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Listen to Episode 93

We’ve got another podcaster on with us this week, Dan Lowry of the Learning FM Podcast, who is also the Director of Facilities for Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, OK. He’s on the show to share some super useful tips for managing stress on a personal and professional level. 

Show Notes: 

Show Script:

Brian:

Welcome to the Operate Intelligently Podcast, the podcast for all things operations.

We have another great episode of the Operate Intelligently Podcast for you today. And joining me is Dan Lowry of LearningFM. com. And Dan is also the Director of Facilities at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Dan, welcome to the podcast.

Dan:

Thanks, Brian. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. 

Brian:

So Dan's joining us to talk about how to manage stress. And Dan, tell us a little bit more about what you do, your background, and you also have a podcast as well.

Dan:

Yeah, so currently, I'm the Director of Facilities for Southern Hills Country Club. I've been here about five years, I have a background in the military and used to be a police officer. So it's kind of a funny road to how I got to where I am now. Family-wise, I am married, been married for a little over 15 years. We've got two wonderful boys, a 12-year-old and a 7-year-old. We have two podcasts, actually, we got the Learning FM Podcast. So that's all about facility management. And then funny enough, my wife and I have a Disney podcast that we co host together called Addicted to the Mouse. So she is a travel agent on the side specializes in Disney. So we're a little fanatical about Disney. We try to get out here just about every chance we can.

Brian:

So I've had a chance to listen to the Learning FM one. And now I'm gonna have to check out the Disney one as well.

Dan:

Yeah, Addicted to the Mouse to check it out. It's good.

Brian:

So, Dan, you also have a background being in the military was working in law enforcement. Can you talk a little bit about that and kind of your, your path to how we got where you're at now?

Dan:

Sure. So it's funny. So I've always been in project management in the military. I was in the National Guard for a little over 15 years, I was an officer in engineering, and that kind of led me into facilities. So I deployed to Baghdad, Iraq in 2007, I was in charge of several facilities over there, learned about facility management got more into project management came back and I had actually been building houses just residential construction here in Tulsa and a suburb of Tulsa Broken Arrow, that housing market in 2008 just went off the cliff. I mean, I don't know if you remember that time in our glorious past, but went off the cliff, was looking for something to do, I'd always been interested in law enforcement and I thought, I mean, why not try it, why not make a change. And I did, and the recession kept going and got laid off twice from the Tulsa police department, and then decided to get back into facilities. And then I became a full-time facility manager with the military for three years at a military base here in Oklahoma called Camp Gruber. And then came on over to Southern Hills. And I've been here ever since.

Brian:

So I mean, that's, that's a great story. Because, I mean, it really demonstrates kind of how you stress impacts our lives, you know, whether it be our work or say, the unseen changes like being laid off, or, you know, the banking crisis that was all about 10 years ago. So is that kind of why you've, like, you know, looked at how to manage it, and how to help others manage it.

Dan:

Yeah, so, I'm really, I really am interested in this in this topic. And, you know, I mean, in my past, I have been involved in jobs that are inherently stressful deploy into a combat zone is, is kind of inherently, and it's amazing to me how little we're taught. It wasn't until I got back from that, and I had been, you know, married with family, which is stressful, kids, stressful, money, stressful, work stressful, it wasn't actually, until I got involved with the police department that we actually had to classes on dealing with stress. And so we had a psychiatrist come in, which makes sense, I mean, you're, you're constantly in this in this heightened sense of awareness and dealing with, you know, acute stress and then chronic stress, which I can get to here in a minute. But learning about that made me realize that there's so little that's actually taught, especially to anybody that's not involved in one of those types of professions. So like, just facility management, project management, there's, I think so much you can take away just from learning a little bit about the types of stress how to identify stressors and some little tricks and tips that you can use to just better your life. I like teaching, I like teaching about facility management. But I think this is one of those underlying things that can either make that make that career better, or maybe inhibited if you don't know how to really deal with it.

Brian:

I agree with you. I, you know, as we always say, here, facility managers are those kind of unsung unsung heroes that are keeping everything working and keeping everybody happy while they're using the facilities. So you talked a little about stressor, so, you know, what are those? And how do you identify those and get to the root of what's causing them. 

Dan:

Okay. So, stressors is basically, there's the events or conditions in your surroundings that trigger stress, right. And so you've got two types of stress that you really want to identify and figure out how to deal with the ones acute stress. And that's what when we talk about fight or flight response, it's, it's things like getting a job interview or getting a speeding ticket. It's the immediate and intense response to a certain circumstance. And so something that's just a single episode of acute stress, it generally doesn't cause problems for most healthy people. But severe acute stress, like in a combat zone, if you're in some sort of stressful situation that could lead to like post traumatic stress disorder. The other type of stress is chronic stress. And so that's when stressors stick around for long periods of time. It's the persistent stress that can lead to the health problems such as headaches and insomnia, it's more subtle than acute stress, but the effects maybe longer lasting and more problematic. Identifying that and knowing how to deal with that is really where I like to focus.

