One of the recurring themes running through the blog this year has been the line from Rudyard Kipling’s If:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds’ worth of distance run
I’ve always tried to do that. And I’ve quoted my very first sales manager a few times as well: Just do a full day’s work every day, Ed, and you’ll be ahead of 95% of the people out there.
So you might think that Fridays occasionally drive me to distraction, as people don’t bother replying to e-mails and don’t return phone calls: as the slide to knocking off early starts around lunchtime and rapidly accelerates through the afternoon.
Yes, they do.
You might further assume that if Fridays drive me to distraction, December must have me reaching for the tranquilisers; after all, I sent someone a perfectly reasonable e-mail on December 2nd:
Thanks for getting in touch. Yes, could well be interested, but snowed under this week. Can I get back to you after Tuesday of next week?
His answer came back on December 3rd.
Hey, no problem! Let’s catch up in the New Year. I’ve put a date in my diary for the week commencing the 5th.
Delaying something until New Year on December 3rd? When there are still fourteen working days to go? That can’t be the way to do business. Fourteen working days is around 7% of the year. No wonder there’s a budget deficit – and cue irate letters to the editor all round.
Actually, no. I was fine with that. December is not a normal month – your priorities in December have to be different.
Today is December 12th – and one of my Board members is having her fourth Christmas lunch of the week (photo of her 3rd – TAB board lunch with me – here). Followed by her office party this evening.
Whoever you’re involved with – your own business, trade associations, local organisations, charities – they’re all going to invite you to eat turkey. You probably can’t say ‘no’ and you definitely can’t go back to your office and be 100% efficient afterwards.
So you need to judge December differently. As I’ve said many times, no-one ever does 100% of what they want to get done – so if you only get 80% done, you need to make sure it’s the right 80%. And in December ‘the right 80%’ consists of reflection, having some fun, saying ‘thank you’ and making sure you’re fresh and ready to go on January 2nd or 5th – or whenever you come back from skiing. These are far more important priorities at this time of year than chasing every possible appointment.
When you get a moment between the dinners and lunches, take stock and ask yourself a few questions. I like these four:
- What have we done right this year?
- What have we done wrong or badly?
- What have we realised we can do that we didn’t think we could do?
- And what new markets have we stumbled across?
December is also a time to say ‘thank you’ and to reflect on the year’s highlights – and I’ll be back next week to do exactly that. In the meantime, have a great weekend.