Stung by the Busy Bee – Managing Priorities

Busy Bee

Our lives are a world of chaos with family, work and everything else in between.  Being busy does not always mean you are accomplishing or progressing to complete a goal.  Maybe you feel like you are sacrificing your priorities and goals for others.  While is certainly normal for expectations and plans to be disrupted, having a plan instead of simply reacting to things will help you regain your focus.

By tossing all your priorities and tasks up into the air, you are imposing stress on yourself.  By juggling the stress each day, you hope to finally make progress.  Unfortunately, hoping without a having a plan will keep you going in circles.

Here are two easy ways that together will help you to avoid “squirrel syndrome” and to work toward the possibility of accomplishing your goals and priorities:

Give all of your priorities a deadline date.  Sure, this date can be adjusted, but only when it is absolutely necessary.  A date scheduled next to a priority keeps it in front of other tasks that are not currently a priority.

Schedule time to complete your daily priorities.  When is your day less hectic?  Can you find time and a place where you can focus and make progress toward your goals?  To keep from feeling overwhelmed, schedule in small increments of time, such as for 30 minutes at a time.  Remove the distractions long enough to make a fully focused effort toward progress or completion of your goal.

If you keep moving or putting off a priority, you should reassess that priority.  How important is it?  Do you want to achieve the priority, or are you just avoiding it?

The reality of Life has us going in many directions.  We are making thousands of decisions each day.  Some are automatic and routine, while other decisions can be impulsive or need time to ruminate.

If, at the end of the day, your goals and priorities were, once again, put off and not accomplished, I recommend that you create a plan; one you will promise yourself to keep.  I promise that getting into the habit of scheduling and achieving your plan will help you make progress toward your goals, and you can avoid being stung by the busy bee.

Need Directions

need directionDear Coach Chris,

I feel lost and stressed.  I am 21 and know I should be doing something with my life.  I graduated from high school with no plan because I was working at a restaurant and had money to spend. The restaurant was my first job and I worked there four years, it was fun and I learned a lot about the restaurant business.  I conveniently live with my parents.  I don’t have to pay for anything and I have saved most of my money.  Now the restaurant has closed and I am looking for another job.  I am depressed and don’t feel motivated.   All my friends from high school have joined the military, are married, moved out of town or going to college.  I basically have no friends to hang out with.  My parents have suggested many things but I just don’t know what to do.  When I worked at the restaurant life seemed easy and comfortable. I feel like I don’t know how to do anything else.  I don’t think I want to work in a restaurant again.   Now I have had a lot of time to really look at my life and it is time for me to grow-up. I want my own place and possibly a relationship, maybe even get married.  I want to make my parents proud of me but when I try to think of a plan I also create self-doubt.  I am afraid I will fail and I wouldn’t be smart enough anyway.  I feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start.  Can you help me?  I need some direction.

Lost and stressed,


Dear Directionless,

To start, you have your life ahead of you - a life with many options and choices.  It is awesome you are thinking about your future.

Even though you may not realize it, in the four years you worked at the restaurant you acquired many transferable skills.  First and foremost, you proved to be a reliable, responsible employee. It also appears you are responsible with your money because you chose to save even though you are living at home.  I recommend you review all of your responsibilities at the restaurant.  You might find your achievements will challenge your self-doubt and fear.  You have an opportunity now to research and apply for different types of jobs.

  1. What part of the job did you enjoy doing? What didn’t you like about the job?
  2. Make a two year plan.  What would you like to accomplish in the next two years? Freely brainstorm all of your thoughts.
  3. Look at the list and categorize or prioritize them by your current interests.
  4. Pick one and list what it would take to achieve that goal. None of this is in stone and can always be changed.  It will give you a visual place to see all your goals and interests.
  5. Take a course. Attend a workshop. Apply for that job. If it seems possible to achieve the goal in a time frame you set, take the first step.
  6. Join clubs and “meet up” groups who have similar goals and interests.

The point is just to start moving forward.  Your journey through life will expose many opportunities.   You are currently at a point in your life where you have an abundance of choices.  No final decisions are required.  So, start knocking on all the doors of opportunity.

Always look forward,

Coach Chris

Afraid of Success

cold feetDear Coach Chris,

I am a skilled craftsman.  I have built, remodeled, renovated houses and businesses for 16 years.  I want to start a legitimate, successful business where I have binding contracts, a dedicated, skilled crew and I want the role of project manager/owner, not the primary laborer.

