A couple of weeks back, we hosted an important event for HT City and I realised, much to my dismay, that writing a calmness column for two years does not guarantee freedom from stress when it comes to tackling panic situations. And it wasn’t just me. Everywhere around me, I saw tense faces of colleagues from the events management team, trying to manage the inflow of invitees, seeing to catering arrangements, checking stage and sound details.
In the end, we managed a great show, but by the time the curtains came down, millions of heartbeats collectively must have been missed. That day I learnt a magical calmness mantra — when it comes to stress of organising something, be it a party, the wedding function of a loved one, a students’ reunion or even a small dinner party at home — it pays well to ‘over-estimate’.
Yes, you heard it right. No matter how meticulously you plan the RSVPs and how realistic is your judgment about how much of what will be required, you will still feel a rush of panic at the last minute. And that can be avoided only if you have over-budgeted for everything - invites, people, food, arrangements, cost...you name it. A friend of mine who calls herself ‘a pro’ when it comes to organising parties with ‘no panic in the air’ says that she always keeps a buffer, and then a secret buffer beyond the public buffer!
When her brother was getting engaged, they got to know on the morning of the function that some relatives are complaining about not having received the invites, when all cards had been exhausted weeks ago. While her parents fretted about the having to face grumbling relatives, my friend magically produced five invitation cards from her ‘secret buffer’, bribed a teenaged boy to pose as a courier boy and deliver the card with an apology from the courier company for the delay. The relatives suddenly warmed up to her family and they had a good time discussing the sorry state of courier agencies in the country.
I’m not suggesting you go to the extent of manipulation that my friend did, but it still does well to remain stress free by keeping buffers while doing anything. If you have over budgeted for things, and your realistic estimates turn out to be true, it seems like an added bonus. Over budgeting of time also works superbly well in avoiding stress. In our country where people and things work only in their own sweet time, fretting over someone getting late will only give you one thing — hypertension. So while all of us, including yours truly, wait for a dream India where punctuality would rule, over-budgeting the time, rather than pacing up and down waiting for people, would help you greet the late comers with a calm smile rather than a frustrated glare. Trust me, they’ll feel much more guilty that way. Try it.
Sonal Kalra does not like the cliché of IST being called the Indian Stretchable Time. But is not ready to sacrifice her health for people who just don’t get it. Mail your calmness tricks to email@example.com