The Rushed Madness December Brings
December. The final month of the year. Notorious for end-of-year deadlines, high expectations, annual goals to complete, and, of course, a surplus of stress. Not exactly the elements holiday movies are made of, right?
The elements are familiar, though, from my experience as an operations leader. I remember the rushed madness that filled the air each year as my team and I worked to wrap everything up before taking some time to enjoy the holidays.
And now I see my clients experience that same rushed madness as the year approaches its end. The difference is I’m no longer running on the end-of-year treadmill as I once was. I’m an outsider looking in, a leadership coach hired to guide my clients to greater harmony, alignment, productivity, and satisfaction.
The Time Has Come to Stop That Treadmill
I help leaders stop that treadmill for good because there is no good that comes from feeling rushed, overwhelmed, and frazzled in the final days of the year—or anytime, for that matter.
What’s most important now (and always) is that you take care of yourself and focus on what’s within your control. If that sounds like the put-on-your-own-oxygen-mask-before-helping-others analogy, you’re right. It is. And even though it’s overused, I’m curious– are you doing it? Do you place a high priority on taking care of yourself and what you can control?
Prioritize Yourself, Leader
If not (or if you’re too overwhelmed to even contemplate the notion), here are some ideas designed to help you finally power off that doggone treadmill:
- Start each day with a reminder of how you want to feel and what you’ll think to make it happen. I know the feelings of stress and overwhelm aren’t anyone’s desired emotions, yet without conscious reflection, many find themselves there. What is it you want to feel instead? Calm. Confident. Decisive. Curious. Courageous. Optimistic. You get to decide. Then before you let the chaos of the day tangle you in negative emotions, determine what thoughts will help you stay in the positive emotion(s) you chose. Some bestsellers: I’ve got this. I’m a strong leader. I do hard things. I have full control over what I think, feel, and do.
- Assess your priorities for the day. In my online group coaching program, The Leadership Lab, I recommend three priorities per day. Leaders who have been in the Lab sometimes laugh at this notion. They tell me they have hundreds of priorities to accomplish, and there’s no way they could narrow it down to just three. I disagree. I believe leaders play into the rushed madness when they aren’t decisive about their MITs (Most Important Tasks). When they get caught up in tasks that are better suited for team members (hello, delegation!), they lose sight of where their brilliance is best used.
- Take regular breaks. I hear some busy leaders say they don’t stop for lunch, for a brief walk, and sometimes even for bathroom breaks (yikes!). They think this take-no-breaks practice makes them more productive, but the opposite is true. Breaks actually increase productivity. They also boost energy and focus and improve one’s mental health. This article from Better Up shares different types of breaks. A few options shared include a nature break, a food break, and even a dance break. Take any type of break that works well for you. Just take them!
- Stay connected with your team. This tip may seem unnecessary to mention because of course you’re connected with your team. Every day you delegate tasks, coach and guide individual team members, and get updates on everyone’s progress with their own goals and priorities. That’s excellent! Now take it a step further, and connect—really connect—with your team members. Listen on a deeper level. Foster and model transparent communication. Encourage collaboration. Create a work environment where each team member feels included, heard, and valued. And if you’re wondering how this helps you stop that rushed madness treadmill, take a moment to think of a time you connected on a deeper level with someone in your personal life. The experience is calming and profound.
- Reflect, adjust, learn, and grow. I recommend my clients use the WW (what worked)/ WD (what didn’t)/ WDD (what we’ll do differently next time) method when reflecting on results achieved. After implementing these five tips, if you find your treadmill has slowed down but not stopped, reflect on what prevents you from hitting the ‘off’ switch. Then adjust as needed. Embrace a growth mindset through this process by viewing missed results as gifts from which to learn rather than failures from which to run.
There you go. Five practices to assist you in stopping the rushed madness that December tends to bring. This final month of 2023 doesn’t have to be chaotic. You get to decide how you’ll wrap up the year. After all, you are the one in control.