Is this your typical morning? Get in early. Start working on the things that you must complete today, only to have the phone ring and before you know it, the day is over.
There are many days that I am swept away in a swirl of “reaction,” where I go home feeling like I did not accomplish the tasks I set out to do. It is hard to take a step back to really think about what needs to be done that day and not be distracted by shiny objects (or persistent clients). In this industry most of us wear many different “hats.” One moment we might be installers, the next marketers, the next accountants, and the next sales people. So how do you assure yourself that you are doing the right thing at the right time?
1.Have a strategic plan. What is your company’s purpose? Why do you do what you do? Where do you want to be in 3-5 years? What are your goals? Who is your biggest completion? Knowing where you want to go is the only way to create a path of getting there. (Share these answers with your employees. Ask them their thoughts. Get everyone on the same page so you’re all moving in the right direction – together). Without this crucial part you cannot have a clear direction. There are many great books on strategic planning. (My most recent read on the subject is Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish).
2.Prioritize. I find making a daily “to do” list is essential. How many times have we started a project only to have a client walk in or have the phone ring? By time you sit back down you don’t remember where you were. I heard a great statistic that it takes more than 20 minutes to refocus after you’ve been interrupted. (This is why I have now hired someone to answer the phone and screen calls).
Having a list assures that the tasks you set out to complete at the beginning of the day are right in front of you during the day. And if you don’t get to them, they go right to the top of the list the next day.
3.Get to work first. I try to come in an hour before anyone else gets in. This is my most productive hour of the day. The phone isn’t ringing. The showroom is still locked, and I can start chopping thought my list.
4.Meet with your team. Something that really changed my company is when we started having weekly meetings. It is amazing the communication gap that can happen with only five people. Having an hour each week to go through next week’s jobs, touch on current jobs, and talk about “best practices” have been clutch. The company provides coffee as an added incentive. We do this before the store opens so there are no interruptions.
5.Out of sight, out of mind? My desk is a mess. I like to think of it as organized chaos. Having the things I need to focus on in front of me keeps me motivated to get it taken care of. There is a joke in my office that the only time my desk is clean is when I go on vacation. (Now this one may not work for everyone; some people may do better with a clean desk.) Know what works for you and how you work best. Your office should be a happy place.
6.Most things can wait an hour. This sentence changed my life. In our fast-paced technology-driven society, we feel that we must respond to everything immediately. (Show of hands for those who click on the send/receive email icon more than 10 times a day.) Carving out time for projects the way you would for a meeting will make you more efficient. This is our technology guideline: If I call you, then I need you as soon as possible. If I text you, then answer me during your next break. If I email you, then respond within 12 hours.
Will following these tips ensure everyday is smooth sailing? Absolutely not! But you’ll have an overall direction and a daily plan, and knowing is half the battle. (Points for knowing the reference).
What are your tips for controlling the day? Share them with me in the comment section below.
Heather L. Sidorowicz is project manager/designer for Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.