How busy is the right amount of busy?
by Tom Stuenkel
WorkSite has been very busy lately, building great websites and solving technical issues for our clients.
As with any small business, we need to manage the ebbs and flows of workload. How do you deliver your projects while still finding new business and maintaining your relationships with existing customers? How come I never seems to finish the things I set out to accomplish in a day?
All of this has got us thinking….
“How busy is the right amount of busy?”**
One measure we like to use is this hypothetical: If you could just focus on your current workload (your “TO DO” list as of today), without any meetings, phone calls, distractions, or new assignments, how long would it be before you had nothing to do? How many days before your desk was completely clean?
We have found that the ideal amount of “busy”, by that definition, is 4-5 days. Less than that, you probably don’t have enough business. You will likely procrastinate cause you can always take care of things tomorrow. More than 5 days, you will be overwhelmed. It will be difficult to catch up.
So how do you maintain that constant level of busy? Here are some ideas:
- Let your schedule determine your work, not the other way around – This was good advice we once received. WorkSite always strives to respond to our customers as quickly as possible. That means we can’t always plan out our work. Urgent situations will sometimes pop-up but make an effort to plan your week and stick to it. You’ll be surprised how smoothly the work flows into those buckets of time.
- Don’t get caught fighting windmills – Keep perspective on what is important. It’s easy to fall in a trap of spending hours trying to find the perfect solution for a seemingly crucial problem. Stop and ask yourself, is it really critical to my business? And, as we often say, sometimes good enough today is better than perfect tomorrow.
- Keep an eye on your pipeline – Is your business seasonal? How many projects will you have in a few months? Make sure you take advantage of slower times by working on those special projects. You’ll thank yourself during the busy times.
- Track your time – Yes you are too busy already and this just sounds like one more task. But it really doesn’t take much time. There are many tools out there that help you do it. A few important things: you need to be honest about the time you actually spend on a task, you need to be specific (“4 hours doing work” is not helpful, and you need to look back at the reports. You may surprised to see if reality matches your perception how and why you are so busy.
Hope this helps, now back to work!
** We understand, this thought exercise doesn’t apply to all roles and jobs. But we think it applies very well to small businesses. Consider those activities that fall outside of your main workload that never seem to get completed, like marketing, networking, or catching up on invoicing.
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