Friday, April 07, 2006

Hyper-Organization – Welcome to Crazy Town

With some exceptions, I avoid writing about my business on this blog. But not today.

I underwent a somewhat major staffing change this week. Nothing scandalous, mind you. Just an employee moving on to greener pastures.

The first question that came to mind was “Who are we going to get to fill the position?”

But then I began to ask some fundamental questions: What’s the best way to get the work done? Might it be better to change the entire way we do things? And, to some degree, why don’t we not only change how we do things, but also change what we actually do?

So cha-cha-cha-cha changes are underway. The deck is being shuffled. There’s some short-term pain, but some positive changes are taking place. I see it as a real opportunity.

Job duties are being altered, including mine.

The first step was to get organized in an anal-retentive, border-line obsessive-compulsive kind of way – binders, charts, to-do lists, etc. etc.

This is a change from how I did things previously. In the past I’ve tried two methods.

One failed method involved creating a list of things that needed to be done. The list would begin with five items, grow to ten, then 20, then 30. Pretty soon, it was a massive list – a blur of small print in no particular order. These were all tasks that needed to be completed in addition to the regular tasks. Eventually, the list became overwhelming. It was like someone handing me a phone book and saying “Call these people.”

So then I switched to having either no list, or a very small list. I would arrive at the office, make a few calls and visit a couple clients. Sometimes I would arrive at the office with the knowledge that I should call someone, but was never sure who to call. Should I look in the phonebook? Should I drop in at a business? Who should I see? When was the last time I talked to them? What was that person’s name? Productivity remained low.

The new method involves having a manageable list of tasks – a mix of quick and easy ones, and more difficult ones. If I have five minutes of spare time, there’s a task on the list that I can squeeze in. If I have 30 minutes of time, there’s a task to fit that time block.

I spend time each night making the lists and planning them. They’re updated and revised. Charts are altered. Notes are made. In some ways, I’m treating myself like a computer that runs off punch cards. I make those “punch cards” the night before so I can operate accordingly. All the information, including names, phone numbers and previous file information, is right there in the binder. I even print out their previous ads so I can whip them out and speed up the process.

It’s super organized and, frankly, it’s not my normal modus operandi – welcome to Crazy Town.

But so far, it’s working. Within a couple days I contacted more than a dozen potential advertisers. I sold several ads, including some to new clients. I did a mass mailing.

I also started a new column, contacted numerous news sources, took photos, etc.

When I get through my daily list, I give myself the option of calling it a day, rather than piling on more work.

This is how it should be. Hard work and productivity should not be rewarded with more work! What the hell is that about?

This is something I learned while working at another newspaper. Part of my job was laying out pages on a computer. I would arrive at around noon and start laying out pages and often work until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. So I got an idea – what if I learned to work faster? So I mastered the computer program, concentrated and became very efficient. I shaved about two hours off the job.

So when I finished my pages, I would walk into the editor’s office and inform him of the good news – my pages were done! Now I could go home.

Wrong.

His response was “That’s great. Now you can lay out some more pages!”

My reward for working hard and being efficient was more work. Being that I was a salaried employee, there was no upside to this.

Now I’m self employed. That means I’m my own boss. As my own boss, I have a rule – if I get my work done early, I can stop working.

Well, at least in theory. So far, it’s been work, work and more work.

1 Comments:

Blogger OrangeElmo said...

Cut it out! You're inspiring me to at least straighten out my desk.

1:35 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Free Website Counter
Hit Counters