Three Fires to Fight

2019. Served up neatly packaged, wrapped with a bow. A brand new year full of hope, dreams, and perhaps unrealistic expectations. Week two of 2019, it’s time for real talk. Have we crashed the diet, blown the budget, and lost the gym key card, possibly on purpose? Maybe. Put your projects for SAM on the back-burner. Quite possibly. Nevertheless, goal setting at the start of a fresh year is what we do. Sticking to it….well, that’s the hard part.

On the business side of things, it’s crucial to have a clear direction. Goals, plans, strategies all those things help us further our path in that direction. More times than not, reality sets in and deadlines pile up, new projects are acquired, and clients still take priority. Before you know it, you’ve got a forest fire with nothing but a water cooler near your desk. While not all “fires” can be planned for, there are a few things you can do to have your work be a little more “flame retardant”.

1. The Fire of Stress

You lost a form, a contact’s phone number. You were late for a meeting, missed an appointment. You just spent 15 minutes looking for a stapler!! These may seem trivial, but “little foxes” creep into our day, and frazzle us without us even recognizing the time they are draining.

Solution: Breathe. Trivial issues have trivial solutions. Slow your pace, calm down and make a plan. If you are in a leadership role, how you react to fires is especially critical. When you approach problems with a level head, your trustworthiness level goes up, and I bet the number of fires goes down as well! Win-win!

When building new programs in SAM, it’s easy to get sidetracked. The processes are complex and there are a lot of moving cogs. We regularly recommend Tom Wujec’s TED Talk about how to make toast can help you break down the steps and trick your brain into seeing more paths than you may originally think.

2. The Fire of Disorder

While disorder in tangible things such as your desk, notes,   computer, office, etc can all contribute to added stress, I am talking more along the lines of disorder in your scheduling.

Solution: Establish a routine, and ensure you get to everything on your to-do list accomplished. Come up with a general plan and  block your time.

Resources we love:

Marie Kondo’s Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Pomodoro technique for time tracking

Relating your client tasks to a planned workflow designed in SAM can support your teams in planning for better ways to use SAM to combat the disorder fire.  

3. The Fire of Overreach

You’ve agreed to too many projects, taken on more than you can handle, or you have plenty of ideas for new strategies or plans, that simply vanish from your mind before it can even begin to be considered. Just like your schedule, or your desk, clutter is a major culprit of stress in your mind as well.

Solution: Dump everything thing you can possibly think of that needs to get done onto paper. Give yourself some time to access it, organize it, prioritize it and come up with a plan for implementation.

Are you doing unnecessary steps? Creating more work for yourself than needed? All this “workshopping” onto paper just might be your saving grace. Consider it a detox for your brain. You’ve been trying to hold onto too much information that a notepad, word doc, journal, or Subway napkin(not really) could happily hold for you. Free up your brain space!!

Let SAM support your team when you’re thinking about tasks to complete by first simplifying the steps to closing a case. We often refer to this as your Case Stages.

Then, practice this data-dump exercise for all of the tasks your team completes to move a client from one step to the next. Be sure to link the tasks to your Case Stages, so they can be prioritized and reviewed to determine if the task is still relevant or if there are better ways to do it through centralization, templates or automation.

All in all, planning ahead, being mindful and doing it all with grace is the takeaway here. Having the ability to assess your situation, and with an open mind find ways to tweak it for efficiency is not always easy. But it IS always beneficial. Creating a consistent system to abide by, allows flexibility when problems DO arise. Because arise they will. That’s just the way of things. But at least, with plans, routines, and strategies in place, you can rest easier knowing that not everything will fall apart.

These three things may sound extremely simple, and you’re right they are! They just take initial planning and time. But being prepared and organized is what prevents things from going off the rails. They are the sprinkler system built into your business for when these fires start. Crisis may pop up, but not as often, or at least won’t last long. Leaving you freed up to be creative, less stressed and ready to tackle this new year!