It’s a dreaded feeling. You wake up not feeling well and think, “Oh no! I can’t be sick today (this week). I have too much to do!” We’ve all experienced it. Assuming you want to be respectful of not passing germs to others, you are thrown into reaction mode. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you’ve set up your systems to work for you, even on your worst days…
Dependable Personal Systems
(Hopefully) You have some form of a calendar and task list for managing inputs and commitments. I know many people who love color-coded calendars or physical versions with stickers and colored markers, etc. Those things are fun when you’re having a fantastic quiet day of planning. But when the firehose of reality hits you in the face with an unexpected cold, rescheduling all those tasks and appointments with their color-coding and specific calendars becomes a major annoyance.
So, this tip has two parts: 1. Have systems for managing your commitments so you can have the peace of mind of waking up not feeling well and easily seeing everything that needs attention, and 2. Make those systems as simple as possible so that even when you feel like crap, you can still use them effectively. As complex as it needs to be, but no more.
One of the reasons many sick people plow through is because they don’t have (or more often don’t think they have) dependable people and delegation tools. Yes, some of this starts with the whole hiring process years in the past, but often what really needs improvement during the good times is the communication of expectations. When people understand the mission, vision, goals, and work expectations, it’s a lot easier to hand off a broad outcome to them with confidence that they will achieve what needs to be done without you there sharing your cold.
Oh, and one more thing: if you delegate it and it gets done but not in the way you would have preferred…choose your battles! Sometimes we just need to accept that it’s done and move on. Others, a gentle thank you and, “in the future could you please…” later is appropriate. Don’t die on every hill, at the least, just to be efficient!
Dependable Organizational Systems
The third piece many professionals are missing is any organizational systems to account for contingencies and backups. If we don’t build contingencies into strategic plans, organizational charts, operational procedures, and just day-to-day work, we’re setting ourselves up for failure when a crisis hits. Don’t over plan…that’s just as out of control as NOT planning. But make sure key people know what to do (or how to determine what to do) if other key people, including the boss, are out of pocket, unreachable, or even incapacitated. The peace that comes from knowing things will go on fine without you temporarily is worth any extra planning work.
Self-Awareness and Patience
Finally, a small pinch of salt. When we’re tired, sick, cranky, or in crisis mode, we tend to snap, yell, and react. The leader must keep a cool head, be self-aware of when a “catch your breath” break is necessary, and be patient with people who are doing their best to get through the situation. Take a deep breath and be kind when you may not feel like it.
Dependable personal systems, team members, and organizational systems are the keys to performing your best when you’re at your worst. Fortunately, you can plan for all of these in advance.
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” -Benjamin Franklin
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