How To Plan For Daily Problems In A Small Business

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I’m definitely not the first person to realize it. I’m sure I read about it somewhere about seven or so years ago. Maybe I heard it on a podcast back then. I’m not entirely sure.

But life is going to throw you little problems every day. It happens in your personal life. You get sick. Your kid gets sick. The dog gets sick. All of sudden your routine is thrown off. You’re late for something. Things start snowballing and you basically lose the day.

This also happens at work. You’re going about your day. You’re getting things done. Then a client or the boss or a coworker comes in and asks you do “just one thing”. Now your day is thrown off. Maybe you’re able to get back on schedule by the end. But by then you’re probably asked to do a few more little things. Add that up over a week and you’re really behind on the priority list. If you have one left at all.

Now say you manage or own a business. This occurs 100x it seems. Running a business is putting out fires. Much like parenting a toddler. A business, like a toddler, is always falling down or breaking things or making big messes. You never know exactly what will happen, but you know it will never be 100% smooth during any given day.

So what can you do?

Create Time For Problems

You never know exactly what will happen. And even if you do have recurring problems it can be difficult to know exactly when they will happen. But look back over the last few months and you can see a recurring pattern of problems in general. Things that come up that are surprising.

Build time into your schedule for general problems. It could be an hour a day. It could be a half hour a day. It could be even more. It probably depends on your occupation. Some have more surprises. Others have less. Take the time to go back and consider all the things that occurred in the recent past and look at the time it took to get things back on track.

If you have a boss and they’re wondering why you say no to some of their requests, mention that you leave time for surprises each day or each week. If they ask for more details then walk them through your review. And then explain that you explaining to them this fact is another “surprise” time killer that came up.

Audit Every Few Months

It’s not easy to get into new routines and schedules. What can be even trickier is making sure you audit your routine every few months. Because things will creep in. You will let certain things slide without even realizing it. This occurs all the time with diets and exercise routines. We know about those.

But it also happens with work. Quite often. We set a schedule. We start out pretty good. But then new seeming priorities come up. Some seemingly urgent things occur. Those things move in. Other things move out. It could be for the best, but often it’s not.

So this is a recurring effort. Leaving time for surprises. Because it’s easy to have a pretty good week with few surprises and then to add in new tasks to fill the void. We’re not good with voids. We like to fill the space we have.

Final Thoughts

Making time for surprises seems obvious. But it’s not easy to do. But most days there will be some kind of surprise. And it makes it less stressful to deal with knowing you have at least some “extra” time on your schedule for it. And if for some reason you accumulate some extra time, spend it on family or on a hobby or visiting with employees or whatever. But don’t let it become a regular thing. Because new challenges are likely right around the corner.

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