I am probably like most small business owners. At the end of my day, I often wonder what I was able to get done. My office is like a revolving door. I get technical tax questions, customer service questions or issues, new sales insight or pricing questions, I get process questions. I get employee issues. I get recruiting decisions or interviewing thoughts. I get vendors asking for my time. I get clients wanting my time even though they already have a team of people to help them. I get family questions like, “Do you know you have to pick up the kids today?” You know how it is. At the end of the day, you feel like you got a lot of nothing done that you needed to.
When I find myself getting pulled in too many directions, I look at reprioritizing my calendar, but more importantly, using my team better. Here are some of my tips to start to get your days back.
First, do as much critical thinking as possible
Constantly running around putting out fires can lead to running around with blinders on. Before you get too distracted, think about the big things you want to accomplish over the next year, then walk that back to the current 90 days. Think: what tasks are going to take the most planning and brain power. If you need additional resources or teammates to help you, figure that out on the front side. The more critical thinking you can do, the less frantic life will be.
Prioritizing becomes even more important
You already know how to prioritize a to-do list (we discussed our A1 Steaksauce method on the Whirks blog previously). This becomes a whole new ball game with phones ringing off the hook. That’s why it is so important to plan as much as you can. Write down a list of the things that stress you out most when life gets super hectic and create an action plan for how to better handle those tasks. Delegating tasks is critical to being a good manager to your team. Decide now what you can delegate, and make sure those team members have the training they need. Remember to delegate – not abdicate – your responsibilities.
Set office hours like a college professor
It’s important for your team to know you still have time to address their concerns, especially if it impacts their everyday routine when you’re unavailable. The term “office hours” may not apply to your industry, but you can still block off times that your employees know they can come to you without feeling like they are interrupting you. You might learn of issues that are slowing down productivity that need to be addressed now, so don’t make your employees feel like they have to wait to communicate with you. Because these hours are a scheduled event on your calendar, you’ll be able to focus on your employees without feeling like you should be doing other things.
Schedule a team outing
Mid tax season when we are at our busiest, we have a firm bowling tournament to get out of the office and do something together that isn’t work. Find an activity that your team will enjoy together and schedule it right in the midst of your craziest season. It may sound counter-productive, but morale and productivity increase when your team feels like they can rely on each other. As a team member, you’re more likely to help your teammates when you were able to bond and get to know each other better.
Give yourself time to wind down
Don’t forget to schedule breaks for yourself to decompress. Life is not a sprint, so don’t run yourself ragged. Taking the time for a quiet, distraction-free lunch can make you less frustrated throughout the week. As impossible as it sounds, schedule time to not check your phone. Even just a few hours on a weeknight can help you feel less overwhelmed. Recognize the signs that you’re getting close to burnout and take a step back. This will help you be a better teammate and a more patient manager.
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