So its another new year, one more time to clean up all those items that have carried over from month to month, and now have managed to carry over into a different year. And like most of us in small businesses, you probably figured that you would have been able to spend some time over the Christmas holiday to finally address those nagging issues. Right! Like that happened. So whats it going to take to learn that vacations are meant for vacations, and problems are to be solved in their own realm?
The closure of a calendar year is a good time to look back at the past 12 months and see if you like what happened. But precisely what to ponder? Theres definitely no shortage of things to consider or to improve upon.
Theres the age-old battle of policies and procedures that will always need attention. Do we have any? Do we have enough? And though pretty doubtful, do we have too many? Without any credible semblance of procedures to follow or policies that need to be adhered to, the entire organization could go random and become the source of our nagging issues. Perhaps a better procedure here, or a clearer, updated policy there would have resulted in projects and tasks being completed already.
Perhaps it is delegation that needs to be addressed. If we could off-load a bunch of lesser demanding tasks to coworkers or employees, then well be free to address other business needs. My own personal problem with this one is that I just dont seem to have been blessed with the patience (read: tolerance) to watch someone fumble around to do something half as good and in twice the time as I am able to do it. But still, if I could let go of even the slightest of those little things, eventually they would add up and Id have some of that time back.
Perhaps we needed to adapt better and faster, or at least smarter. Were in a rapidly changing, and constantly fluctuating realm. One days A/V wiz-bang genius toy is pass within a couple of weeks or months, and were supposed to quote it, know absolutely everything there is to know about it, install it, and keep it running forever. This is quite a challenge. Perhaps reading more would have kept me up with changes to this or that device and possible replacements or phase-outs. But time to sit back and read is scarce, and definitely impossible to schedule.
Creating a routine can help. Read a magazine everyday at breakfast, or the local A/V trade rag over lunch. Without a regular, repeatable regimen, such reading will eventually fall away. Keeping up to speed in our industry is huge, so developing a reading pattern is virtually mandatory.
And then, of course, what do you do with all of that info that youve read? How can you use it? How can you even remember it all? I personally rip page after page out of magazines and file them accordingly. I have one folder for plasmas, another for receivers, and a third for control systems. Ill never find a specific magazine containing some partially recollected article several months from now, but I will be able to find that unkempt folder on control systems that contains that article describing the latest and greatest IP control product. These folders are quicker, easier, and far more retrievable. A little persistent rip-and-file habit here saves a lot of time down the road.
It is these little tips and tricks of personal habits that have helped me correct the journey Im on. These adjustments in personal habits and routines are the real foundation for changes and improvements for me to make in the coming business year. Every little change adds up to things being in the right spot for ready recall, a handy reference when needed, or the faster completion of a project here and there. One of those things I cant wait to apply a happier solution to is not having to bring home all of those books over the holidays. Spending time with my friends and family is worth whatever time and effort it takes to get it right.
Carl Easton (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the director of systems engineering at Axiom Design Inc.