As a parent, how many times have you heard that? I hate school, I don’t want to go to school, I have a tummy ache, I’ve lost my uniform so I can’t go. As children we think very short term and often dread what is happening in the next few hours. Is that just a trait of children? I’m not so sure. Come on admit it. You have had that Sunday evening feeling. You’ve had a great weekend but, wow, has the past 8 hours gone quickly. You are now thinking about the 10am meeting with a difficult client or supplier and all your ‘Weekend Wonder’ has turned into the ‘Sunday Night Sadness’. My answer I give my children is a simple one. Find the positives. Think about play time, seeing your friends, the subject that you really love or your favourite teacher.
I use the same approach with work. I mentally separate my days into four types of event:
1. Events that benefit me. Meetings that allow me to develop people, client opportunities and generally benefit the agency.
2. Events that I enjoy. These could be creative sessions, blue sky discussions or working with inspiring, exciting people.
3. Events that are a chore, necessary but not overly beneficial. I admit that admin is not my strong point. It must be done but I don’t love it.
4. Events that will be difficult. Giving bad news, meeting people with opposing points of view, handling conflict and disagreements.
Each Sunday I review my upcoming week and identify my objectives for each entry in my schedule and score each entry as a 1,2,3 or a 4. As I prepare for the coming week I focus on the first and forth type of event. My rationale being that type 2 are easy to attend and type 3 are a necessary evil or may not actually require me to attend. By focusing on point 1 I ensure that my focus is on the growth opportunities and I can spend time and energy preparing to get the best possible outcome. With point 4 I also commit time and energy to get the best outcome bearing in mind the risk of negative outcomes.
I also take this approach when I plan my schedule and my future tasks and meetings. I aim to have a controlled mixture of positive productive time (1&2) along with more challenging time (3&4). This is not always possible as client meetings or H.R. issues often have a formal cadence. When this happens I try to fit the positive time either side of the more challenging events. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I avoid conflict and the less easy side of being a C.O.O. at Burrows, far from it. However, I try and manage my time so I get the highs as well as the lows. Unfortunately, when I told this story to my 12-year-old, she pointed out that on Monday she has French, followed by RE with fish for lunch. I guess I don’t have an answer for everything!
Chief Operating Officer