Cutting through the Craziness
The holiday season is upon us! It seems like it came quickly this year – and I’m caught in the dizzying array of errands, travel planning, parties and all that makes the holidays feel like a holi-daze. With all that is going on, it would be easy to be distracted, overwhelmed and unproductive. Instead, I promised myself I would try to focus now more than ever on what is essential about the AMCHP mission – our shared work of supporting state maternal and child health programs and providing national leadership on issues affecting women and children. Here are three strategies I find helpful in focusing on our core, maybe they will be helpful to you as well:
Get Back to Your Center: I find that many of the things that overtake my attention this time of year are more distractions than mission-critical items. When those feelings of distraction and stress start to emerge, I step back and “get to my center.” I ask myself: Why am I in this work? What is my passion for this work? What is really important about the work we are doing? What do I have to do to move our work forward? These centering questions help me focus and cut through a lot of the clutter. If it is not essential to meeting our mission, it can wait.
Prioritize What You Need to Do: After some time thinking through what’s critical, what’s important and why I am doing this work to begin with, I find it fairly easy to prioritize among the many things I could do. I create a list of must-do items – things that have to happen for us to truly move forward. That conference call on a topic that interests me, not a priority right now; finalizing the annual conference general sessions before the holiday: a must. With this list of priorities it is easier to manage the constant deluge of new items that everyone else is e-mailing me (they must be prioritizing too!) to do before the holiday break.
Who Are Your Partners: Once my priorities are in order, I look for help. What do I have to do and what can I work with others to accomplish, both internally and externally? So much of my stress and overwhelmed feeling comes from thinking I have to do it all myself! Once I realize I can share, delegate or assign work to team members and partners, the burden is eased. And by engaging others in the work the end product is usually much better than something I would concoct on my own.
So, as you embark on another season of celebration, think about these three strategies to manage what often times feels unmanageable! Let me know how you do. And as always, all of us at AMCHP wish you a great holiday season and a very, very happy new year!