Wednesday, December 22, 2010
originated by:Foxglove, Krystle, Eric, Anonymous
Assess everything that needs to be done. Before you plunge into it headfirst, remember that enthusiasm needs to be tempered with wisdom. Look over every aspect of the job, and allow yourself ample "pondering time" so that you can be sure that every detail is accomplished on time, and accurately.
Make an outline. Whether it's in your head or on paper, you should have a checklist in mind, and follow it to the letter, and in order - you don't want to repeat steps, duplicate the efforts of others, or make mistakes. Also, you definitely don't want to forget anything.
Consider your materials. Don't take shortcuts, when possible, on the quality of your materials. Cheap materials are harder to work with, because they aren't as sturdy or nice. Because they're harder to work with, they take longer to bend to your will. Remember that working smart means thinking about these things - in most jobs, the materials aren't where the majority of the costs are. It's the labor - the time needed to complete the job - that costs the company more money. Using inexpensive materials where they are easily installed makes sense. Trying to save a few bucks but spending an extra hour or two because those cheap things didn't install properly doesn't make any sense at all
Follow your plan and don't deviate from it - unless you must. Once you've assessed the job and come up with a plan, it's usually best to stick with the plan. However, things come up: a part doesn't fit, or it turns out it's not the best item for the job, someone gets sick, all sorts of emergencies can throw a wrench into your plan. Be prepared to think on your feet, and be resourceful. Nimble thinking is essential to working smart, especially when something goes wrong. Following a plan slavishly, in spite of new information, developments, or problems is just plain dumb. Be flexible and change if you need to
Delegate to the right people at the right times. Make sure your team is well-ordered. If one person is faster, put him or her on the part of your task that will take longest. If one person is more skilled and accurate, put him or her on the part of the task that is most critical.
Work parallel. This means that there may be four or five, for example, components to your job. Let's say you are a design and display company creating a display for a county fair. Your client wants a combination of signs, banners, flyers, and brochures, along with a booth design. You set your best designer in motion to design the copy and look of things, but meanwhile, you assign someone to procure what essential supplies you will need. So far, you could be having one of your people contact printers to get pricing for the number of flyers and/or brochures your client wants, and another to take an inventory of what sign and banner materials you already have on hand - vinyl or paint colors, banner sizes, pre-cut blanks. This way, once the client meeting is complete and you have a good idea of what is going into the installation, you can match it to your inventory and see if there are things on hand that you can use to get started, while someone else goes and gets the things you still need.
Control clients by communicating properly. Many times, it's hard to work smart because your clients will insist that their job is a big rush. Instead of scrambling to get that job done, make sure your clients understand in the initial meeting what your normal turnaround time for their job would be. If you know you will need two weeks, don't let the client squeeze you into one week unless that client is willing to pay extra for the rush. Most businesses have more than one client, yet many clients forget that their job is not the only one you're working on.
Never willingly trap yourself into accepting a bad job. You know when a job is going to be great. You also know when you get that "uh-oh" feeling that something is not right. A client or boss who pressures you into areas where you are not comfortable, either because it is an unreasonable expectation or because it's outside your scope needs to be aware immediately of your discomfort with the job as proposed. Make any misgivings clear instantly, and in front of others, if possible. If you are self-employed, declining a job like this is much smarter, even though it's so hard to let that money go when you depend on every job for your livelihood. Still, a client who doesn't pay because you didn't adhere to every jot and tittle of his demands (and some are just breathtakingly demanding) is not a good customer in the end, and if you work for hours and end up not being paid all or part of what you worked for - especially when you were sweating bullets over it the whole time - is not smart. And it's the hardest work you'll ever do.
Know when it's time for a re-bid. Don't make so many changes that you end up doing a much more complicated or expensive job than you bid for. Whether due to clients scheming to squeeze all they can from you for no extra money, or just due to their being unaware that such changes may alter the scope of the job so much that the original bid is no longer reflecting the actual materials used or work involved, if you allow yourself to continually be persuaded to "throw in" stuff, you're going to end up in the hole, and that's not smart. Instead, when you realize you're into new territory, stop work and draw up a re-bid, showing the entire job as originally envisioned, and overlay the scope of the new work. Let the client know that to proceed, it will cost $x more than the original bid. Or offer to stay on the job as originally bid, and stay with that price. It's the client's decision how much to pay. It's your decision how smart you want to be while you're working for him.
Work as hard and as efficiently as possible, and finish each job as quickly as you can. Hit every job with everything you've got. Getting it done quickly and efficiently - while you have the time - is much smarter than looking at the schedule and telling yourself you have three more days to get it done, and then going to a long lunch or off to play tennis or whatever. (Obviously, you can do this on occasion - it helps you stay fresher mentally if you allow yourself small rewards from time to time - but making it habitual means you are always leaving things until every second counts. Not smart.) You don't know what will happen tomorrow - you might come down with the flu. Figuring that you will need only one day to complete that job if nothing goes wrong and then sitting on it just because you can is dumb. If you end up getting sick, you might not even be well enough to finish on time, let alone early. Running out the clock on jobs when you don't absolutely need to can force a rush at the finish line, or worse, deprives you of opportunities you might not have otherwise.
Recognize the point of 'diminishing returns.' The above steps do not imply that you should work yourself to the point of exhaustion. You need to protect your health and the integrity of your job. Working yourself to a frazzle constantly makes you prone to mistakes. When you're so tired that you realize it's taking you twice or three times longer to do a job than normal, you need to call it a day. Rest at least a few hours, and come back fresher, so that you can be strong at the end of the job. Learn how to power nap
Finish strong. It's sooooo important! Being dead tired and sluggish at the finish line is not smart - it's foolish. Be sure that you are well rested at deadline time. On the day a client is expected to pick up his or her job, go over it with a fine-toothed comb - and this means checking the finished product against the original instructions, making sure they match up. Check it for accuracy and detail, make any adjustments, corrections or touch-ups well ahead of the time the client will arrive - if possible, have someone else double-check you. Making sure every last detail has been checked and re-verified will make you confident and calm when your client comes to pick up the job. You can present it proudly, knowing that everything has been done to ensure the client will be happy with the finished product. Your confidence spills over to the client, which also makes it easier to ask for that final payment - when you see the client smiling and appreciative of the work you've done for him or her. This works for any project you have to do in life.