“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.”
These words of wisdom come from the late, great management guru Peter Drucker, and for me they really hit home. Because while there are many strategies for improving your business, you won’t succeed at any of them if you don’t first figure out how to manage your time, and your team’s time, well.
I’ve learned this lesson the hard way, rushing to meet and sometimes miss appointments, flights, and deadlines. Staying late at the office, working weekends, and spending my vacation on the phone with my team and clients. Letting my days get derailed by issues I didn’t need to get involved in.
To change this, I’ve had to get a lot smarter—and stricter—over the years about how I manage my time. I’ll be discussing what I’ve learned in our September webinar this Thursday, but in the meanwhile I want to share with you three tactics I think every landscape pro can benefit from:
Create detailed work orders for every project. As soon as one of our sales designers at Grunder Landscaping sells a job, our design assistant, Emily, creates a detailed work order for the project’s production team leader. The work order lists out the exact type and quantity of materials the project will require, along with clear instructions on what exactly needs to be done. Between the work order and the drawings, the production team has all the information they need to do the job. This cuts down dramatically on trips back and forth to the job site, on calls between the production crews and the sales designers, and on miscommunication between us and our clients.
Take an hour or two on the weekend to plan your week. Go somewhere quiet and think through what you want to accomplish in the days ahead and then rigorously block off the time you’ll need to do it in. At GLC we share our digital calendars so we can all see what we’re up to and where, but I also keep my own journal in which I write down and color-code every appointment and task I have scheduled, for both my professional and personal life. The format may be old-school, but it works for me. And by taking a little bit of time on Saturday or Sunday to plan ahead, think things through, and write it all down, I find I’m much more able to relax and enjoy the rest of the weekend.
OHIO, or Only Handle It Once. This is a tactic MGI executive coach Jim Cali has worked to instill in our ACE Peer Group members and it’s one I’ve adopted myself. The idea is you handle on the spot all the tasks you can rather than putting them off and letting them pile up. How many of you open an e-mail, read it, and close it, making a mental or physical note to add it to your ever-growing to-do list? You will be surprised by how much time you’ll save if instead you reply right away, or forward the message to the right team member, or make the decision you need to make then and there. As one of the signs we have hanging in the GLC shop says, procrastination is opportunity’s natural assassin. Do what you can now.
Have a great week!