Chair Chat- Managing Your Chaos

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From the desk of Amanda Goyer, Director of Community Engagement, Cap Com Federal Credit Union

Tips & Tricks for Managing Your Chaos

Everyone lives their own version of what they call a chaotic life. Look around as you walk through the office, travel through the airport, visit the grocery store, drop the kids off a daycare…whatever it be, the majority of people today live busy lives overflowing with chaos. Some say by choice, others say it’s just the pace of the world today. Either way, people manage their chaos differently. I’ll share what has worked for me (and trust me, it’s still a work in progress daily, but I’m learning fast).

Thinking about this topic as we lead up to our May WBC event and after recently returning from my second maternity leave is very timely. I’ve recently redefined my definition of “chaos” as we have added another member to our family, another major priority in my world while maintaining the day to day and trying to go above and beyond.

Here are some tips and tricks that I’ve learned from great mentors and experiences:

RESET YOUR EXPECTATIONS:

When I started my career, my relationship, my life as a homeowner, my expectations were FAR beyond where they are today, and I’m ok with that. As I’ve added more into my life, I’ve let go of control of other things along the way. Things that used to be “important” to me have ultimately had to take a back seat as I’ve added other priorities to my life. It’s ok to let go of some things and maybe you let go of them just for now or maybe for good.

The first step in managing your chaos is to manage your expectations realistically. I can do a lot, but I can’t be the super boss, super co-worker, super friend, super mom and super wife all in the same day. I find on days or weeks where I’m performing well in the office, I may not be as present at home, and I don’t mean that physically, but mentally my mind may be thinking of work while at home. I try not to do this, but the reality is, it happens. It goes the other way as well. If one of my boys is sick or my husband gives me a reality check (thank you for that!) my gears shift and my heart and head get grounded at home again where I deliver my full attention and energy to my family. It’s that work-life balance thing everyone talks about or the phrase everyone “hates” to hear! Whatever you want to call it, the fact is, no one can deliver 100% simultaneously in all aspects of life, and no one should be expected to.

MANAGE YOUR TIME-DON’T LET SOMEONE ELSE:

You need to take ownership and accountability for what you schedule and what you allow to take time in your life. Say NO if you cannot be fully present for a commitment, say YES if it’s a priority and/or something you truly want to do.

Are there recurring meetings on your calendar and what is occurring during those can actually occur over emails or with a quick call? Change them!

Person-to-Person meetings are very valuable, but if you already have a great relationship with the individual, can that same thing you were going to book an hour meeting for (and an additional 30-minute travel buffer before and after) be accomplished in a 15-30 minute conference call?

Do you have a corporate culture that supports a “No Meeting Monday” or “Flex Friday” schedule? If not, can you pave the way? For example, I started to block out Friday’s on my calendar as “Office Time”. Things got so hectic that people still booked over this time. Now, I book these Friday’s as “Out of Office” or “Private Appointment” and people respect that time and do not book on top of it. (Now the secret is out, but I usually am in the office on these days). Everyone needs days like this to feel productive, to feel purposeful no matter what level you are at in your career or company. Book time for yourself whether it’s to brainstorm, to execute or to just plain old catch up on email and paperwork.

DON’T LIVE BY EMAIL:

I’ve seen people constantly miss deadlines or avoid big-picture projects that will actually move the needle for their company because they are consumed by their email. Email=Chaos!

Unfortunately, we all get hundreds of emails a day, or a week depending on your role, the trick is how you manage this before the chaos takes over.

A friend of mine has an auto-reply that goes out once an email hits her inbox. It says, “Thank you for your email, I’m so appreciative you reached out and value what you have to say. I’m only checking email at 8:30am and 4:30pm and will reply to you during one of those timeframes. I’m doing this so I can be present with my clients throughout the day. If this is urgent you can contact “name, phone” in my office anytime throughout the day.” Genius!

I’m in the world of Public Relations so I may have emails that come in that are more urgent, what I do is check my email 3 times a day. Morning, lunch and an hour before departing for the day. When I say “check” I mean I scan them for urgent or important things. If it will take 1 minute, I’ll answer immediately, if it’s going to take longer, I’ll hold until that last hour of the day where I take more time to complete more in-depth responses. Otherwise, I’m fully invested in my team, community or bigger projects.

As much as people value a quick email reply, what will be more valued long term is your production and execution on projects that move the needle for your company and ultimately your career.

DO, DELEGATE OR DISSOLVE:

In your work and personal life, manage your chaos in 3 buckets:

  1. What will you do?
  2. What can be delegated to others?
  3. What can be dissolved or taken off your plate in the big scope of priorities?

People that often voice that they have too much chaos in their life, tend to be people that cannot make a decision, cannot let go of control or overcommit.

By breaking your chaos into these buckets it will enable you to continue on a forward trajectory. If you are feeling overwhelmed by your chaos, sit down for 5 minutes and list out these items. First tackle items to dissolve, that is easiest, then meet with those that you are delegating to, finally after both of those are complete you will have the headspace and motivation to move forward with what’s on your to-do list.