So, effective stress management really starts with just that identifying what you're what you're trying to control. And the way that I like to do that is just to make a list of the situations the concerns of the challenges that trigger your stress response, you really look at it in two different ways. You can look at external sources, so external stressors or events and situations that happened to you right, but that you don't really have a whole lot of control over them happening but you have control over how you deal with that examples are that are like major life changes, like a death in the family, perhaps a divorce maybe maybe a pregnancy maybe you're playing somebody who can be good or bad your environment from the world around you would be an external stressor, unpredictable events, such as like, if you're in-laws show up for the weekend, that you aren't expecting, maybe your workplace is a good example. And then just society social situations where you meet new people, or maybe you're injected into a workplace party or meeting that you don't know anybody.

And then internal stressors that you really do have a lot of control over the map actually happening to you. I mean, the biggest one is fear, fear of flying or fear of public speaking how to how to tackle those fears. Another one is that I tackle that I wrestle with is uncertainty and lack of control. I like I'm kind of type A, like being in control of my environment. And it stresses me out when I'm not. So like, if I'm maybe waiting on some sort of results from somebody else. I just, I get a little antsy, and then beliefs and how your beliefs shape who you are, and how you interact with the environment is another one, but your internal beliefs.

Brian:

I agree, 100% and I think especially, you know, we were talking earlier about, you know, being a parent. And that uncertainty, lack of control, you know, especially, for example, like, when you go to a large amusement park, or any large venue, you don't want that fear, right? Because then it's, I mean, I think part of it is you, you want that control, so you can kind of keep everything moving, keep everybody having fun, all that. And other half is you don't want that, like, okay, I can't find the kid, they may only be 10 feet away. But now I've got a you know, you figure it all out, you know, your heart rate.

Dan:

It's another reason to listen to addicted to the mouse, right? So you can know amusement parks.

I'm just kidding. Yeah, no, that's totally right. So when you understand what causes these, these stressors, then you got to figure out how to deal with them, right. So there's essentially three things you can do for uncontrollable stressors, you can do two of the three things, you can either accept it. So I mean, say the serenity prayer, and then move on. Or you can remove yourself from the situation, right, those are your basic two options. And then for your third option is controlling the stressor and identifying what you can control. And there's several ways you can do that. I've got several tips and tricks. But one big way is time management. Another big way is delegation. And so we can talk through this.

Brian:

Yeah, yeah, so I mean, talk a little bit about how you would use like, time management delegation to, to kind of control that.

Dan:

So tools for time management that I find most effective, I'm going to start with one that's kind of like an anti-tool, it's, it's multitasking, right. And you hear everybody talking about multitasking, are you great multitasker, you probably put it on your resume, I can multitask, it's, it's nonsense. If you ask me multi, nobody can really actually multitask. Because what you're actually doing is just switching rapidly between two different tasks. And overall, studies have shown that if, if you take the same amount of time, and you quote, unquote, multitask, you're actually losing about 40% of your productive productivity, right. So if you can just remove multitasking from your vocabulary, and focus on one task at a time completed, and then move on to the next task, you'll actually be a lot more productive than trying to do two things at once, which is effectively what you're doing. Another way of managing your time is to keep an activity log. So you can you can look on Google, you can you can search it, there's a lot of different ways to do this. Now, this is really into the weeds. But if you're super organized, and you want to be super organized, this is a great way to do that. And basically, it's just a log of everything you need to do to include date, time, activity description, you can even go in there and put in how you feel, how long you think it's going to take, and then how much value it's going to give you. And then you can adjust that. So then once you have your activity log, you can set your goals. So what I like to tell people and this goes back to, you know, military days, being on staff and coming up with plans. Every goal has to meet certain criteria. And I'm sure you probably heard of smart goals. Yep. So, okay, so smart goals as an acronym stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. 

So specifically, be specific is basically answering the five W's who, what, when, where, and why being measurable with your goals? How do you measure success? How do you know if you've actually achieved something attainable, making sure that something is realistic, not setting unattainable goals for yourself, that is just going to frustrate you and lead to more stress, right, make sure that your goals are relevant. So does it seem worth wild is as it does it solve the problem, and are you the right person to do the job. And then finally, time bound, because if you said all these goals for yourself, or or your subordinates and you and you don't tell them or yourself, when it has to be done, it becomes even more frustrating, stressful, because now just hanging over your head, and it's not getting done. If you if you can set a timeline for these things, it gives you again, that attainability.

