Operation: Crisis Management

KBB_elastic_bandsOnce in awhile, you will find yourself in a tangle.

If you are reading this, then maybe you’re in the middle of one right now. Or maybe you’re reading this because you’re hoping to have the information in case you run into trouble one day.

Either way, you are not alone. We are together in this. I am here for you.

I got the idea of “Operation: Crisis Management” from an English teacher I had way back as a senior in high school. She was incredibly sensitive to the overwhelming pressure we faced before graduating and she’d watch as even the best of students (including myself) would crumble under the enormous workload. Every once in awhile, she’d take one of us aside after class, sit us down and declare, “You need crisis management!” Looking back on it, I’m amazed how often she took the time out of her own busy life to go over our assignments with us and decided what we needed to prioritize in order to get the most important things done. It’s something for which I now I am incredibly grateful.

All of us will eventually need to evoke “crisis management”- whether we’re catching up on work after an unexpected illness, coping with a family emergency, or experiencing personal problems. These are all crises, and you can work through them.

The most important thing is that you find your helpers first: a team of friends, family members, colleagues or members of the community who are willing and able to provide the resources that you need in order to manage whatever you are going through. If you do not have access to these resources, find someone you trust and ask them to help you. At the very least, you owe to the people who care about you to let them know that you’re working through something difficult. They want to be allowed the opportunity to help.

Professionally speaking, it’s important that you maintain honest, direct and appropriate communication with your superiors and your colleagues about your capacity to perform at work. Maintaining boundaries is important and healthy, but a few quick words with your boss about your break-up, or the death of a grandparent is better than taking time off without warning, or spending the majority of your shift crying in the bathroom.

Now more than ever, it’s important to be mindful of your own needs. People are over-scheduled and over-worked as it is, and dealing with a crisis lowers your mood, zaps your energy, and in some cases makes you sick. You are allowed to take a break, which means learning to say no to anything that’s not an immediate priority during this time. Delay and delegate tasks whenever possible– it will allow you the breathing room you need to complete whatever needs to be done, and hopefully give you time to recharge. Eating right, drinking water, exercising, fresh air, meditation and getting enough sleeping all help with burnout. (For more tips on how to deal with burnout, read this post. I’ll also convince you to sleep more here.)

Sometimes crises will come up and they will be unexpected, or inevitable. Personal crises such as deaths, physical and mental illnesses, break-ups or other emergencies will, unfortunately, happen to all of us.

Once in a while, we come across people who always seem to be in crisis whether it’s because they’re overwhelmed by their dysfunctional family, burdened with continuous relationship problems, or constantly take on too many projects at work. You may be one of these people yourself.

Bad things happen to everyone. It’s how we cope with them that counts.

As difficult as it may seem, each challenge we face comes with a learning opportunity that ultimately helps us understand and grow as human beings. Sometimes there will be things that happen that are circumstantial, or out of our control. Sometimes they are sad and unfair. But we have a choice as to how we handle them.

If you begin to notice the same patterns occurring, and the crises you seem to face over and over again are similar, it may be time to revisit your own behaviors and choices. Be honest with yourself and ask what you may be contributing to your own crises. Do you avoid making decisions? Are you saying yes to more things than you can handle? Instead of beating yourself up about past actions that you can’t control, figure out how you can use this information in the future. Maybe it means learning how to set better boundaries, or learning when to say no. You have the power and the self-insight to develop your own coping mechanisms in the best way you see fit, as long as it doesn’t inflict any harm on yourself or others.

J.D. Salinger once said, “On particularly rough days when I’m sure I can’t possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100%, and that’s pretty good.” I’ve survived 100% of the bad days as well.

You can too.

KBwB-BFlower-50Sending lots of love and good feels out over the interwebs to anyone that’s going through anything. I hope this post helps you in some small way.

Even though I write a blog with the word “busy” in the title, I still feel like we do way too much stuff. Part of keeping busy is finding a balance, so sometimes I blog about that here. I hope you take the time to find balance, too.

 

 

 

 

 

Where Do I Start?

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I am the first to admit, we’ve all been there. Even the most organized of us have had our moments where we’ve abandoned all sense of routine and have left our spaces to be taken care of by the cleaning elves.

Unfortunately, there are no such things as cleaning elves so we’re left to deal with the giant messes we’ve left in our collective wake. It doesn’t mean we’re lazy- it just means we’ve been busy, too tired or too frustrated to get things done. Ok, sometimes it’s laziness too.

But when faced with a back log of filing, a large organizational project or even just a big mess from last night’s party it can be hard to know where to begin. How do we motivate ourselves to tackle all that work.

I have bad news: there is no right solution. Everyone procrastinates, falls behind or gets overwhelmed from time to time. We’re busy people getting busier, so it stands to reason that backlog will happen to even good people. The best solution is prevention- figuring out why we get so over our heads in the first place.

But that’s not helpful advice to anyone trying to find their laptop under giant stacks of paperwork and mail that have been collecting dust for at least a week. (Disclaimer: That has never happened to me before. Ever.)

Here’s my advice then. Consider it a gentle kick in the behind.

Make like Nike and just.do.it.

I’m serious. It’s as simple as that. You may send me hate mail telling me, “Oh, B, but you don’t understand X”, or, “I just have to do Y”, etc.

But honestly? You don’t. Just pick one thing and start. It may mean that you figure out it’s a bigger project than you anticipated. You may realize that you’ve picked the wrong thing to start with. But at least you’ve learned more about the task at hand. It may even lead you to create a plan to get the rest of your project done.

But worst case scenario: you actually got something done! Celebrate! Do a crazy dance at your desk! (Make sure no one is watching first.) Take that happy, accomplished feeling and run with it. Who knows? It may be the source of motivation you need to start another project, and another. Before you know it, you could find yourself chugging along like the efficient little organizer you are deep down inside.

So go ahead and do it! Get off of your computer, or iPad, or phone, or whatever and do something. (Unless it involves one of the aforementioned devices.) Then let me know how good it feels. Just so you know, that light airy feeling you’re experiencing? That’s the feeling of the weight being lifted off of your chest.

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Need more help with jumpstarting your project? Find out more about what I do here. Feel like doing it yourself? Check out my other articles on running a business or keeping busy for inspiration on how to get your next project going.

What I Would Have Done, Had I Been You

KBB_bookmark_mugSometimes one of the biggest mistakes we make, both personally and professionally, is not taking our own advice.

It may seem like common sense to trust your own judgment but unfortunately when we’re neck-deep in situations ourselves, it’s hard to maintain the same kind of level-headed thinking that comes so easily when helping to solve a the problems of a colleague or friend. So what is a professional like you or me to do?

A woman I knew was guiding me through a difficult situation and I was getting frustrated that the answers were not coming easily. She asked me, “Well, what would you tell a client in a similar situation?”

I thought about it, told her what I would have recommended, and asked her again what she thought I should do. She smiled and said, “You already told me.”

Isn’t it funny how we have to step out of our own shoes in order to step back into them? When solving a problem in the workplace or at home, try asking yourself what advice you would give a friend or colleague in need. It’s a little like thinking outside of the box- it can take some time to get the hang of it, but the results are more often than not innovative, positive and rewarding.

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If you’re not going to take your own advice, at least take mine. Check out my business section for more posts filled with practical advice you can use RIGHT NOW in your own personal and professional lives. If I were you, I’d go read them all right now. Seriously.