There are times in every business when the ol’ backlog gets a little, um, thin. Many business people at this juncture do one of two things: (a) panic or (b) slow down.
Both responses are perfectly natural. Panic is simply our fight or flight response at work. Our ancestors would panic when they saw a lion and would decide in an instant to fight the lion or to run away from the lion. Regardless of the decision, the panic was over quickly: one either killed the lion, escaped from the lion, or got eaten by the lion.
Happily, modern threats are not as potentially deadly. Sadly, modern threats do not come to an end as quickly, as any physician who treats patients for anxiety, depression, insomnia, hypertension, ulcers and addiction will attest.
Slowing down is the answer for most of us, which is a form of denial. This is Parkinson’s Law in action (if one can honestly call it action), “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Not terribly productive.
My boss at Robert A. Stanger & Company, Kevin Gannon, used to say, “Finish every project as fast as you can. Your client will be delighted, and you set yourself up to take on the next project quickly. If the next project isn’t ready, what’s the worst that could happen? You take a few days off.”
This attitude has served Kevin well. He is never without work, and he works harder than anyone I have ever met. He is tops in his field and has also done extremely well for the company and for himself over the years.
Think about it this way: does a farmer panic because there are no crops growing in February? Of course not, it is how things are supposed to be.
What does the farmer do instead? Knowing that spring is on its way, he gets ready for the work to come. He changes the oil in the tractor, sharpens the blades on the combine, gives the barn a coat of paint. Maybe he has a little fun and takes the snowmobile out for a spin.
The farmer is sure that spring is on its way because it is the natural course of events. For us non-farmers, figurative Februarys happen all the time. But spring is always on its way. We just have to be patient and understand that things are the way they are supposed to be.
And there is plenty we can do to get ready for busy season to come.
– Bob Gagliano
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