Creating Your Own Chaos: Lessons Learned, Solution

Published by Kathryn Anda, PEPworldwide on 8 October, 2013

Last week, I wrote about how even good planners can create their own Chaos.

This week, I’ll share some thoughts on why this happens, and how to get back into shape.

First, keep planning!  Too many people wail “It’s no use! No matter how well I plan, Chaos ruins everything!” Just because you got bitten is no excuse to quit.  Be brave!  Take a deep breath and get back to planning.

Do you plan every single minute of every single day? Work smarter!  Start leaving some “white space” in your calendar to allow for your own humanity.

Smart people are their own worst enemy. Smart people think that because their minds work quickly, their bodies can work at the same speed. It’s not possible.  You can’t end one meeting at 0900 and begin another at 0900. Practise leaving at least half an hour between scheduled events. The benefits? You’ll arrive on time more often. You’ll have more time to think. You’ll take care of follow-up items from one meeting before starting another. Your stress levels will drop. And you’ll get a chance to go to the loo!

Are you trying to be a Super Hero? Work smarter! Stop trying to do it all, all the time. When you must be out of the office for a while, it’s no use trying to work up to the last minute before you leave. It’s crazy to jump right back in the minute you return. Embrace this:  Chaos is your faithful servant. Chaos will see you off on your voyage, and Chaos will welcome you home.

So plan for Chaos. One technique is what I call the “Vacation Sandwich”.

Let’s say you’ll be out of the office for two weeks. It can be a long business trip, several off-site meetings, or a well-earned vacation.

Block off the entire day before you leave to tie up loose ends. Take no meetings. Make no promises. Why? Because the minute you tell people “It’s my last day”, they’ll panic! They are so focused on doing their own job well that they forgot about your schedule! They’ll come up with 10 things that you must do before you catch that plane. So, schedule loose time to do it.

When you get back into the office, your first morning will be…you guessed it. Chaos. So block off that whole morning to settle the issues that arose while you were gone.

Voila. The “Vacation Sandwich”.

Emergency room teams and disaster response crews know that planning can help manage crises.  The PEPworldwide Team agrees:  even small gains in planning give big victories over your old friend, Chaos.

If your planning has gone to the dogs – and from time to time, it will – get right back in the game. If Chaos has knocked the wind out of your sails – stop. Think. Plan.  Let the sails flap for a moment. Check the wind and the tide. Then GO! Tighten the lines, get some planning momentum. Now you can make progress!

Keep planning. Even if you control only 10% of your time, you’re 10% ahead. Often, that’s all the edge you need to start major improvements in how you work.

Planning delivers time to think, time to lead and time to connect with people. If you really want to get down to business, get rid of all that “busy-ness.” 

Productivity improvements are our business.

Do you have any good tips about avoiding Chaos, or recovering after Chaos steals your power? We welcome your comments and contributions. 


business productivity, personal productivity at work, personal effectiveness at work


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