Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tips: Break out of the holidays and back into business

The holidays have kicked my creative tush.

I don’t know about you, but, as wonderful as the holidays are, they totally derail my daily business activities, not to mention creativity. And, let’s face it; I am in business – artist, writer, professional blogger and non-profit strategist.

But, gosh, isn’t it fun to escape from work and focus on the gifts, food and other people. So why does this make us dread returning to work responsibilities? In a word…”Guilt.” We know exactly what we haven’t been doing. Oh, yeah. We know. And we just don't want to face it.  It really is that simple. 

I admit it. The holidays blow my self-employed business momentum. If this happens to you as well, you might find the tips I have put together useful to get back into the creative zone…and the business of it.

Take stock and make a conscious decision about which day you will again “Hit the ground running.” Then, get up that day at a specific time and – hit it.  The key here is to decide on a date and time in advance...and honor it. Take your coffee into your studio/office – it helps.

Avoid being reactive – this means focusing on your immediate responsibilities/tasks instead of reading and answering your backlog of emails and social media. If you go there, you will be doing it all day. Or, better yet, set a time period during the later part of the morning that you will respond.

Make a list and stick to it. This time-honored, time management tool works. It doesn’t allow for distractions and your mind can’t wander if your “To Do” list is right in front of you.  To help you refocus and get back into a business rhythm -- try making a list of the most critical tasks you need to accomplish. Kinda ease into it.

Devote energy to “Looking ahead”. This is easy – make plans and schedule stuff for the future. Flip through your calendar for the new year and start filling in important dates. Pencil in meetings you want to schedule; relationships you want to build; deadlines you want to meet. Dream, plan a little, write it down. It can be inspiring…and before you even realize it, you are “back into the business of business.”

Happy New Year,

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's Christmas. No Stress. No Pressure. Ask Oren...

Here we go, or here we have gone...the holidays are upon us.  Many of us are running around feeling super stressed, getting angry easily, feeling pushed into a corner and find ourselves growling through the holidays.  Why is that?  For some reason the holiday season ramps up the pressure.  What is that about?  Let's ask ourselves this question and listen to the answer -- "What is this pressure I feel?"  Really, what is it?  It is a good thing to know the answer -- it can change attitudes and relieve that sense of being out of balance. 

Maybe you can identify with one or two thoughts on this list. I tried to cover most of the feelings I have heard expressed and some I've experienced myself: 

Forms of holiday pressure:
  • I have too much to do and I can't get everything done in time.
  • It is Christmas and if I don't give them the right gifts, I look bad.
  • It is Christmas and if they don't get the right gifts, they will be unhappy.
  • It is Christmas and I know I should be celebrating, but, please -- stop talking and ring up my purchases -- I can't wait forever.
  • It is Christmas and even though I can't stand my (name any family member), I have to be nice and put up with him/her.
  • It is Christmas and I don't have anyone special to share it with.
  • Why do I always have to do everything?
  • I don't have enough money to buy expensive gifts...but if I don't, people will think I am cheap or don't know the difference.
  • It's Christmas and everything has to be perfect.
OK, by now, you are probably seeing the "I" word in every single stressed out thought listed above.  My question...why do we do this to ourselves?  It certainly isn't in the spirit of Christmas -- you remember that, don't you, good will, generosity, peace, love, faith, generosity?

You know what, this year, the holiday season is all about the real things for me.  What do I want to give?  Good will.  Alrighty then... that's a big goal.  So what does that look like?  I posted a quote on my personal facebook page that sort of describes it and want to share it here, too. Take a look.  Of course, I will be giving tangible gifts, but I am putting the qualities on this list at the top of my list for the whole season...and beyond: 

Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect. -- Oren Arnold

These gifts don't come wrapped in pretty paper.  They come wrapped in the love of your heart; the ability to genuinely love others and... "appreciate yourself". 

How to do that?  Breathe; take your time; don't spend over your budget; take some time off -- away from work (even a few hours and go to your favorite relaxing place and sit for awhile with a good book...or Kindle :); decide, (yes, decide), that you won't react negatively.

Here's more...plan a simple holiday meal and ask for help -- don't martyr yourself, ask; realize the gifts you give to others are thoughtfully chosen by you and it is the thought that counts; realize in today's economy, the giant, perfect, gifts are rare -- and that is really okay -- probably even better; realize that for your family and friends, having you relaxed and happy, rather that stressed out and mad, is a gift in itself.

The best one I know?  Have faith, know it is going to be okay and if someone is disappointed, it isn't about you. Love and love and love some more.

Additionally, there are all kinds of articles with tips to manage stress and here is a link to one of them -- seems like a straightforward article and common sense 

My wish for happy and have a peaceful, satisfying, comfortable holiday season.
With respect,