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Holiday Gifts for Working Stiffs

Holiday Gifts for Working Stiffs

Are you a boss? This post is intended to help you be the Santa Claus everyone who works for you is wishing and hoping, even praying that you will be this month.

What follows are my suggestions for your m.o. as the employer everyone would love to have right now. Take them and you’ll score big-time brownie points, you’ll enjoy the holidays a lot more yourself, and you’ll have the best night’s sleep you’ve had in months … at least until January, but what the heck; Share some aloha, live dangerously and let people love you.

These are my Makana Kalikimaka, the Top 5 Gifts every employer can give every employee wrapped in a big red bow (figuratively speaking):

Gift 1: Makana Ekahi

Cancel everything you can between now and the 3rd week of January. Postpone or reschedule if you must, but the big bonus points you get are for outright cancellation. Everything that is not mission-lifeline-critical should be fair game. No meetings i.e. team huddles or however you disguise the time everyone is called to talk business in the same place, no vendor appointments, no system and process audits, and absolutely no new projects initiated on anything.

Come now, you don’t really think everyone is getting all that much done right now anyway, do you?

Eliminate client meetings and bigwig entertainment. I said everything should be fair game, remember? Think about it; your invitation is probably a burden on them too. They don’t have to scheme on how to say no when you courteously, thoughtfully resist inviting them to begin with!

Gift 2: Makana Elua

How do you fill up that extra time everyone has now thanks to you?
a) Trim operating hours or hand out extra days off with pay.
b) If you can’t do that (24/7 operation and all…), and people still want to work (they need to bank it), trust them to use the time wisely to get ahead of things for when January comes in like a hurricane. If you can’t trust them to do that, well, you’ve got some hiring issues that are a totally different subject than this one at hand. See the coaching shingle I’ve hung on my own website, and call me in January.

A sidebar on this one: Don’t allow people to work overtime right now. Forbid (yes, I know it’s a strong word) salaried staff to work more than their 40 hours a week; have them set the pono (for health and balance) example. If you did the meeting, appointment etc. cancellations first, this shouldn’t be a problem; you’ll be amazed at the amount of nonsensical auto-pilot Gift 1 is going to expose for you—your staff will see it too.

Gift 3:Makana Ekolu

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Okay, take a deep breath for this one … ready?

If you normally restrict internet access on your company network, turn it on between now and Christmas.

“But then they’ll web surf all day on company time!” Maybe, but they’ll also be learning way more computer literacy than they normally have time to invest in, and that’s good for you. They won’t be stressing out on their lunch breaks trying to squeeze in the brick and mortar shopping, coming back to work grouchy the rest of the day.

After their initial web surfing they may even do some very valuable market research, networking or benchmarking for you — and anything else you’ve been silently hoping they’d figure out online at home (nope, their kids are online there.)

If you still are nervous about this, point them to my blog Talking Story; I give employees some pretty good advice. Like this one: How to talk to your manager.

Gift 4: Makana Eha

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Be the Scrooge that sets a low dollar limit on the Secret Santa deal in the office. Everyone is hoping someone will be the brave cheapie because everyone is strapped for cash right now.

You don’t want to look like a cheapie either? Believe me, if you are taking all my gift list suggestions here you won’t be. There’s also a fringe benefit in helping to stir up the sleeping creativity in people: Without the easy way out greenbacks furnish us with in currency they have to be more creative; they actually have to be more thought-full.

Gift 5: Makana Elima

If there’s a holiday party for your office you need to pay for it — for everything. No potlucks, no chipping in, and no party platters from Costco. FBC baby; Full Blown Catering (By the way, if you are in the food and beverage business, cater from somebody else and write it off to market research. Sorry to tell you, but your employees don’t want to eat your stuff at the holiday party, delicious as I’m sure it is).

If you are nervous about the alcohol, skip it altogether; the drink ticket or worse, the no-host bar deal is just too tacky. If you can’t afford to invite spouses and guests, don’t. It’s better to exclude them than charge for them.

That’s the Top 5. If you are the boss of all bosses, and you still would like to give a traditional, wrapped-in-a-box kind of gift, by all means feel free to do so. My suggestion would be the one thing you might think is tacky but no one else does: c a s h, the time-tested and revered Christmas bonus. There’s no room in their refrigerator for those turkeys you got a deal on after Thanksgiving, so donate them to your community Food Bank.

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Extra Credit: If you have free closet space you can secure and lock up tight, let everyone hide their family’s gifts from Santa at work until Christmas eve … boy do I remember stressing over that one.

And then — Extra, EXTRA Credit: You hire a delivery service with a jolly elf in a Santa suit to deliver the gifts to their homes on Christmas eve. Boy oh boy, will you be the boss from heaven!

Mele Kalikimaka, Merry Christmas!

Rosa Say, author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. Rosa is founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership.

Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: An Aloha Virtue List for December.

More by this author

Rosa Say

Rosa is an author and blogger who dedicates to helping people thrive in the work and live with purpose.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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