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Christmas Countdown

With Christmas just around the corner, we should hope that you’re well and truly prepared, bought, wrapped, delivered, decorated and eagerly waiting for the most magical day of the year…

Ahem.

Of course, we know this is probably not the case – unless you were blessed with superhuman levels of organisation. Juggling the husband, the kids, the Nativity play, the dog, the shopping, the wrapping, the prized turkey, the outfit, extended festive pampering sessions, work’s Christmas do, Santa’s grotto visits and having to deal with the added pressure of organising and executing the perfect Christmas dinner is never going to be an easy task.

Without the right planning, even a day filled with delicious food, tantalising tipples, thoughtful gifts, barrels of laughs and a house full of all your favourite people can be a total nightmare if you’re overloaded, overworked and overdrawn! So, avoid an end-of-year meltdown by tackling your yuletide demons head on and well in advance. Simplify the festive period by focusing on preparations, one mince pie at a time.

But, if all this talk of the Big Day leaves you desperate to get on the next plane to BahHumbugsville, just relax. Pour yourself a cheeky glass (or three) of mulled wine and think. Easy.

Once calm and collected, the next step is to make a list – the saviour of all things unorganised. Having a list allows you to prioritise, put everything into perspective and delegate jobs, so free yourself of all unrealistic goals and expectations and begin to lay your festive foundations as a family unit.

Your first Christmas conundrum is to decide on a budget and stick to it. If you’re disciplined with your dosh, you’ll immediately eradicate all suggestions of the January blues (hello happiness!). The rest falls into four manageable categories of: gifts, food, home and celebrations. As long as you approach each with thought, love and commitment, you can’t go wrong and the beautiful visual reminders of your festive successes will keep you right on track! (The glorious sense of achievement when you first turn on your outside Christmas lights is indescribable and we know you feel it too!)

Nevertheless, the most important thing to keep in mind on this wonderful journey is your sanity: make sure there’s method in your list-making madness. If you’re not acquainted with your mother’s great aunt’s brother-in-law’s sister’s cousin twice removed, should you kill yourself in locating them geographically to bestow upon them gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh? Maybe not.

So, eliminate the stress from Christmas this year with a good ol’ list and sprinkle a bit of pleasure into your preparations.

After all,

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Punctuality is KING

I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date. No time to say hello, goodbye – I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!

Nobody likes tardiness. It messes up the plan.

The overriding reason that you’ve already spent time constructing and adhering to a plan is to prepare yourself for the task in hand through enforcing deadlines. Thus, minimising the effect of negative consequences and unwanted stresses on your mental disposition.

So what seems to be your current emotional state? Anxious? Stressed?

Why? Because you missed a deadline?

Oh.

There we have it. Being late just throws an unnecessary spanner in the works. Think about it. Romeo tragically killed himself because he was late. Had he shown up at Juliet’s counterfeit death bed a few moments earlier, he would have been made aware of the plan and both will have lived happily ever after, Amen. Of course, this was not the case and the plan was foiled. Undeniably very sad, but as history has taught us – humans like to mess things up.
So before lateness ruins your future, think hard about its consequences.

A project has a start and end date for a reason: lateness is disruptive. But if a deadline is lurking in the shadows and you know you’re not going to make it, document it as soon as possible and immediately communicate with the team. Acknowledging the missed deadline will be the best decision you’ve ever made (and you’ll feel a whole lot better for it, believe us). Soon, you’ll be able to give Clark Kent a run for his money and save the world, one project at a time, by responding to risks at lightning speed.

Still, measuring time is an art, so allow yourself room for manoeuvre. If you have concerns that something needs more time, then give it more time – it really is that simple. Most importantly, be realistic in what can be achieved. We all like to demonstrate how talented and efficient we are but the key to success in life is not trying to run before you can walk. Baby steps.

Sometimes, however, life is just unavoidable, and this is why we consider the all the potential risks before leaping into the unknown. Preparation is a truly wonderful thing, so be aware of every outcome, however improbable the situation may be. Grow eyes in the back of your head. Develop a sixth sense. Hypothetically convolute the most simplest of tasks in your mind and your path will be a very punctual one.

Punctuality will introduce to you a brand new way of living! For business, time is money but for the average Joe, time is sanity. Nevertheless, everybody wants to achieve optimal productivity and tardiness is the vulture waiting to swoop in on the rotting carcass that could be your project. So, keep the time vultures at bay by being the hunter, never the hunted, and your project performance will be incontestable.

Tidy Space, Tidy Mind

So, you’ve welcomed in Monday with lovingly open arms. You feel energized and fresh, ready to take on the world and all its challenges. You’re raring to go. Full steam ahead. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Like a dog on heat. Bouncing off the walls. Moving on up. Nothing can stop you…

But wait! Hold those horses tight by their reins.

Before you dive head first into what will soon become a chaotic balancing act of work, kids, household chores, holidays, friends and creative projects – take a second. Your first step is to cleanse yourself of the clutter that 2014 left behind and organise your future. This will be imperative to your success.

Our sources tell us that you haven’t been able to see your desk through the piles of paperwork since God-knows-when. Tut-tut. Your workspace should be a shrine to your amazing achievements. It should be where the magic happens. Except, the magic is currently being suffocated by mess. You are murdering your unborn thoughts, blocking them from existence. You must be stopped. So, pick up that feather duster and focus – those cobwebs aren’t going to clean themselves. Trust us, you’ll soon see everything fall into place. Just call us your Fairy Godmother.