I am a hands-on manager and end up doing a lot of the labor even when I have a small crew to help me.  I am always afraid the project won’t be completed to my standards and want to control the results.  Most of my projects are done through a “gentleman’s” agreement.  I have to admit the financial agreement sometimes becomes a problem but overall I have a manageable income. Through the years I have established a good reputation for my work.

I don’t have a BIG picture plan for my current business.  I basically try to estimate the projects and most of the time I do profit but there have been times I complete a project at a loss because of some poor estimates and unforeseen issues.  It has been a struggle attracting and keeping quality craftsman because I cannot promise future projects.  It is difficult to estimate future projects and also be on the job site.

I fear if I change anything my current success will end.  I fear I will not find a dedicated, qualified skilled crew.  I fear there is so much to learn about the taxes, insurance, employee benefits, and all of what goes into owning a legitimate, successful business.  The thoughts overwhelm me and keep me stuck.  I begin each year with a plan but never pursue the next steps.  How do I move past my fears?

Cold Feet,


Dear Cold Feet Craftsman,

Congratulations for the current success of your “by the seat of your pants” business and I do agree it may not be sustainable long term.  Through 16 years I know you have learned, overcome and experienced many business situations and issues.  You can now utilize these skills along with your craftsman skills to add to your “legitimate” business.

Owning a successful, “legitimate” business has its challenges but there are many resources you can tap into to learn how to legitimize your business.

  1. Talk to other similar business owners.  They can sometimes share the lessons learned and possibly refer other resources.
  2. Make the time to sign up for business workshops.  Most of the workshops will provide information on how to market your business, the types of insurance your business should carry, interviewing and hiring advice, tax information, how to manage and track your project money.
  3. Consider hiring a bookkeeper or administrative assistant if this is not your strong point.

There are many facets to a business. The first and probably the most difficult is establishing yourself as a reliable, quality, skilled craftsman. Guess what?  You have already successfully achieved your reputation.  Your successful past experiences have given you a solid foundation for the next business level.

It is easy for me to say don’t let fear get in your way but consider this; Fear is usually based on stories we are telling ourselves and the more we become comfortable with our stories the harder it becomes to believe anything else.  We can falsely rationalize and bend the facts to fit our fear so we can validate what we believe.  So, revisit the story you are telling yourself and get down to business. You can design and build a house, you can design and build a successful business with the same attention to detail.

Happy Building,

Coach Chris

Hang on to your desk

managerDear Coach Chris,

I was recently promoted to supervisor, a position I worked hard to achieve.  The problem is now I am responsible for my "used to be" co-workers.  A couple of them are very good friends.  We would party every weekend, gossip about the people in the office and share just about everything.  I consider them great office buddies.

During the job offer conversation, my boss mentioned she was aware of the close friendships I had with my co-workers.  She said my role as a co-worker to supervisor can create problems.  I was now their boss and I needed to always be aware of how I am interacting with everyone.  The first sign of favoritism towards my friends would be the beginning of a breakdown of my authority as their supervisor.

I am now confused on what to do.  One of my goals was to be the supervisor.  I am aware of the increase of responsibilities and I am prepared and ready to take on the job.  At the same time, I know my role as "weekend friend" has to change.  My boss included examples: only going to lunch every day with only the select few would create perceived favoritism - something my friends and I always did; internal company conversations needed to be kept between leadership and supervisors; the possibility of having to discipline one of my friends.  The list of what not to do has me questioning so many things.

I don’t want to lose my friends and at the same time I worked for this promotion and don’t want to lose this opportunity.  Can I have both without jeopardizing friends and job?



Dear Sad Supervisor,

Congratulations on your promotion to supervisor.  I agree it is a challenge to draw the line between people who were your co-worker friends to now your staff.  Unfortunately, your new role will impact your relationships.  Included with the increased role as supervisor you are now responsible and liable for the performance outcomes of your staff.  This can sometimes get sticky if one of your “friends” needs to be counseled.  Your staff is always aware of what you say and how you handle every situation.  It is important you maintain your authority because your staff now represents you.

I recommend you have a heart-to-heart conversation with your weekend buddies.  Explain to them your concerns.  Collectively there may be an understanding and possible solution. They need to be aware of your new role and responsibilities. You will be required to make decisions they may not always agree with. I hope your boss will continue to mentor you through some of the trials and tribulations of being a new supervisor.

You obviously have what it takes to fulfill the role as supervisor.  It is a critical role in any organization, and you earned your place.  There will be times you are pulling your hair out and times you will be sharing accomplishments.  So, hang on to your desk because the ride as supervisor is challenging and rewarding.

Continued Success,

Coach Chris