Anyone else gets stressed out as we approach mid-November?
When you are working in a fast and furious environment, the weeks and days leading up to the end of the year can feel like utter hell: end-of-the-year reviews and other 360s, bonus discussions, budgeting, meeting deadlines…the headache. Oh, and let’s not forget about those impromptu team gatherings and last-minute project changes.
How can you still be productive and achieve without the dread and anticipation of the pre and post-Thanksgiving?
Daily meditation, deep breathing, eating, and thinking healthfully…all work, but, as we both know, the job still needs to get done (by you).
Here is how!
Step 1 – Have a well-rounded strategy for self-regulation
Are you feeling frustrated, resentful, and angry even at the idea of doing anything?
Do you wake up dreading the office, all that you still have to do and so little time to do it?
Nothing can be more disruptive to your natural flow of work and productivity than when emotions get in the way.
If you want to make it to the end of the year with still a semblance of sanity, self-regulation and calming your nervous system should be your priority above all.
How to feel in control? 👉 plain old brain dumping, a thorough and daily updated to-do list and some “me-work” time without interruption.
Let’s think about the amount of information that your brain has to process during hectic times. What is important? What is plain noise? Difficult to know when the flow doesn’t stop.
A well-organized to-do list will help you visualize and prioritize your deliverables.
Be thorough, include habits and routines, and break tasks into smaller sub-tasks for easier management.
Can you feel the thrill of crossing out items? This will help you feel more in control and give you the opportunity to feel achieved as the days go by.
Personal advice: give yourself a few minutes before you leave the office to review where you stand, so you are also preparing yourself mentally to close your work day (to the extent possible). Repeat In the morning after you have reviewed your emails.
Step 2 – Bring your leadership to the forefront
How can you manage your workload and your team’s through these crazy last few weeks? Keeping the momentum, meeting your deliverables but not over-extending, and not creating excessive work and burnout?
Observe in which areas you have the tendency to micromanage and those where you are not enough hands-on (hint: communicating with your own boss for example).
Now is a good time to remind yourself of your goals, as a team leader and as a professional.
How do you define your values? Write down your vision for yourself, the team, and for each individual.
Where do you want to get better at?
If right now it’s about meeting deadlines, focus on soft skills rather than adding more work to your already unmanageable schedule.
“Crises” are where leadership is made.
How can you leverage the current hectic times to get better at [planning, managing conflicts, managing up (don’t forget!), internal communication, ..]?
Turn the situation to your advantage, not by gaslighting yourself! but by seeking, when it is possible, a new skill to master that can be added to your leadership portfolio.
Step 3 – Prioritize self-respect
No boundaries = overwhelm guaranteed. Do you know yours?
Defining your boundaries is not creating walls and saying a systematic “no” to what lands on your lap.
Boundaries should be defined on a case-per-case basis, with these questions in mind:
- Am I in a mental state where I can give a reasonable answer without my emotions getting in the way?
- If I accept (or decline) this project/task, how feasible with my deliverables, and how aligned with the team’s goals and mine?
Don’t commit either way when you are angry and frustrated or when you want to get rid of the problem quickly – taking a step back is also a form of boundary.
The more control you have when you give your word or commit to an action, the more in command you will feel at the idea of doing it.
As a leader, it is also part of your leadership to set the boundaries of what is acceptable or not for you and your team.
In the same vein, you may not be able to choose the projects you are involved in and the people you need to interact with, but you do have a say over how much space you allow them in your mental system.
Back to you: the other part of self-respect is also about knowing what energizes you and doing more of it as a form of self-regulation.
Incorporate mini-breaks – take the time to enjoy a hot beverage, or a casual conversation with a colleague, or schedule a mini-mentoring session with someone you trust if you are in need of guidance. Use those pick-me-ups anytime you feel depleted, demotivated, or fringing frustration-land. The quicker you deal with the depleters, the less overwhelmed you will feel at the end of each day, and the better guide you will be to your team.
Step anytime when you have done all the above and it is still crazy around
1/ You cannot do it all – No panicking, things will fall into place eventually. First, remind yourself that you cannot do it all, and if too many expectations have been placed upon you, have that conversation, ask for advice, and do your best, i.e., do what feels right for you at that moment. Seek feedback as needed.
2/ There will always be more work waiting for you – no matter how much you are already producing. So if you are still feeling guilty for not working enough, examine what’s behind that feeling. Are you taking on more responsibilities than you should? Are you delegating enough?
3/ Be a strategic facetimer – No, you don’t need to attend all the work social events, but you must those where showing your face is part of the “making yourself more visible” strategy.
One last piece of advice: when you are about to blow a fuse, remind yourself what you are appreciative of today (without gaslighting yourself!). How would you feel if you didn’t have this job?