Keeping within a structured routine and an unpolluted space will take you from disordered to diligent in no time at all. No clutter, no distractions, 100% productivity. An organised life is much more easy to navigate as you’re the one in control, always driving forward. As well as optimal productivity, taking pride in your environment will positively affect many other aspects of your life too – your happiness, your mental disposition, your relationships… It’s a win-win situation.

Okay, it doesn’t take a genius to throw out a few things and do a bit of tidying, but the fact is, you initiated the change. You physically see the difference in front of you. You are the reason for your own successes. It may appear to be a minor accomplishment, but this is the first step in achieving greatness in 2015.

The world is your oyster so work your magic.

Risky Business

Every day, we take risks.

We eagerly cross roads without waiting for the green man’s assistance. Not ideal. We happily eat food without certified guarantee that it is not going to be to our detriment. Not encouraging. We obliviously sit at our desks tap-tapping away at our laptops, without a care in the world that our cup of tea is precariously overlooking the keys, just calling out to be knocked over. Never reassuring. We perform numerous daily duties much like these – from the mundane to the monumental – each with their own imminent dangers, and we don’t even bat an eyelid.

Although deep in our subconscious we are somewhat aware of their unpredictability, these risks simply do not overexert themselves as life threatening, so we refrain from handling them as such. When we consider risk, images of skydiving, dragon slaying, Vikings and sword swallowing come to mind – where one false move can mean death of the most dramatic kind. The dangers are obvious. But risk doesn’t need to involve danger; it need only involve uncertainty.
Picture the familiar scene. Boy loves Girl but Boy doesn’t want to admit this to Girl incase Girl says she doesn’t love Boy back. Boy is uncertain that his feelings will be reciprocated and therefore, declaring his undying love for Girl without the guarantee that Girl loves Boy back is a risk. A risk that will cost Boy his heart.

So how can Boy prevent this? Effective risk management.

Identifying risks early on in any project can save you a lot of time, effort and money. Managing and mitigating potential difficulties is necessary for survival and through effective preemptive action, the impact of project threats can be minimised and future risks can be avoided.

Generally, people just aren’t very good at managing risks and issues. We are not machines and at times, we may be ignorant, lazy, over-confident or simply forgetful, which is why we need to take time in our busy schedules to plan and implement risk responses. Significantly reducing the probability of these threats is the first step to precautionary perfection. When we value something, whatever its relevance, to lose it is a huge risk. So, without some form of insurance, we feel vulnerable and life becomes a very hostile environment.

In today’s society, risks are no longer isolated by industry or location, so it’s important to think outside the box. Not all risks are the same, which consequently suggests that treatment for each should be different. Some risks have a higher impact than others, so prioritising is paramount. Don’t focus on flitting away the little fish nipping at your toes when you’ve got enormous Great Whites to wrestle. Grab potential risks by the horns and throw them into oblivion. Investigate and analyse the nature of each threat and you will soon be blessed with invaluable insights.

Now is the time to breathe confidence into your risk management abilities and look positively to the future of project success.

See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil.

2015. The year of communication.

From the Latin meaning to share, communication indicates that everybody has a role to play in successfully conveying messages. And our ancestors were right. Introducing… the Talker, the Listener, the Problem Solver, the Reasoner and the Critiser. Communication is not a one-way street. Rather, it’s a piazza where ideas and information can be gathered and shared among the many.

In today’s world, we’re always communicating. We’re always connected, always hanging out in our virtual piazzas. We post, we share, we like, we comment, we WhatsApp, we tweet, we blog, we vlog – the list goes on. Regardless of whether you choose email, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, YouTube or the good ol’ fashioned letter – your message is still accessible to the millions. Yet we still struggle to always fulfill our communicative duties. We assume that we’re all on the same page but this is not often the case.

Clear and effective communication is the glue that holds everything in place, keeping the world spinning nicely. It doesn’t only convey facts; it allows people to understand the role that they are playing within a particular environment and engages them. We’re not born with the same brain; we don’t think the same thoughts, so the way that we process and manage information is different.

In the grand scale of Life, it’s good to be different but communicatively, differences cause problems. In order to ensure that all messages have been received and understood, communication channels need to be running smooth and there are a number of ways to facilitate this.

Firstly, listen to others – pay attention, they may have something profound to say. Never assume; always clarify the best way to move forward. Identify roles and own your own actions to eliminate future discrepancies. Do not be disrespectful. Would you speak to your Mother like that? Of course not. Life can get very stressful for everybody, so take a moment. Think. Process. Respond. Ignoring somebody is never an option. It’s not nice to leave them in limbo; it will only make matters worse. Rather than argue, have a discussion. Open up that can of worms. Allow whoever you’re communicating with to express their opinion. Two heads are better than one so the potential is incomprehensible!
Abide by these simple guidelines and you will gain status as Highly Effective Communicator, leaving communicative malfunctions in the abyss. Remember, there is always a reason behind an interaction, so do your best to understand what the ultimate goal is and contribute accordingly. Communication is a skill that is never perfect; there are always ways to improve so nurture it, and you will one day rule the world.

Communication is strength.