Does morningtime at your storage facility begin with a pile of work that doubles in size by the time your day is over? If you find yourself bouncing from one unfinished project to the next all day, it might be time to reassess your work habits.
Read on for seven tips on how to whittle down your workload by being more productive.
1. Apply the 80/20 rule.
According to a theory known as the Pareto Principle, 20 percent of what we do every day actually produces 80 percent of our results. Tackle that 20 percent by listing the top three things you need to get done during the day. Base the list on a simple question: Will this help me make money and move my business forward?
“If you know the top three things, it’s easier to stay focused,” said Cathy Sexton, a productivity speaker and coach in St. Louis, MO.
Tip: Track daily activities in a time study for a week to gauge which tasks produce results and which ones just suck time.
2. Plan the night before.
If you take 15 minutes to plan the next day, you’ll save 60 minutes the next morning that you otherwise would have spent arranging your schedule.
Block out time for specific tasks. “It’s like setting a meeting with yourself,” Sexton said.
Download a free online calendar to help you plan. Google Calendar and Rainlendar both integrate with other calendar apps, can be displayed on your computer and can work with just about any operating system.
3. Use a daily checklist.
Checking off daily tasks at your storage facility allows staff to be “more proactive than reactive” when it comes to getting things done, said Anne Ballard, president of marketing, training and developmental services at Universal Storage Group, an Atlanta, GA-based self-storage storage operator. If managers know there’s a schedule or rhythm to operating the property, things flow more smoothly, she said.
List all tasks necessary in order to open, operate during the day and close. For example, at Ballard’s stores, managers do a morning “reality check” by driving around the grounds for inspection. On the checklist for closing is the job of plugging in the golf cart so that the morning crew doesn’t get sidetracked by a dead battery.
4. Don’t begin the day with email.
Unless email is crucial to your day, it’s too easy to get wrapped up in email conversations and links that pull you in 10 different directions. Schedule an initial email check on your calendar for early in the day but get to work on that crucial 20 percent before you dive into email.
Also, stay off social media sites. You might think you’re multitasking, but it actually takes around 30 percent of your brainpower to switch from one mental task to another. Even though it seems like you’re doing several things at once, you’re still stopping and starting continually.
5. Keep instructions short and simple.
Ballard prefers compact documents when it comes to telephone and walk-in customer scripts, marketing goals, and weekly, monthly or annual reports. Confine your process or activity to a one-page set of instructions if possible.
“It keeps people more organized and more likely to use it, meet deadlines and get sales instead of rambling on the phone to someone,” Ballard said.
6. Set SMART goals.
A goal needs a specific timeline and must be achievable, Ballard said. She recommends using SMART, the popular acronym for setting specific goals. When setting a goal, make sure it meets these five criteria:
- Specific: Avoid vague aspirations with no detailed plan.
- Measurable: Make sure you can track progress.
- Attainable: Be realistic about whether can achieve the goal.
- Relevant. Don’t assign sales quotas that ignore new competitors or an economic downturn.
- Time-bound: Set a deadline for your goal.
7. Keep your workspace clean and uncluttered.
If you’re a stacker, put those files and papers behind you or out of view, Sexton said. “Those piles and stacks are talking to you all the time and draining your energy,” she said. Keep items on your desk that you use only on a regular basis.