Brian:

And I think they the other tip I like is doing your activity log. Because I've been reading how recent research shows how like journaling, for instance, every day helps you kind of kind of help your brain makes sense of like, here's what I have to do like you, you're able to kind of list that down and get everything in one place, as well as make sense in order of it. And then it's not as scary when it's like you said with multitasking where you're like, I've got all these things I need to get done in the next 15 minutes. And it's not going to happen because your brain is trying to do 10 different things at once.

Dan:

Absolutely. And me and my wife are perfect examples. Because we feel the stress on us. We know in our minds, we've got a list of things to do, we can tell you what that looks at they but we don't really know. But as soon as you write it all down, it becomes much more attainable you can then prioritize what needs to be done first and then you can set a schedule for yourself on how to do that. And the best way like to do that is to backwards plan so start at the end. So if you've got those time bound goals, what has to be done for start their work backwards? How long is it going to take to get it done, then you know when you need to start it in order to meet your goal right and just backwards plan from there it works and can like to use my wife Leslie as an example because she will run around I guess so much to do. I got so much to do. But as soon as she writes it all down, it really doesn't seem like as much as she thinks it is. And instantly reduce stress. As soon as it's written down.

Brian:

It's almost a form of like reverse human engineering to a certain extent of like take steps back and evaluate what you need to do. And then don't worry so much about what hasn't been done yet. But what can you do right now to get one step closer to what you need to get done?

Dan:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Commercial- Brian:

Are you looking for a way to get inspired about your work as a facility or operations professional? Join us at our annual maintenance and operations conference Dude University and Raleigh, North Carolina, May 5-8, 2019, you'll be able to attend educational sessions about your day to day work, meet professionals from across the country that work in your and other industries and enjoy food, friends and fun in The Dude's hometown. Learn more and register online at university2019.com.

Brian:

Do you have any other you know, tips that you have around reducing stress and managing time that you'd want to share with listeners?

Dan:

So real quick, let me touch on delegation. And then I do have some best practices if you'd like me to go through those. So delegation if you are in a position. And if I'm talking to facility managers, or project managers, this is absolutely if you're in a position to where you're controlling resources, then you're in a position to delegate, right. So everyone has the same 168 hours per week, we all have to do the best we can to meet all of our goals that we've set for ourselves with the limited resources that we have. So the best way to do that is to delegate. And so if you understand it, effective span of control, which is basically you can only manage effectively somewhere around three to five people. And from there, then you need other levels of assistant management, at least to be the most effective manager, right.

And then figuring out what you have, do yourself what you can let others do, but that you have to help them do what you can totally trust others to do, and then delegate all that stuff. And I won't go into it. But the the best article I have ever read on delegation is a Harvard Business Review article called Who's Got the Monkey, it's a great, great, it's, I don't know, it's probably about 10 pages, you can find it on Google just type in who's got the monkey and it's awesome, it goes into different kinds of time, Boston post time system and post time and self imposed time. It's by on kin and wash or the the two authors anyway, if you got time, you might check it out. Because it's, it's a good one.

Brian:

Well, and I liked how you put quantifies around that to like, you know, you're not going to be able to control more than three to five people effectively. Because I think that's good. You know, we've all probably been in organizations where, whether they grew too fast, or maybe they didn't have the right people to come in and manage. And you have one person managing, you know, upwards of 10 sometimes, and I've even had it in volunteer organizations, I've been in some times where they wanted like, 15 volunteer people to report into another person. I said, that's, you know, that's crazy, because we're not going to be able to effectively do it, even with the reduced time framework that we have in a volunteer role. And I remember on my way out of the role, I gave a recommendation to break it up into smaller teams so that they could effectively manage what they had, instead of getting overwhelmed and kind of getting in the situation we were talking about, where you're just, you know, you don't know where to start. You don't have a priority, sometimes you're waiting on an answer.

Dan:

Absolutely. It's funny, I was talking to my son the other day, and I like to break everything down. And maybe just because of my personality and background, but I like to break everything down in simplest blocks, the simplest forms were just talking about nutrition. And because he, you know, he, I think he came in and asked for a bag of Cheez-its that's after he just had something unhealthy, like, no, you gotta have something healthy, I don't really understand what that is. So we just talked and talked about and how it's more like a math problem as far as macro nutrients and what you need in calories. And we kind of talked about this whole thing, but when you just simplify it, and you break it down into either a list or a problem, it becomes so much more manageable and then it's not this kind of ambivalent, weird cloud of stress thats hanging around, you just quantify things and just start knocking them off one by one.

