Dear Together Friends, Fans, and Family,
I’ve been on a quest to eradicate round Tupperware from the world BECAUSE HOW DOES IT FIT IN YOUR FRIDGE efficiently?
Just kidding. Maybe. But, I’ve always wanted to start a newsletter that way.
But, I did choose to slip that in because I’ve spent much of May thinking about margin (whether because your fridge is constantly too full or your life is too full!): both forced and created. You see, right after our family spring break road trip, I found myself in not one, but TWO Emergency Rooms AND an urgent care over a 36-hour period. (I’m fine, by the way, the cause of pain was discovered, and there is a plan.) However, this also meant I went over 36 hours on exactly no sleep. It wasn’t a First-I-Cried-Then-I-Made-Myself-a-Spreadsheet situation, but nonetheless. . . To get myself back, I needed to force some margin and conduct some Together Triage into a week where at first there appeared to be none. How did I do that?
- Asked for help from three different people. One joined me at the ER, one brought me food, and another helped with the kids. I also gave my team a heads up during this time via a quick email from the hospital.
- Looked ahead on my calendar for the week. I asked for three meetings to be delayed to the following week. Not great, but it had to be done.
- Sent out key communications, however limited. I did this for a few people asking for grace on a few deliverables, and it was granted.
Those were the reactive ways I gained some margin back in my week, but what about proactive ways you can build in margin? You know, when your day goes off the rails because a kid is sick, your manager wants a last-minute thing yesterday, or there is a tricky incident in your office or at school. I do not pretend these things are not going to happen. In fact, I EXPECT them to happen. There is no such thing as a perfect week. So much so, that a few things can happen structurally:
- Have a backup plan. You can bet I ask myself each night that if one of my kids contracted COVID tomorrow, what would I do? You likely do this too, with what will I do about staff coverage? If this person had to be out for a week? If I am sick for an entire week?
- Hold some buffer times. Maybe you need more wiggle at the back end of the week for spillover? Or time at the end of the day for people who need you? Maybe a bit of actual blocked out time for unplanned meetings? I always keep buffer between classes for questions or edits.
- Know your most important work. I often call this Together Triage. I will ask myself, if I had to force my workday into 4 hours, what would get protected? Color code it, communicate, tell your people. Our Together Team enters our top weekly priorities in a shared Google doc, and it is a great double check.
So, what about you? Are there ways you can proactively create margin and reactively force margin?
Over here in The Together-verse, we are busy with pivoting back to in-person classes (see you in June, New Orleans and Houston!), hitting my word count goals for The Together Teammate (finally FINALLY titled third big book coming to shelves near you in spring 2023), launching a new website (long overdue), a little bit of celebration for Dr. Together and me this fall (Together Wedding, anyone?), and a lot of planning for our four-kid-four-cat blended family. I feel a spreadsheet–or four– coming on!
PS My dear author bestie Elena has a new book out! Run, don’t walk!
Together Treasure Box (From the Blog!)
- Do you need a Blackout Day in your life? Read more about this practice of carving out time to do a deep dive into projects…by eliminating all internal communications for a day!
- Our latest project management crush The lovely folks at Rodel in Delaware were kind enough to show us around their project management tool of choice. We’re smitten!
- It’s that time of year again…Check out our tangible tools and strategies to help with all those end-of-the-school-year Together Transitions you’re working through!
Top Together Tributes
- Together Television: Believe it or not, I haven’t watched this yet. Am I missing out? And love the partnership with Scholastic.
- 54 Hours Per Week Explained: Teachers, does this land with you? How are you racking up your hours? And a reminder – if you want to figure out YOUR hours – join us for a Together Teacher Evening Edition class!
- Together Texting: This explains everything about my children texting me all day long. Including an 18-kid list of birthday RSVPs via TEXT.