Navigating a Busy Season

Busy seasons can often seem overwhelming and exhausting. Rather than just capitulating to all the demands and competing priorities, we have options and choices for being intentional in navigating a busy season and focusing on what’s important for positive growth. Here are some practices of successful leaders who have experienced positive results and personal peak performance for themselves and their teams heading into, or in the midst of, navigating busy seasons:

Upfront planning. Setting goals to meet our commitments for big picture growth and productivity targets. Sharing the vision, aligning the team, and challenging each other to collaborate and communicate. Creating agendas that are organized and timely, with an expressed goal to reduce the number of late nights burning the midnight oil or last minute fire drills.

Build in flexibility. Even with the best laid plans, the unexpected happens. We can prepare for and anticipate late negative surprises that often arise. Untimely life events happen. People get sick. Clients delay providing critical information on a timely basis, due to their own priorities or disorganization. Daily distractions or leadership opportunities to mentor and provide guidance happen throughout the day. Some people prefer to be more organized, while others prefer to be more adaptable and flexible. Have we anticipated there are some who will be late in responding to the call? When we anticipate late negative surprises, they don’t throw us off stride. We can choose to be less reactive, lean into it and engage it. When we have planned and allowed space for late negative surprises that don’t come, we open up the possibility of a late positive surprise. We’re done early!

Identify good enough. Instead of experiencing overwhelm from staring at the lengthy and never ending “to do” list, identify three or four of the most important tasks to accomplish that will be good enough for today. You are the arbiter of what’s good enough each day, motivated by the intrinsic desire of being and doing your best, providing excellence in service and spirit.

Boundaries and rest. What is my time commitment today? How long is enough? Is it 10 hours, 12 hours, 14? Will I recognize when it’s time to stop, take a break, build strength and freshen for the next day? Successive long days and late evening pushes with intensive concentration require recovery time. Depleted energy compromises our thinking and opens us to shorter triggers and heightened anxieties, fears, and concerns. Rest is more than just a good idea. Does this rise to a value for you?

Know your tipping point. As a committed team player, I challenge myself to contribute and be willing to take on work. However, it is important to reality check and know my saturation point. If I take on another task, will the additional burden put the whole at risk? Am I courageous to raise my hand and ask for help when I hit a space beyond my subject matter expertise or endurance limits?

Acknowledge and celebrate successes. Notice people doing excellence, catch them in the act and tell them. Foster friendships. One of the best indicators of retention is building friendships in the workplace. Genuinely enjoying the company of working with friends in the midst of executing the workload.

Keep your sense of humor. Lighten up. Remember Rule #6: Don’t take yourself so seriously. Loosen up and move, find laughter, play some anthem songs that keep you energized, strong and resilient.

With focused intention and attention on the important tasks, several leaders have shared they find themselves coming up for air earlier than expected, having completed their good enough tasks for the day. When this happens there are choices. We can choose to worry, we must be missing something to find ourselves in this position! We can choose to get a jump on tomorrow and do additional tasks within our time boundary for the day. We can simply appreciate the temporary breather, rest in the moment, content and grateful.

An experienced leader who has led teams for over twenty years recently shared with me that his numbers were great, his team was working hard and efficient and he was proud of them. Fulfilled and energized, he proclaimed “This is the best busy season of my life!”


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