Brian:

Google or one of them used to have a term for it like, the big hairy goal.

Yeah, and then it was like, same thing where like, it becomes like this, this huge goal. And it's, you know, a lot of times the whole team doesn't understand how to do it. And again, it kind of creates more stress, like, it sounds great at first, like, you know, we're going to go out and just do this and really knock the ball and you're not the cover off the ball. But in reality, it's like, you know, how do we tackle this? And is it more daunting than what we actually think it is?

Dan:

That's a great point.

Commercial- Brian:

Do you enjoy the Operate Intelligently Podcast? If so, go to iTunes, and give us a review, we'd love to hear from you.

Dan:

A few best practices. So if you block the first 15 to 30 minutes of your day, just to get organized, and prioritize the goals for that day. That makes a huge difference. And similarly, if you can block the last 15 minutes of each day, to review everything you've done, and then go over what you maybe didn't get to, and then the agenda for the following day, that is going to help you sleep better at night. And it's going to have to help you the next day when you come in. And just understanding what has to be done and where you are on your schedule. One of the best things I do is I use a time management tool, I use Outlook is I mean, I think it's widely available. But any sort of time management tool, calendar management tool, task management tool will work. But I like Outlook, because you can do things like you take emails, you can just drag them straight to the calendar. And you can create yourself reminders or appointments or whatever. Again, avoid multitasking. I mean, that's one of the best practices work in a clean environment can't can't tell you how much stress is relieved, just by cleaning up my office every so often, I should do it more than I actually do.

Understanding your energy cycles. So taking advantage of the times when you have the most energy some some people are morning people, some people are night owls, I happen to not be a morning person. So I actually have more energy after lunch, I can get a little more done. So I can schedule my day better that way. Just knowing myself forwarding emails, goes back to delegation. So when I get a work order, I if it's if it's within a certain I use do solutions do this, if it's within a certain category, for instance, maybe it's lighting, or maybe it's a mechanical system, those bypass me and automatically or out straight to the technicians that specialize in those. So I didn't have to see the same thing with emails, you can forward them to whoever the responsible party is, and gets it off your plate setting time limits. So going back to those small goals, time bound, making sure if you give yourself 30 minutes to respond to emails and answer voicemails stick to it, if you're going in our past that it's going to lead into, you know, encroachment on other parts of your schedule. And that's going to be stressful, breaking large task into smaller tasks. So going back to like, how do you eat an elephant one bite at a time that also by giving yourself smaller, more manageable goals gives you a sense of accomplishment, right. So if your overall goal is to construct a house that might take six months, well, maybe the first goal should be just to construct a building that and then construct the foundation. And then don't waste time waiting. So if someone's running late, maybe make use of that time, respond to an email, or maybe return a phone call staying healthy. So this is a big one for me. Like I know, we all get in ruts. And we we maybe don't eat right all the time or exercise all the time. But the more the healthier you can stay, the better nutrition you have. And the more exercise you get, the more the healthier you will feel more rested, you'll feel the better you will sleep.

And then really just the last one I have is take breaks. If you're tired and you're zoning out and you can't focus on anything, take 15 minutes, collect yourself relax a little bit and then jump back into it. You're going to be more effective, more efficient. Even if you take 15 minutes away from actual work, then you would be just kind of treading water and trying to do something that you can't focus on.

Brian:

Yeah, I agree. I have that sometimes if I'm blocked on something or can't really figure it out. I take a quick 510 minute walk sometimes clear my head and then you know, come back and approach have much more calm demeanor and such.

Dan:

Absolutely, absolutely.

Brian:

Well Dan, those are some just fantastic tips. I really like kind of how you broke it down and gave you know, really quick, actionable things that people can do to kind of relieve their stress. And thank you for coming on to the podcast today.

Dan:

Well, thanks for having me. I appreciate it. I really like visiting with Dude Solutions. You guys have been great. For the last five years I've been here. I welcome any opportunity to support you guys.

Brian:

Well, we appreciate it. We're, you know, we're definitely out there to, you know, make it easier for you guys to do your job and to keep everybody safe and happy. And like I said, if you want to listen to more Dan, he's got a great podcast at LearningFM.com as well as what was the name of the Disney one it was the Addicted to the Mouse. So I'm actually going to check that out because I'm very interested to see what you guys are talking about. Please do so. Again. Thank you for joining us today. I'm Brian McDonald from Dude Solutions.

Thank you for listening to the Operate Intelligently Podcast produced by Dude Solutions. You can reach us by emailing dspodcast@dudesolutions.com or check us out on the web at dudesolutions.com.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai
 

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