When I initially made the switch to retail, one of my first managers – a very wise dude we refer to as Yoda – told me that “there is no such thing as a big deal. Anything can be handled, if you have the presence of mind to approach it the right way.” I’ve let this be my guiding principal for everything I do relating to client care for five years, and it’s turning out pretty well so far.
Amber Naslund of Altitude Branding made a very good point this morning with her post about Tough Love. In short, she says that there’s a lot of work to be done in any organization, from the giants to the individuals. We all need to get better at whatever it is we do, and one o the answers isn’t necessarily training or new tactics, it’s as simple as personal evaluation and nose-to-the-wheel effort.
It feels like a big deal, doesn’t it? It’s not, really, if you know where to look for the tools that will help you do better. They’re not the same for everyone, but I do have a few suggestions:
- Rest up! Make sure you’re taking time for yourself, and make sure it’s on purpose. There’s a big performance gap between people who rest whenever there’s less work to be done, and those who rest actively, taking part in community activities, or hobbies, or even doing hobby style work on the side. While moonlighting is stressful most of the time, having a hobby business loosely or not at all associated with your “real work” can give you something meaningful to do with your time. Active rest means avoiding the Summer Break syndrome at the end of the weekend, keep your momentum going and growing, and leave the lazy in the dust.
- Stop absorbing so much! Face it, we all love our blogs. If we didn’t, I wouldn’t be talking to you like I am now. But when we notice, forlorn, that our Google Reader unread list grows by a hundred articles a day, and it’s largely passive amusement, it’s time to pare down. Do something with what you’re reading. React to it on a blog, comment on the articles, encourage conversation. If you’re a creative, follow the tutorials and actually do them, don’t just read them. Our problem isn’t search overload, it’s stack overflow. We can only retain so much information in a useful way before it all becomes a blur of meaningless white noise. How much value do you get out of the two dozen blogs you follow then?
- Read Up! Counterintuitive, I know, given that I just said stop absorbing. But what I mean is, change formats once in a while. If you mostly read blogs, pick up a book. I don’t care if it’s hardcover, soft cover, kindle – fiction, non-fiction, a technical manual. Just read something different, exposure to new things is always a good idea.
- Blow Up Your Routine! Stop wasting your time! Active rest is a big help for this, but going through your day with intention is bigger. For example, the first thing I do in the morning is spend five to ten minutes outlining. I write much of what I post over lunch break, and edit when I get home in the evening, schedule for the following morning. This broken up routine beats writers’ block effectively because it keeps me engaged all day with a subject, but never allows room for getting overwhelmed. And that’s the trick.
After all, it’s all about avoiding the feeling of being overwhelmed, and knowing how to steer your own boat. You have massive opportunities waiting in the five minutes of down time you see three or four times a day. Even if you’re doing things not entirely related to work, building the habit of some kind of productivity, and eschewing the tendency to non-productive activity, is pretty likely to help with whatever it is that you’re doing to pay the bills.
Nothing’s a big deal. Go at it consistently and, most of all, make decisions! No one got anywhere waiting for a committee vote on their own lives. You’re the one who has to pull the trigger.
Photo by Jim Nix.