GETTING IN CONTROL
©2000 Eileen McDargh
In a world where "too much to do and too little time" is a common mantra,
there's a sense that everyone and everything has more control over our day
than we do. While we might be at the beck and call of clients, there are
still areas where the culprit is none other than ourselves. Using the word
"control" as an acronym, let me suggest ways in which we can begin to gain
some relief from self-induced pressure.
Can the clutter. Do you walk into your office and
instantly feel a sense that you could get buried in all that mess? Papers
are piled on the desk, on the floor, and in tiered boxes. Note that if this
is your natural style of organization, you'd feel pressure by having items
out of sight! But if you're like a great majority of people, clutter only
adds to the time spent in finding what you need. Do you use everything that
you have on display? Can you find items when you need them? If you've answered
"no," proceed to the next recommendation.
Out with excess paper. Examine what surrounds you.
What can you throw out, give out, leave out? If you are months behind in
journals and other publications, scan the table of contents and keep only
those items which you KNOW you'll need. Throw the rest away.
No, not, never, not now. Say it. Practice it.
We frequently nod our heads "yes" like a wind-up toy because of guilt, fear,
or a sense that obligation. Ask yourself, why do you say "yes". Perhaps even
a "not now" would suffice. I am convinced that if we do not put limits on
our time, it will vanish with our unknowing permission.
Talk up. To curtail long conversations or meeting, learn
these sentences. "I would like to be able to talk with you but I have another
engagement. Can you please tell me your request (situation, concern,
etc.) in 25 words or less?" First, you won't be lying with your opening
statement. You will always have another engagement - even if it's with the
report in your computer. Second, you have indicated a willingness to respond.
You have merely put a concise cast to the conversation. It's amazing how
"25 words or less"can increase the speed and fluency of conversation.
As a variation on this theme, you can also curtail a drawn-out conversation
with this question: "How would you like this conversation to end?"
Read only what matters. And what matters concerns
your business, your future, your soul.
Operate early. This can mean everything from getting up
early to doing things early. If you pack for a trip, don't wait until the
last minute. Prepare, in advance, your suitcase, your briefcase. The only
things that need to be added are last minute items. Create artificial
deadlines which are in advance of the true deadline. You'll always feel more
Lighten up. Perfect isn't always perfect. Look
for and relish the unexpected. There is serendipity when we allow ourselves
to surrender to events and times over which we have no control. The weather-hold
which keeps my plane grounded allows me to complete a piece of writing I
could not have finished. The shop which closes just as soon as I approach
the door lets me walk down the street and find other stores which I had never
Getting in control is ultimately about getting clear on our work habits,
our priorities, and our values.
Eileen McDargh is a woman of many hats: author, radio commentator, organizational development consultant, acclaimed international speaker, and retreat facilitator. Author of four books including Work for a Living & Still be Free to Live, and The Resilient Spirit, she's a frequent contributor to numerous business journals and produces a radio commentary, Celebrating the Human Spirit. Visit her web site http://www.eileenmcdargh.com or contact her toll free at 877-477-4718