My recommendation is to set up specific times to wear each hat. For example, you might set up your day in blocks like Printer A. From 9:00 to 10:00 could be your Estimator block, and from 10:00 to 11:00 could be your CFO/Accounting Clerk block. From 11:00 to 1:00 could be your Counter & Phones block, and from 1:00 to 3:00 could be your Sales Block. From 3:00 to 5:00 could be your General Manager block, and every Wednesday, you could put on your Strategic Planning hat for an hour as part of that block.
The basic idea here is that you put on each hat during specified times each day, and while you’re wearing that hat, you only do work that’s connected to that function of your business. In other words, if a General Manager issue comes up 30 minutes into your Sales Block, you don’t automatically put that sales work aside to deal with the new issue. Instead, you evaluate the urgency of the new issue, and unless it’s something urgent and important, you set it aside and deal with it next time you’re scheduled to put on your General Manager hat.
You might also think of this as a way to build two levels of prioritization into your typical day. On the “lower” level, you should prioritize the tasks that are connected to each hat. For example, you might have six things-to-do while wearing your CFO/Accounting Clerk hat today, and nine things-to-do while wearing your Sales hat. After ranking them in priority order, you might realize that the eighth item under your Sales hat is more important than the first item under your CFO/Accounting Clerk hat, which might lead you to an upper level decision to borrow some time from that particular hat today. Alternately, you might come to the end of the Sales block with a few things undone, but some more important issues to deal with under your General Manager hat. In that case, you move on, and pick up on those Sales activities tomorrow.
To summarize all of this, it’s probably not possible to keep yourself from drifting at least a little bit from all that you could be/should be doing in managing your business. And in management, the solution is not quite as simple as just pointing yourself into the wind. It is as simple as planning and prioritization, though, and I hope you’ll find my “block” and “hat” strategies to be effective ways to accomplish that.
Dave Fellman is the president of David Fellman & Associates, Cary, NC; a sales and marketing consulting firm serving numerous segments of the graphic arts industry. Contact Dave by phone at 800/325-9634, by fax at 919/363-4069, or by email at email@example.com. Visit his website at www.davefellman.com. See the ad for Dave’s products and services in this issue.