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Train of Thought...
June 2003 - Time Out!

Now that the dust has settled and the excitement of Adelaide becomes a memory, life returns to normal. No doubt most, if not all, of us are again chasing our tails as we respond to the calls of others, whether they be team members, patients or managers.

Since Adelaide, I seem to have moved from one deadline to another whether it be a teaching session, a business case or the preparation of the next web-site issue. The spark is most definitely having trouble sustaining itself and there is no danger of a conflagration arising from it. I am feeling decidedly flat at the moment.

Last week we had a WA branch meeting that provided a breath of fresh air and revived my drooping spirits. Meeting together, even at the end of a long day, was just the tonic I needed. I am not a social animal (any rumours to the contrary are the result of mistaken identity!) but sharing our knowledge, our experience and camaraderie was just the tonic I needed. It is difficult to put one's finger on why these meetings are so valuable. Was it the food, kindly provided by Kirstin from Pfizer? Was it the socialising? Was it the topic under discussion? These are all contributors but I suspect the key factor is the sharing between friends.

What can we do to maintain the spark and prevent the loss of enthusiasm, of passion for what we do? Should the question perhaps be phrased: "What puts the enthusiasm in jeopardy?" I suspect that all too easily we become overwhelmed by the demands on our time. As the sense of losing control over our time develops we become frustrated and can very quickly lose the vision. This kills both initiative and drive. The spark is quickly snuffed out.

I would like to offer three strategies to combat this situation.

  1. Bite sized chunks. Just about any task / project is able to be broken into bite sized chunks. Focus not on the big picture but on a single chunk that can be finished quickly. As you complete each chunk tick it off on the project plan. Next time you look at your plan, (you do have plans?) you will see tasks ticked off as completed rather than seeing a big project without evidence of progress. You become an achiever.
  2. Meet with your peers. When feeling overwhelmed it is important to talk to your peers, your colleagues. The more overwhelmed you feel, the less likely you will be to see the solution. Picking up the phone or sharing a coffee break with a colleague to "chew the fat" will likely provide some new impetus. Perhaps you can delegate something, perhaps they have dealt with a similar issue. You will no longer feel alone and may even find a different solution.
  3. Make yourself a priority. Do what has to be done to free an hour or two of your time. This will allow you to sequester yourself away from the competing demands on your attention. Shut your office door and take the phone off the hook. Even if this only allows you to formulate a battle plan this time, you will have made major progress. Remember there is a world of difference between being busy and being productive.

These are tricks I use and they have served me well in the past. The two key things are to assign yourself priority and to develop self discipline. You always have the choice of succumbing or climbing out of the hole. Next time an appointment doesn't show, grab a coffee with one of your team rather than assigning substitute work. Treat the time as a bonus. You will be surprised at the benefits that accrue.


As I pen these thoughts my bridges back to NZ are burning. Our house has finally sold and by the time you read this my wife, Lata, will be in Perth. After nearly 9 months apart it still seems a little unreal that the transition is complete. It is a nice feeling to be out of the limbo we have both been in for so long. This doesn't mean I am an Australian yet - mind you something strange is happening as I seem to be contracting something that has me developing an increasingly keen interest in the outcome of my selections in the weekly footy tipping. That reminds me, I must organise my tips for while I am away - something about Eagles thrashing Lions? Bit of a worry really!

'til next month,

Kevin

June, 2003

kevin.gain@health.wa.gov.au

 

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