Managing the madness
With the weather warming up and Christmas around the corner, the mad rush is about to begin! While it can be lucrative for builders, managing stress throughout this time is vital to your health – a prominent theme in this edition of Under Construction
Whether your customers are finally building a long-awaited deck, refurbishing their kitchen or adding a pool ahead of summer, chances are they’ll want it done ASAP.
Having all that work is likely good for your business, but is it good for you? This article covers three tried and true ways to reduce stress during the silly season.
Define and list
“I feel really stressed!” If you’ve ever had that thought, then don’t worry, you’re not alone.
However, it appears that the feeling of stress is exactly that: a feeling (unless there is a medical or physical cause).
Stressful feelings are preceded by thoughts. For example, if you think “there’s too much to do” or “I can’t cope,” then feelings of stress are likely to arise.
Conversely, if your thoughts are “I have plenty of time to do what I need to do”, it’s likely that you won’t feel the same level of stress.
With this in mind, a strategy to reduce stress is to change your thinking from non-coping to coping thoughts. One way to do this is to define or list everything that needs to be done as it comes up.
Estimate the time and resource it will take and compare that with what you have available. If you can make it work or fit it in, then add it to your to-do list. If not, add it to your waiting list and only add it to your to-do list when you have the capacity to get it done.
Much of our stress also comes from the feeling of being driven by the priorities of other people. Just because they want it done by a certain date, does not mean that you need to drive yourself to comply.
It’s nice to be able to meet other people’s expectations, but not essential. So don’t get caught out with a to-do list that’s impossible to complete. Start a wait list and let people know if they’re on it.
Pounds before pennies
“Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves” might be helpful in teaching a child basic financial sense, but it’s not very helpful in business.
For example, it doesn’t really matter if you have some small inefficiencies in your operational area (pennies) but heaps of forward work (pounds).
However, it’s worrying if you have wonderful efficiency but no forward work. When you are facing a busy time, it’s really important that you do not quit the activities that created your busy time in the first place.
For example, some builders have found a networking group like Business Network International very useful to get them started. Then, when they become busy, they drop their membership and quit the discipline of asking and looking for leads. They stop marketing in other ways and, as a result, their new business tails away.
When your business gets busy, you may not have time to market and sell in the same way as you did before. You may need to look for new ways, but it’s vital that you don’t stop, because that’s what got you to this stage.
Moreover, it’s when your business is busy and you are earning additional profits that you can afford to pay for new and additional marketing resources, which could well propel your business to the next level.
When you are busy, be resolute about looking after your marketing and sales strategies (the pounds).
One thing at a time
Possums get run over when they quit scurrying. If they’d kept to their initial plan of crossing the road and hadn’t let headlights interrupt their progress, they’d be more likely to survive.
Often, we get distracted in the same way when we get interrupted. Focus is lost and output drops. While you are still on your first task, you have started out on a second, then a third and so on.
At the end of the day, when you find yourself asking “what have I done today?” it’s often because nothing has been completed. This leads to “I can’t get everything done” thoughts and stress levels start to rise.
When you stay focused on the task at hand and see it through until it’s complete, you will fi nish more jobs and feel as though you are coping better. Don’t take that interrupting phone call – leave it until lunch time!
Switch off text and email notifications. Then, when you are replying to texts, phone calls and emails, give them your full attention until finished.
By putting these three steps in place now, you are likely to stay in better control of your workflow throughout the busy holiday season.
Graeme Owen, based in Auckland, is a builders’ business coach. Since 2006, he has helped builders throughout New Zealand get off the tools, make decent money, and free up time for family, fishing, and enjoying sports. www.thesuccessfulbuilder.com