Everything in business is Important!
Not everything in business is Urgent. Thank heavens!
The trouble starts when all your focus is on fighting fires—dealing only with Urgent items—leaving no time to focus on any Important-But-Not-Urgent items.
When you’re firefighting day after day, how will you ever work on the importance of Fire Prevention?
Answer: You won’t!
This is the daily struggle we face as business owners, and even moreso as Contractors.
All of it feels like it’s urgent. This is especially true when there’s an unhappy customer yelling at you and threatening to post their unhappiness online to everyone on planet Earth.
Now, you and I both know that if everything is urgent, there’s no way to prioritize and maximize your and your staff’s day. That's why you have to carve out time to work on the Important-But-Not-Urgent projects that will fix the problems that are happening at your company today, just like they did yesterday, that are likely to continue that way until the final moment you put the key in your office door.
You’re probably really good at playing defense at your company. There’s a value to that, but that means you’re never playing offense.
What’s defense? It’s always being in a reactive mode, going through your business life triaging disasters time and again.
What’s offense? It’s being proactive. It’s staying ahead of potential troubles.
Here’s a worthwhile exercise for you:
- Take a yellow legal pad or a blank Word document, if you prefer.
- List all the things you’re currently working on.
- List all the things that keep going wrong too often and are at the core of why you have to always be in firefighting mode.
- List all the things you know you should be working on to make your business less chaotic and more systematic.
- Divide this long list into two columns:
- Column 1 is the “Important-But-Not-Urgent” List: The items on this list will have you proactively solving problems and challenges, which will help you grow and be more profitable long term.
- Column 2 is the “Not Urgent” List: The items on this list are “nice” to get done, but they don’t move the needle—profitability—like the items in Column 1 would
Isn’t it saner to spend at least a portion of your time, energy and money every day working on the Important-But-Not-Urgent vs. the Not Urgent?
You bet it is. I’ve done this and I’ve had clients do the same. They all agree it’s the only way to operate effectively.
One item that you must have on your Column 1 is the creation of systems, and that means committing to the creation of your Operating Manuals. It’s the best way I know to play offense and be proactive. That’s because it’s the very best way to empower the staff at your company to fill their positions without you and other managers having to micromanage them.
The Operating Manuals I had at my own family business are the same ones working hard at contracting companies just like yours. They put into practice how to separate the Urgent from the Important-But-Not-Urgent and the Not Urgent.
Example: If you’ve never defined in writing how to prioritize the calls you book and how to dispatch them with a defined priority, you’re acting as if all the booked calls are Urgent calls. Manuals guide staff on how to properly prioritize those calls.
Note: The CSR and Dispatcher Manuals I have do this, and it works great!
Isn’t it time to go on the offense at your company?