Thursday, 19 March 2015 00:00

Putting First Things First

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If you are anything like me you are probably wondering, “WOW, where has this year gone already!?”

It’s amazing how quickly time can slip by and then you realize you haven’t really made the progress on the goals you have set for yourself or worse yet haven’t set aside the time to create goals in the first place. You no doubt have been very busy working in your shops, it is the “nature of the business.”

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That is what I want to talk to you about today. This supposed “nature of the business” might as well be called “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”….insanity right? It is indeed, but that is exactly what most of us do EVERY DAY. It upsets me to watch it, because I was guilty of inadequate time management for a large part of my body shop career. I constantly found myself attending to whatever situation screamed the loudest and while doing so, perpetuated even more problems to attend to. I was young and didn’t mind at the time, in fact I kind of prided myself on my ability to fight fires all day long and “make things happen.” The problem was I wasn’t making things happen at all. I was simply creating a vicious cycle of unnecessary activity that later on contributed to the loss of my business!

In the early 1990s I was introduced to a book called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. This book changed my life as it has the thousands or millions of others that have read it. There are two habits that are especially meaningful to me. Begin with the End in Mind and First Things First.

Begin with the End in Mind is just as it sounds. You visualize your funeral. What will people say about you at your funeral? So by being clear on what you want to accomplish in life and what you stand for and want people to remember you for is pretty much what you need to get working on now. Before it’s too late!

First Things First explains the time-management methods used to keep you on track towards the goals, values, and vision you have for your life. Only by truly knowing what it is you want in life (Begin with the End) and then setting goals and plans for achievement will you break the cycle of madness that many of us continue to struggle with.

I have created a four quadrant time management matrix that is based on Covey’s work. Which quadrant do you find yourself spending the most time? The idea is that if you spend a lot more of your time pursuing activities in quadrant 2, you will be working on the right things and thereby reduce the activities that occur in quadrants 1 and 3. Avoid quadrant 4 altogether.

Quadrant 1 (Urgent and Important)

Pressing Problems

  • Expediting due to missed deadlines
  • Dealing with angry customers/ins. Co.
  • Dealing with missing/wrong parts
  • Rework
  • Some phone calls
  • Some meetings
  • Stoppages in production

Quadrant 2 (Not Urgent, Important)

  • Calling customers
  • Documenting activities
  • Improvement projects
  • Relationship building
  • Some meetings
  • Problem prevention
  • Safety prevention
  • Planning
  • Damage analysis
  • Mirror matching
  • Updating system information
  • Inventory management

Quadrant 3 (Urgent, Not Important)

  • Interruptions
  • Some phone calls
  • Some emails
  • Some meetings
  • Some reports

Quadrant 4 (Not Urgent, Not Important)

  • Trivia & Busywork
  • Irrelevant emails
  • Some phone calls
  • Time wasters
  • Smoking
  • Playing on the internet

I implore you to read Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People or even better there is a book entitled First Things First that really expands on this idea of prioritizing your life. Life is too damn short to be chasing your tail. It’s time to get to work on things that really matter. Read these books, or call me if you would like help organizing and helping you and your organization create the values, vision, and, goals necessary to live the fulfilling life that is truly possible. It is possible even in the collision repair industry!

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