5 for 5 blog – The most wonderful time of the year

14 Dec


Good morning everyone.

Yup. That wonderful time of year is upon us. People all over the world are racing towards the holidays with excitement. Having worked with teams all over the world for over a decade I know they love the holiday, at least from emails, as much as we do.

But my issue is this…on more than one occasion I have talked with people who relish the roughly two weeks at the end of December and early January as “time to catch up”. In fact, I used to believe in that as well. That somehow I could muster super productivity and get to inbox zero or crank out a master strategy that had been lying dormant in my over-busy mind. But what usually happened is endless email waffling backed up with useless web surfing. The intentions were there. But the gravitational pull was to get away, not dive in. Our minds get tired.

And that is the point. Please, you crazy ambitious people who hope to grind the keys on your laptop to their plastic core in  the attempt do a full inbox abatement…..don’t. Let it go. If you have an email over 3-4 weeks old, chances are the other party has completely forgotten about it or the problem has been solved. And if you response then is you will spend the time filing…shame on you (and me).

We do each other a favor….call it a holiday gift to our bosses, our peers, and our teams for the new year. Unplug. Completely if you can. Mostly if you cannot. If you are so completely obsessed with your email, promise me one thing, you will only block an hour a day to clean house. Don’t know what to do with yourself…..here a some suggestions:

  • Read a book – Not sure which one to start with…….”The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday. It’s one of the best things I have read in the last year. For the average reader, you can probably knock this off in a weekend.
  • Watch a YouTube channel to stretch your mind – Again, not sure which one, search “Brian Johnson”. Click on anything. Seriously. Brian is reviewing 2-4 books per week and he publishes is 101 lessons from his Philosopher’s Notes. Most videos are in the ~10 minute range which is perfect. Have a notepad ready. (Here’s a link to his website to get started: https://brianjohnson.me/)
  • Exercise – And not just because you still have a food coma from Thanksgiving. Exercise is linked to so many positive body and mind attributes it is amazing. Find a small way to re-start your workouts. Company gyms are a good place to do this over the break. Ideally you will begin building a habit you can carry forward into next year.
  • Reflect – PUT. THE. DEVICE. DOWN. Seriously, NOONE is calling you in this time frame. Reflect on the past year. Write five frustrations that you keep coming back to…..these are probably your big projects for next year. Make a gratitude list. Write down all of your team members and think back to the amazing things they did in the last year. Think about where you can get better.
  • Get back to an old creative pastime – I will be grabbing the camera. Haven’t cooked in a while, I’ll bet a quick search on your favorite cooking methods and preferences will pop up a ton of idea. How about grabbing that guitar. Notebooks are relatively inexpensive, go back to drawing. We need creative outlets to stretch our minds. Rather than patting yourself on the back from getting to 600 to 400 emails remaining in your inbox in a day, please revisit your creative muse.

Sorry for the rant, but please, let’s do each other a favor and get away. Unplug. Veg. We need each other to be fresh and ideally full of new ideas. And mindlessly droning through emails will wear us down more than it gives us the jumpstart we think we are getting.

Disclaimer: Before managers all over the world start sending hate mail, trust me, I get it. Recently I have worked in a business that literally shipped product until December 31st. I was on twice daily calls to ensure that if I needed to support an urgent last-minute drop-in that I would have all relevant information at hand. I am not suggesting abdicating responsibility. But at least balance it. If you are not in the cross hairs to ship until the end, see above. And if you are a manager, how about something novel: try modeling it for your team, so they are not checking the box in the office.

Here are this week’s 5 for 5 articles:

3 Things the Most Creative Leaders Do – by Tom Kelley – Via Harvard Business Review

How To Grow The Purpose-Driven Workforce – by Aaron Hurst – via Fast Company Exist

Are You Trying to Solve the Wrong Problem? – by Peter Bregman – via Harvard Business Review

Making a new decision – by Seth Godin – via @thisissethsblog

This Is All There Is (And It’s More Than Enough) – by Ryan Holiday – via Thought Catalog

All the best, kevin