Don’t Plan for the Best

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Have you noticed that when you’re laying out your day or week, you always plan for 100% efficiency? If you have 5, 8 hour days, you plan to work all 40 of those hours and your efficiency is slated to be 100%. Sounds like a plan that will grow your business by leaps and bounds, right?

While this sounds like a business plan sure to yield big money, let’s introduce reality back in to your calculations. As a human being, is this practical? Is it practical for you and is it practical for your employees?

The answer is no, it isn’t. In an 8 hour day, it may be possible to have your store open and have sales people selling goods all of those eight hours but if you’re more service-based (web designer, writer, producer) it is simply unrealistic.

What kinds of tasks derail your peak efficiency? You’re going to have tasks related to running the business that have to be tended to. Maybe you have paperwork to complete in order to register your business with the state. If you’ve ever done that, it could take half your day if you’re trying to go it alone. How about a phone call with a client that should have been 10 minutes but ended up taking an hour? Make your list and figure out how much time was robbed from last week’s “40 hours of peak efficiency” and you’ll probably find much less than 40 hours.

Don’t forget the human distraction factor. Maybe you’re one of those people who can work non-stop with no break and short of a natural disaster, no external force will move you from your office. If that’s you, realize that you’re the minority. Most people, including your employees, will take mini-breaks. Restroom breaks, grab a water out of the fridge, stop and talk to somebody, get a call from home or their child’s school. It’s not realistic to ask an employee to be fully engaged at peak efficiency for an entire work day.

Here’s the point: You must plan your day and your project load around the realistic workflow of your company. As you know, missing a project deadline isn’t an option so first, set accurate expectations with your clients. If a project will take 8 hours, don’t give them a time frame of 1 business day because a true working day isn’t 8 hours.

Here’s another option: If you find that small tasks are taking up a lot of your productive time, hire somebody. You have expertise that makes you perfect for completing tasks that make your company grow. You can pay somebody a fraction of the money you’re paying yourself to file paperwork and answer phones. Remember to factor in the value of your time when making projections.

Bottom line: Don’t plan for 100% efficiency. You will never get there unless a computer can do 100% of your company’s tasks. Be realistic and have realistic expectations of your employees. Happy employees are always more productive, right?