yourself past that frustration? Think hopeful thoughts about the rest of this month and into the Fall and Winter. Let some anger or irritation go. Give yourself some peace of mind.
5. Survey your kingdom–or at least your cubicle, locker, patrol car, work space, or wherever you spend most of your time–and let yourself feel refreshed and recharged about it.
A man who seems very put-together told me last week that about once a month he has to stop for a moment, get things re-organized and say to himself, with a pleased sigh, “OK, that’s better. Carry on.” Make this week your time for that kind of emotionally and mentally healthy activity, then let me know how it makes you feel. Best wishes!
We distinguish the excellent man from the common man by saying that the former is the one who makes great demands upon himself, and the latter is one who makes no demands on himself.
Jose Ortega y Gasset, Spanish philosopher and essayist (1883-1955)
Most of us want to be thought of as excellent–in our work, in our example, in our efforts and ethics, in our health and appearance and in our outlook on life. We want to be excellent parents, excellent friends, excellent employees, supervisors, managers or leaders. We don’t want to be common in the sense it was used in this thought, as unexceptional, mediocre and unimpressive. (The examples we see of that condition are enough to motivate us!)
Señor Ortega y Gasset was correct: Achieving excellence (or improving substantially) requires making demands on ourselves–perhaps asking of ourselves actions that are difficult or uncomfortable mentally or physically, or that require time and effort. It’s rarely easy. Most of us have to say, ”OK, Mind, Body and Spirit. I want this from you! I know you can give it to me and I won’t settle for less, so do it!”
What do you want to demand of yourself today, this week or in the coming weeks and months? It doesn’t have to be a dramatic accomplishment to be worthy of demanding more. Maybe you need to more consistently fulfill the requirements of your work role. Maybe you need to focus on a new or renewed good habit; or stopping one thing and starting something else; or, being your best self even when you are tempted to be otherwise. It’s all worth the effort, and all of it will give you a wonderful sense of achievement.
Remember, you can’t hint or hope, even to yourself, and expect to achieve. You will have to command, insist and refuse to accept anything less than what you want. That is the ultimate self-discipline that leads to excellence. Be demanding!
The song by Vince Gill is often reserved for Christmas, but it seems appropriate as we remember not only those who died on September 11, 2001, but soldiers and others who have died for the cause of peace before then and since then.
As individuals we cannot change the present or future in dramatic ways, but we can be more caring and peaceful in our own lives and with those we encounter every day. We may know that there will likely never be peace on Earth, but we can wish for it, pray for it and work toward it. Let There Be Peace On Earth. (See the four little arrows at the bottom right of the You Tube video? That’s so you can expand Peace on Earth to full screen size! Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do that in real life?)
Parties with coworkers and managers can be fun times when people get to know each other better outside of work. However, there is also the potential for problems. Whether you are considering hosting a party or are invited to one, plan ahead to ensure that your party memories–and memories about you–are good ones.
1. Attendance is optional. Some managers don’t attend any parties hosted by employees since they may not want to–or cannot–attend all of them. Some employees may simply not want to socialize with coworkers they don’t much care for the rest of the week. In most cases, in spite of the fears of a few employees, you can say you have other obligations. (If you are the host, don’t push people to attend once they’ve said no. They have their reasons.)
Having said that, let me add this: Attending parties hosted by coworkers, employees or managers is a good way to show willingness to be part of the group and to build better relationships. Don’t automatically say no. If you’ve had bad experiences in the past, use some of the following tips to have a better experience the next time.
2. Be clear about the type of party and what to expect. If children are invited you can be fairly sure the event will be less problematic (at least in some ways) than if the invitation has a beer keg and phrases like, “Party ‘Til You Drop!”
If you are hosting, remember that a party can be merely a time of relaxed conversation and some food and beverage (even non-alcoholic beverage). It doesn’t have to be a bacchanalia with conga lines, limbo dancing, wet t-shirts and embarrassing toasts.
3. Leave while things are still fun. The fact that the invitation says, 7:30-?????, doesn’t mean you have to stay until ?????. Many people find it more fun to make a brief appearance, mingle with purpose and leave when they see that things are either getting rowdy or losing sparkle. You can usually tell when it’s time. If you’re hosting, don’t plan a big activity for later in the party because some of your guests will probably be gone.
4. Remember that you’ll be working with everyone after the party. What happens at the party will not stay at the party. How do you want to be perceived back at work? It’s possible to have fun while still keeping in mind that once a business-like relationship is destroyed it can’t easily be regained.
5. Keep some basic warnings in mind:
- Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want photographed or taped surreptitiously and sent to others by email. (And don’t be the kind of snake who would do that!)
- Keep your conversation light and able to be quoted without coming back to haunt you. If you’re a manager you can bet that anything you say that is flirtatious or risque or that sounds like inside information about work will be quoted and misquoted, so censor yourself. (I certainly have been burned enough to know about that!)
- Don’t talk about work, except in the most general way. It takes the relaxation out of the party and is boring to most guests.
- Don’t make the mistake of thinking that work hierarchy doesn’t apply at parties. Of course it does!
- Participate. Walk from group to group to say hello and introduce your guest. Don’t stand in the corner people watching–it looks rude. If you don’t want to be at the party, don’t go, but don’t attend then act miserable or aloof.
- Get outside your usual work clique and mingle with everyone.
- If you bring your spouse or partner, swear to each other that you will present the image of a happy couple. No bickering, arguing, flirting with others or showing your unloving feelings. If you can’t keep it together for a couple of hours, you should stay home.
- Demonstrate your social graces and social adeptness. The repercussions of bad behavior can be severe. The memories of you being a gracious guest or host and a pleasant person (even if you feel you are behaving a bit more bland than normal) will remain in the minds of others for a long time.