Phones are ringing, a client is waiting to be checked in, a courier is anxious to get a signature on a delivery and you are on the phone to the guest in room 1710 who is complaining that the room is too small. Oh yes, the courier is starting to get irritated because he has a deadline and the person on the phone is being angry and abusive…
Now, of course is the time to take out from beneath the desk your pump action shotgun and start blasting away, or perhaps you should start foaming at the mouth and biting people or even simply burst into tears in the futile hope that someone somewhere actually gives a damn…
Well however tempting any of the above responses may be (and speaking personally the foaming mouth and biting people has always appealed) there are other and better options. Better because they will enable you to relax and de-stress and better because they will show that you can do your job efficiently.
First take a deep breath and remind yourself that NONE of this is really important, in the great scheme of things these are minor puzzles that you will resolve. Next take a second to mentally prioritize the tasks… In this example, perhaps it’s guest, courier, client, phone. The exact order will depend on you and your organisations rules however the order is actually not that important. What is important, is to have them in an order.
Now deal with them one at a time giving each task 99% of your attention until it is complete. The spare 1% is to allow you to monitor for things that would ABSOLUTELY mean that you need to re-prioritize your tasks.
OK, you are probably thinking “It’s fine to say that but I ALWAYS get the situation where several things are equally critical. How can I possibly prioritize them? No matter what I do, people are going to be unhappy with me”. You know what, you are right. Sometimes multiple things are equally critical, so what, just start on whichever one takes your fancy or put them in alphabetical order it really doesn’t matter. You see you have to realise that you are limited to doing the possible. You cannot do the impossible, (that’s why it’s called impossible) and the sooner you acknowledge that just like everyone else in the world you have limits the sooner you can relax and get on with things. As to people being unhappy with you, tough luck and welcome to the world. Sometimes even if you do everything absolutely perfectly, people will be unhappy with you. You simply must not live your life trying vainly to please everybody, it won’t work and you will make yourself most unhappy!!! Just try and do your best for one person at a time, that’s one of the true secrets to lifelong success.
About the author
Robert Agar-Hutton is the managing director of Protectics Limited and specialises in the management of stress and aggression.