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4 Essential Skills for Stress-Free Planning

Updated on March 20, 2011
  • Faulty delegation (either too much or too little) spreads stress faster than an outbreak of flu in an office. If you are in charge, it is your job to know how much you are going to do yourself and how much is going to be delegated while the goal is being achieved. Once delegated, how much supervision, if any, are you going to give to the people to whom tasks have been delegated? What is their responsibility; what's yours? One responsibility is inevitably yours: you must ensure that the programm is on time and is running smoothly.

  • Keep a diary. A good measure of stress is to go through a diary for the last few weeks, working out how often appointments have had to be moved, cancelled or cut short because the diary has become over-filled. Make certain your diary commitments are attainable. One of the greatest business tycoons of the century told me, and showed me the proof that confirmed this, that he never did more than four hours work in a day. Another successful company chief executive asked me to spend a day with him. I was astounded. He went into the office before anyone else and nosed around for an hour and a half. Later he met with all his departmental heads to get a feel of how their departments were performing, gave his opinions and orders and then left for the day. He reappeared in the late afternoon to see how well his commands had been carried out, and where adjustments would be needed. He and his secretary dealt with his own correspondence, he saw anyone who had any problems, then he went home for an early gin and tonic. He was the first British vice-president of this particular international organization ever to become the overall chief executive in America. Diaries must always be left with enough spare space so that there is time to cope with the unexpected. Avoiding stress is often the ability to leave time for what Prime Minister Harold Macmillan called 'events, events, events'.

  • Take time off. Not just an hour or two, but give yourself a treat occasionally. Take a day away from the office. It doesn't matter what you do as long as it is to please yourself. Visit the theatre if this is what you enjoy. Find anything that is different from the normal routine, but make certain that nobody can trouble you and that you are answerable to no one - family, colleagues or friends.

  • Develop patience. One of the advantages of national service was that the army taught you to curb impatience and to wait without feeling irritation. The same lesson is essential for budding politicians, or for anyone who hopes to command. As a backbencher once said to me, parodying the title of an old film while we were waiting interminably for a minister and filling in the time with a gin and tonic or two, 'We also serve who only drink and wait.' Better than filling in time by drinking gin is to use it gainfully. Carry a book with you and take every opportunity to read it.


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  • fucsia profile image

    fucsia 7 years ago

    Develop patience is a great tip for all of us and useful in every situation.