Sometimes leading effectively is about inspiring and taking risks and effective communications.
Sometimes leading is about managing the chaos.
Now some would say that’s managing not leading, but I beg to disagree (in certain circumstances).
I think it takes a sharp chick to keep a cool head while juggling the ever-increasing number of balls thrown at her.
I attended a company women’s network event recently which divided women into small tables at lunch and had them discuss ways in which they were “superheroes.” (All stemming from this great empowering movement started by Axosoft, “It Was Never A Dress” – how much do you LOVE this campaign?!?!)
I came away amazed at what the various women managed. Single or married, mom to many or no kids at all, community volunteer-extraordinaire or back-to-school visionary, every single one of them had superhero stories.
At the conclusion of the event, several stories came out, but what also came out was how to best manage the chaos. You can’t lead unless you have a clear head and fretting over loose ends is a sure way to lose focus.
If you’re back in the work picking up/kids school starting/extracurricular schedules whirring season like we are, here’s a few tips I’m trying from my own trial and error and from other’s insight:
- Do “IT” the night before. Whatever “IT” may be. Lay out clothes. Pack the nonperishable parts of lunch. Sign folders. Heck, shower if your hair won’t get lumpy like mine. I know we’re all tired and fried and out of energy and will power at 10 pm, but those 5-10 minute tasks make a world of difference come 6 a.m.
- Keep a family calendar. Now everything I have going on in my life goes on my work outlook calendar, and I think my setting is private so the world can’t see my kids dentist appointment. I am not beyond sending my hubby outlook invites for a date (I know, romance in the 21st century) or parent teacher conferences. But there’s still a lot of communication and reminders that need to happen. So on the wall next to our kitchen table is a simple block family calendar. We have the school scheduled taped to the bottom (super chic, whatever). Some people do colors, but colors magically disappear in our home, so I write with the nearest instrument to the calendar. This includes my travel schedule, hubby’s travel schedule, all kid events and early pick ups. It’s our check in, not only with each other, but with our nanny who keeps our lives humming.
- Say no. September and October are inevitably insane. And it’s not going to slow down much during the holidays. In my life, September through December can be the most fast paced, frenzied times. I love speaking and meeting new people, but I have had to regularly turn down lunches and coffees unless they can come to an event I’ve already promised to attend. Particularly now that my commute is bad, adding more time in the car to my life is vicious.
So my fellow leading warriors, what do you do? What works? How do you stay calm and manage the hustle of the fall?