Here are some tips on facing those times when you have questions to answer, people to reach, appointments to make, etc. and tackling the bureaucracy out there will take a special brand of cold determination. This game plan is geared towards situations when phone calls need to be made, but you can modify the principles to your situation.
The Power Hour
Dedicate a focused session to accomplishing your goal where your state of mind is: I am not going to be distracted until I get ‘er done! It doesn’t really have to be an hour, but it’s a different concept from setting aside a productivity day, or just saying, “I work on it a little every day”.
A power hour deserves its own list of steps to accomplish your goal. Actually, each power hour often deserves three lists, or a list with three columns:
- Actions (e.g. numbers to call)
- Results (e.g. answers to questions)
- Follow-up tasks (e.g. fax documents)
Make sure you have a pen so you can check things off along the way, make notes, and adjust the list. You may call one phone number just to be given three more to call. You’ve dedicated the time, so just go through the steps methodically. Then again, don’t be afraid to…
If you are making your way through your list and you start to get the impression that you’ve made a wrong turn, or you didn’t really understand what you were supposed to do from the beginning, or something you found out along the way modified your goal slightly, go back a few steps, or even to the beginning. Even if you call the same number you called twenty minutes ago and ask the same questions, you are now better equipped to ask more and/or understand the answers better.
Keep your Eye on the Prize
Ok, the frustration is already starting to creep in. You’ve gone down too many blind alleys and hit too many brick walls, and maybe somebody was even really rude. Keep your game face on. The Power Hour is only for focused determination and nothing else is going to slow you down. Save the frustration for another time. (See Bonus below)
Don’t Assume Anything
Nothing beats the frustration of, “I was never told…” So head ‘em off at the pass and ask as many questions as possible about your situation.
Try to Walk Away with Something Tangible
If you made the appointment, great! Got a question answered, awesome! You have a full follow up task list? Do whatever can be done right away (like send off that fax) and then give yourself a treat.
Congratulations! You made it through the Power Hour.
Bonus: 2 Tips for Sanity!
Dedicate Frustration Space
It’s not going to help you in the midst of a productive session, but you can’t just bottle it up either- that’s not healthy. You can save the groan/yell/diatribe/whatever, for later as long as you know where your outlet is, be it a (willing) friend/spouse/relative’s ear, a journal, a blog or anything else. (Just make sure you’re getting the frustration out so you can move on, and not amplifying it until you won’t be able to face it again.)
Have a Spotter
It may not always be possible, but sometimes just sitting next to someone who’s there to give you support in achieving your goal can give you the strength to make it through. Give them a job, like crossing items off the list or writing down numbers.
Stay tuned for Part 2: Attitude
And don’t forget to leave your own constructive tips on facing bureaucracy and getting things done in the comments!