Today is a slightly different post in that I am not going to describe tools to make you more productive, nor books to help you improve yourself. Instead, I am going to talk about how I deal with an almost every day challenge I face.
I live in London and work in an office that’s about 40 minutes away by public transport. Most days I get a train into work and back, sometimes the bus. I’ve walked once and cycled once, but I’m definitely not fit enough (yet) to do it that often, plus in this weather it’s a real challenge.
And this leads me to my first every day challenge.
Slow Walkers In Front Of Me
My normal walking pace is quite fast by most people’s standards, when walking with others I often have to make a conscious effort to slow down. On my own I’m free to walk as fast as I please, that is until someone ahead of me is going at a slower pace and there isn’t room to get past them comfortably. The worst offenders are those people who are just a little slower than my normal pace, so I have to go beyond my normal pace to get past them or walk side by side for a little while which just feels awkward.
I try to make myself think about it at the time or just after I’ve encountered them and this helps me relax. If I feel like they’re holding me up, I remind myself that I could have left earlier, or that they may be injured, in recovery or perhaps deep in thought. Those are all completely valid reasons for someone to be moving slowly and not able or aware of the need to make space for others to pass them. They’re just going about their life the way they want to, just like me.
I also remind myself that perhaps sometimes I’m rushing around a little too much myself, and forcibly slow myself down as I do when walking with others. Doing this more when there isn’t someone ahead of me is something else I practice to take time to appreciate my surroundings and be more in the moment rather than worrying about where I’m going.
That Email From a Co-worker Pointing Out My Mistakes
I work really hard and sometimes there’s so much pressure to get things out on time that I have to take a chance and not check that everything is absolutely perfect before I hit send. It could be a label with the wrong title, or using an older version of a file that is missing some recent changes, or including a new recipient in the distribution list, or something that I have read about a lot and done myself quite a few times, forgetting the attachment!
There always seems to be a first-class noticer lurking around just waiting for an opportunity to show off their noticing skills, often with others in CC.
I often think, “Who do they think they are, calling me out like that? Why do they need to CC in those people to remind me about the attachment, they could have just let me know. Are they trying to make me look bad?”
Whenever an email bothers me, I try to picture it from different perspectives. Maybe they’re saying it in a playful way, do I usually get along with them? What if I had written that email, how would I mean it? Did they CC in others to protect me from some harsher person’s response?
After thinking through things for a little bit, I usually thank them for their email and apologise for the error. If it’s a missing attachment, I just go ahead and send it as soon as possible, if someone else asks about the attachment after that because they haven’t seen the follow up email, I thank them too and point out that somebody else already noticed, then send them the attachment again.
Most of the time, people are just trying to be helpful, it’s hard to translate tone from an email so I find it’s best to assume that the tone is helpful. Even if they are trying to rile you up, responding politely and accepting you made a mistake is the opposite of what they want, so do it and you win!
When The Train/Bus Is Delayed, Again
The bus has been “due” for 5 minutes and then disappears from the ticker without ever showing up. You’ve been sitting in traffic for so long, you could have walked there faster. The train is just sitting further up the tracks, not coming into the platform or even worse, you’re sat on it already and waiting between stations, so you can’t even get off and walk or take a cab.
When these things happen, I remind myself that they don’t happen every day in fact most days everything is on time, or at least reasonably close. If I let the people who are expecting me know about the delay, they’ll understand, there’s no need to get frustrated about being made late. It also gives me some additional time to read, or take in my surroundings, or work on relaxing myself if I feel tense.
Everybody has their own life, just like me, and is trying to do their own things in their own ways. When things aren’t going the way we want them to, it’s not necessarily our fault, or their fault, or anybody’s fault. Sometimes things just happen, it’s how we react to them that makes them good or bad, and our first reaction doesn’t have to be the one we hold on to. Nothing is guaranteed, nothing is perfect and the best we can do is to prepare enough so that under the right circumstances, everything will go as we expect.