In This Edition:
1. Avoid the Holiday Rush — Shop All Year Long
2. Dealing With the Aftermath versus Managing the Beforehand
3. Is Arranging the Beforehand More Work?
4. Historical Humor?
‘Tis the season to be…. jolly, or stressed out? I’ve never understood why people put themselves under such hectic conditions, all to celebrate and give gifts for a known event. I mean, come on, do the dates of the holidays change from year to year? Is it sane or even reasonable to attempt to buy gifts in the 20 to 25 days when everyone else is?
Avoid the Holiday Rush — Shop All Year Long
I have a wonderful time every December. I have already purchased and wrapped all of my gifts, and they’re hidden in a closet. I don’t wait until Thanksgiving or any other traditional time of the holiday season to begin my shopping. I buy gifts throughout the year. When I see something for someone on my gift list, I buy it then and there, knowing that it will be much more work to return to that store or vendor later.
Shopping throughout the year provides other benefits. I’m able to take advantage of bargains when they arise. Also, shopping a little here and there makes it far less of a burden; shopping in this manner is often fun. There are virtually no crowds, and I don’t feel like I’m under any pressure. I can make purchases as my budget allows. I can wrap the gifts intermittently, never being overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. This type of shopping strategy is part of a process I call “managing the beforehand.” It’s the opposite of dealing with the aftermath of an event, which is what most people do.
When we manage the aftermath in our work lives, our file cabinets are overflowing, and our desks are piled high. When we manage the beforehand, we clear away space in advance because we know that more information is coming.
You can apply managing the beforehand to work, shopping, and nearly every aspect of life. The chart below shows a handful of the various situations in which you can put managing the beforehand to work for you. By doing so, you’ll have a greater sense of time and space, less hassle, more energy, and more preparation to meet unexpected challenges.
Dealing With the Aftermath versus Managing the Beforehand
Not knowing where to put things and hence creating ad hoc piles, versus creating space in advance of the arrival of new information versus items in your life.
Returning home from a meeting lugging mounds of new information, versus returning home from a meeting with a thin, highly potent file of key ideas.
Continually battling to maintain positive cash flow, versus maintaining a 12 month cash flow analysis and pinpointing cash needs in advance.
Leaving for work in the morning in a mad rush, forgetting things and feeling stressed to start the day, versus leaving with grace and ease because you have already assembled everything by the door versus in your car the night before.
Heading into the city without the change needed for parking meters, versus having at least a roll of quarters and a roll of dimes safely and subtly stashed in your car.
Figuring out how you’re going to pay for your child’s higher education when you have no savings and he versus she is now in high school, versus initiating a fund and adding to it so it will grow enough to pay for college, and even graduate school, 15 years in advance of your child’s graduation.
Trying to quickly handle the follow-up correspondence to a meeting, versus handling the follow-up with a fax, modem, pocket dictator, versus stationery.
Grimly being told by your doctor that it’s time to get serious about starting a diet and exercise plan, versus staying fit and trim, having short doctor visits, and being asked how you stay so healthy.
Panicking when a key employee calls in sick one morning and no one else is prepared to handle the job, versus having already cross-trained your staff so they can ably fill in on short notice versus having good relations with many temps.
Filing your income taxes just before the deadline versus late every year, and not undertaking any tax planning versus claiming all allowable deductions, versus filing your income taxes well before the deadline because you establish a tax log at the start of each year.
Having a pile of magazines and other publications stack up because you can’t keep up with them, let alone identify relevant articles versus information, versus having no piles because you’ve dropped most subscriptions, and you quickly strip those you receive to get the few relevant pages before recycling them.
Visiting the dentist when you’re in great pain versus have an urgent need, versus visiting the dentist frequently for regular checkups.
Buying expensive birthday and holiday gifts at the last minute, versus obtaining gifts well in advance of known dates using bulk and off-peak buying.
Is Arranging the Beforehand More Work?
Some people protest that managing the beforehand seems to be more work than handling tasks as they become important. Actually, the opposite is true. Because I’m always in a “buy” mode, when I see a reasonably priced item that will be of great value to my intended recipient, the feeling is rather joyful.
Contrast this technique with that of waiting until one month or less before the time by which gifts need to be acquired and you have the recipe for being unhappy. You’ll find yourself jostling through crowds, making quick, stressful decisions and paying top dollar. Then, you have to cart the stuff home and handle all the wrapping.
Luckily, there is another way to proceed besides doing things at the last minute!
A young man was sitting in class when the professor asked him if he knew what the Roe vs. Wade decision was. He sat quietly, pondering this very profound question. Finally, after giving it a lot of thought, he sighed and said, “I think this was the decision George Washington made prior to crossing the Delaware.”