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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 November 18, 2020

I’m Feeling Bored: 10 Ways to Conquer Boredom (and Busyness)

I’m Feeling Bored: 10 Ways to Conquer Boredom (and Busyness)

If you’re saying “I’m feeling bored,” it’s important to realize that boredom and feeling too busy are the same problem. Some people claim I’m being too ambitious trying to strike down chronic boredom and busyness at the same time. I’d argue that the only way to take them out is simultaneously.

The problem stems from how you manage your attention. Both boredom and busyness stem from feeling there is a lack of quality in how you focus your attention.

Boredom is feeling that there are too few high-quality ways to spend attention. Busyness is forced boredom. This means that you feel there are high quality ways to spend attention, but your attention is being stolen from you before you can use it.

I’m Feeling Bored: It’s in Your Mind

Feelings of boredom and busyness are subjective. You can’t look out in the world and claim it is busy or boring. To say these feelings are subjective is obvious, but that misses a key point. The real problem is quality.

Being engaged, neither busy or bored, happens when your attention is focused on high-quality activities.

You can probably remember times when you were completely engaged. This could have been working on a project you were passionate about, spending time with your family, sky diving or vacationing under the sun. Why were you engaged in these moments and not in others?

A likely reason was because those experiences had a higher quality. They allowed you to enter into an immersive flow state, in which your entire consciousness was devoted to the activity.[1]

In the best cases your entire reality revolves around what you are doing. You’ll understand what I mean if you’ve read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (which, I must admit, inspired most of these ideas).

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Improving the Quality of Your Activities

So how do you improve quality in your experiences when you’re saying “I’m feeling bored”? I believe there are two major ways you can do it: externally and internally. If you are chronically busy (and actively disliking the busyness) or bored, then you’ll need to tackle external and internal factors that contribute to these negative feelings.

Here are some ways to consider improving quality in your experiences:

Externally

1. Plan Ahead

Schedule your life to ensure there aren’t huge gaps or work overflows later. This can mean scheduling high-quality experiences if you find yourself frequently bored. It can also mean dividing large projects if you find yourself chronically busy.

  • Plan weekend activities for next month now. This not only gives you something to look forward to, but it also forces you to stay productive instead of just busy.
  • Map out what is placing demands on your time. Can you consolidate all your “busy work” (such as responding to emails) into one block of time instead of allowing it to cause constant interruptions in your day?

2. Win-Win

If you must perform an activity you think has low quality, you’re going to feel bored. Find ways to reorganize your life so that jobs, chores, and duties can become interesting, high-quality experiences.

Turn mind-numbing chores into opportunities for growth and learning. For example, listen to an audio book or lecture on the commute to work or while you’re cleaning your house.

3. Prioritize

If you don’t manage time, you’ll never have enough of it. There are always more things to do than you have time for. Get your values straight so that the highest priorities are handled first and your life doesn’t get overtaken by the unimportant.

Set a vision for your life, and determine how everything you do either contributes or detracts from that vision. Chances are, the things that don’t align with your vision are some of the same things that bore you. After you identify low-priority activities, you can try to make them more meaningful, or you can find ways to eliminate them.

4. Put Quality of Experience First

It is easy to get caught up in external goals that don’t fulfill their promises. Focus on goals that will give you a greater quality, not just a bigger paycheck or more status to brag about.

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Set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals that align with your life’s vision.[2]

5. Escape the Motions

Habits are a part of your life, but don’t let them become the only thing. Break out of your patterns if they aren’t giving you what you need. Instead of staying in, go out and meet new people on a Friday night. Just do something to get away from doing the same old thing.

Schedule times to break from your routines. I thrive on having a routine most days, but I also give myself opportunities to break from sameness.

Say “yes” to trying something new. Nothing spices up your day like trying something new.

Internally

Most of the ways to improve your quality of experience and conquer boredom are internal. Remember, it’s not just what you do, but also how you do it.

1. Build an Inner World

I’m not suggesting you create a complete rift between yourself and reality when you find yourself thinking “I’m feeling bored,” but also realize that if you can’t find quality in your immediate surroundings, you can find it within yourself.

Solving internal problems, reviewing knowledge, coming up with new ideas, creating stories, or even planning for the future are all areas you can explore in the mind without any external stimuli.

Use “boring” moments as opportunities to brainstorm. It’s a lot easier to cope with a humdrum reality if you’re able to use the time to explore possibilities within your mind.

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If you’re really at a loss, you can imagine a story about 2-3 of the people and objects in your vicinity. This is a great way to exercise your creativity and sharpen your observation skills.

2. Seek Quality in the Now

Try starting small with some simple questions. What are you doing right now? What can you find that has value for you? Seeking quality right now allows you to find it even if your environment is bare or overloaded.

Activities like waiting in line can be turned into moments of self-reflection or times to remind yourself of your vision.

3. Don’t Resist

Busyness and boredom could also be described as symptoms of resisting what is. Fully accepting whatever situation you are in and making the most of it is one way to conquer feeling bored.

Resistance is something that can’t be done half-way. Either completely push away and seek quality elsewhere, or accept your surroundings and find it here.

4. Unchain Yourself

A lot of mental unease is caused because you feel forced to do something. You have to go to work, study for your test, do this or that. Realize that you don’t have to do anything, just accept different results. Freedom is in your mind.

Weigh whether the activity causing your discomfort is essential or expendable. For example, paying your bills is non-negotiable, but you can opt to live a more modest lifestyle or actively search for a job you enjoy.

Use a mantra to remind yourself of your freedom. “I am free” and “I have the power to change my circumstances” can reinforce the notion that you have choices.

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5. Stop

Boredom and feeling overloaded are both patterns. They are mental spirals you run on yourself that loop back on each other. If you just interrupt yourself for a few minutes and think more deeply about the problem, you can often come up with a good answer independent of these suggestions.

Meditate your way out of boredom. Sometimes boredom and busyness are caused by feeling disconnected from what you are doing. Use meditation to ground yourself in the present.

You can learn how to meditate here.

Take up a gratitude practice. Whenever you’re feeling too bored or too busy, stop to think about all the things that are going well. Being able to simply say, “I got out of bed this morning,” and “I have food to eat,” help you take stock of your blessings.

The Bottom Line

As boredom and busyness arise from the same source, the same strategies can be used to tackle them and find a sweet spot of a balanced mindset. Find high-quality activities when you start saying “I’m feeling bored,” and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can turn things around.

More Tips on Tackling Boredom

Featured photo credit: Siddharth Bhogra via unsplash.com

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