LOSE THE GUILT:

Last but certainly not least, DO NOT FEEL GUILTY. Chaos happens and it overflows when we overcommit because we feel guilty saying no or guilty that things that were once a priority are no longer. This is not something that comes easily, it’s something you have to work at each day. I find this especially true for women.

It’s OK to take time for you.

It’s OK to flex your schedule on a Friday afternoon if you’ve already been out at 3 morning or evening events this week.

It’s OK if you can’t reply to every single email each day.

It’s OK to leave the dishes in the sink, and leave the clothes in the dryer…for (several) days.

It’s OK to say no to birthday #2 this weekend.

It’s OK to order takeout again.

Lose the guilt, it can be paralyzing, and it’s certainly the #1 key, in my mind, to managing and being OK living a life of (beautiful) chaos!

 

 

 

 

Chair Chat: Announcing the “Friend of the WBC” Initiative

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From the desk of Amanda Goyer, Director of Community Engagement at CAP COM Federal Credit Union and Chair of the Women’s Business Council.

In honor of National Women’s History Month, the Women’s Business Council would like to share one of the innovative ways we are contributing to lift women up and empower them through our programming.

Over the past two years, the Women’s Business Council has been piloting a program that we call “Friend of the WBC.” I’m honored to share this collaborative effort and the impact that it has had on women (and men) during our pilot phase which we are proud to bring to light.

We Listened:  At the end of 2016, the WBC Steering Committee leadership hosted a strategic planning session where we focused on what we wanted to “Start” and what we wanted to “Stop.” The conversation was driven by survey responses we had obtained from our audiences throughout the year paired with analysis of what other programming, training and opportunities were currently being offered to women in our region. Finally, we identified where the gaps existed. One immediate area of improvement that our group recognized as a priority was the need to focus on diversity and inclusion, and this is an ongoing effort we continue to work toward. We knew that we had access to a pool of individuals that we were missing the mark on and could immediately fix. That is how we started brainstorming around what would become “Friend of the WBC.”

We Collaborated to Remove Barriers:  We worked to be more inclusive within our non-profit demographic. The WBC is known for our Adopted Non-Profit initiative where we partner with a non-profit organization in our region annually to help them raise awareness about their cause. Part of the benefit of being an Adopted Non-Profit partner is that you receive two complimentary tickets to each WBC program. We knew we could take this a step further, and through the power of collaboration, gain support to provide funding for more non-profit partners and their clients they serve to attend our programming, programming that is aimed at providing opportunity and education for women in business. We were halfway there, we had a plan in place to find individual “sponsors” to purchase tickets to eliminate the expense of our programming and enable 10 non-profit organizations and/or clients to attend each of our programs throughout the year as “Friends of the WBC.” We had a plan in place to provide these women access to professional business attire and to have WBC mentors greet these women and make them feel as comfortable as possible during events.

 We Conducted Research:  Initially, we were thinking of all of the ways this new initiative could benefit women in transition, women that were perhaps part of the services that some of our non-profit partners like the YWCA-GCR, Women’s Employment Resource Center (WERC), Mission Accomplished Transition Services, Schenectady City Mission, St. Paul’s Center, HATAS and beyond offer. We knew we could offer them access to networking, education and opportunity, but on the other side of the coin, we knew there would be barriers that we would have to address to make this fully accessible and comfortable.

That is when we invited Mike Saccocio, Executive Director/CEO of Schenectady City Mission in to review our thoughts. Mike addressed what we all needed to hear that morning and he flipped our thought process upside down. He said something along the lines of, “Stop thinking about how you will benefit them, and start thinking about how they will benefit you.” Our intentions were good, but I can tell you firsthand, I’m certain that the WBC has learned more from our “Friends of the WBC” than they have learned from us. These women (and men) have wisdom, perseverance, and strength beyond measure. Mike walked us through an exercise his team conducts with clients at the City Mission. They draw their “current state” and then they draw their “future state” and envision how their life can look ahead with the right support system, goals, and opportunities. That day, the WBC envisioned our future state and “The Friend of the WBC” came to life.

We Delivered:  Since 2016, we have had nearly 100 “Friends of the WBC” attend our programming. Tickets have been funded by the generosity of our WBC Steering Committee members and our networks. Women have shared with us that our programming gave them the courage to update their resume and start their job search. Other women have reported back that they are starting to take steps to move back into the workforce due to connections they made at our programming. Others have said simply, thank you for giving me this chance.

Our Mission:  The Friend of the Women’s Business Council (WBC) came from a place of wanting to reach out to, be more inclusive of and empower more women in the Capital Region. We recognize that not everyone can afford or access WBC programming- programming that is designed to inform, inspire and empower women in our community. The Friend of the WBC effort allows individuals and organizations to sponsor women motivated to move their careers to the next step, and thus remove a barrier for women who may not easily be able to access WBC programs.

We Want You! We share this with you in hopes that you too may want to partner with us to lift other women up through the Women’s Business Council! If you are interested in learning more about the program, please contact me directly! Thank you for your kind heart and support along this journey.