5 Ways to Build Momentum For Busy Season
One of the great things about the summer months of the year is that things tend to slow down to a crawl, particularly in the world of business. After the break-neck pace of January through May when you're trying desperately to meet your goals and beat those deadlines, you finally have some time to breathe. Those light nights turn into early ones as you make time to get home, spend some time with the family and really enjoy the best that Mother Nature has to offer.
Then, as it always does, September rolls around once again. And suddenly you're looking at a completely different story.
The good news is that not only are you not alone, but the issue isn't nearly as pressing as it may seem. There are a number of key tips and tricks that you can use to help build momentum for the upcoming busy season effective immediately.
1. Take Stock of Where You Are
One of the major productivity-related challenges as you enter any busy season has to do with that overwhelmed feeling you get when there's suddenly a massive volume of work to be done. The most important thing that you can do at this point is to resist the urge to have a panic attack. Stop, take a deep breath and reassess what actually needs to be done and when.
Take an afternoon to really get your priorities in order. Organize all of your upcoming tasks and projects based on things like due date, importance and more. Put things in a real, quantifiable order that lets you properly emphasize time-sensitive issues so that you know where to start and, most importantly, what can wait.
Look at your show schedule: Does it still make sense? Are you valuing the shows properly and spending accordingly? Are there overlaps that inhibit your — or your team’s — ability to perform? What would be a perfect schedule?
2. Reassess Where You're Going
Along the same lines, another one of the most important steps you'll want to take heading into a busy season involves taking a few minutes to re-confirm your primary business objectives for the rest of the year. You may think you know what “success” looks like, but remember that the weather isn't the only thing that will be changing heading into September. Your business is likely in a very different place than it was on January 1, so priorities from back then may not be identical to the priorities you have moving forward. Make sure you take a bit of time to realign your own workflow with your current objectives to help guarantee you're actually headed in the right direction, so to speak.
Prepare your budget: Get next year’s budget out early, and ask for everything you want and need — before anyone else gets the chance to. You’ll have more time to fight for what you want and get management listening to your needs — first.
Study your costs: Break open the books and look at your spending. Are you on target, or will you have to go and ask for forgiveness — and more money? Does your spending represent all aspects of your program fairly? Are you consistently putting off an area that really needs attention?
3. Get Back Into Your Routine
Perhaps the biggest reason why the September busy season can often feel overwhelming has to do with the fact that the routine you relied on so heavily during those early months of the year has effectively been shattered. As a result, if you want to build a solid foundation of momentum that will carry you through to the rest of the year, “ground zero” for that goal becomes either getting back into your original routine or establishing a brand new one moving forward.
It doesn't actually matter WHAT your routine and schedule actually are – do some self analysis and find the processes that work best for you. However, once you DO establish a routine, do whatever you need to in order to stick to it as much as possible.
Sign up for seminars, industry enrichment: Look at the calendar and map your openings. Then, take advantage of early registration and take some mind-expansion courses. Once they’re in your planner, it’s easier to defend the commitment over other, last-minute issues. (Of course, there are always some of these.)
4. Set Agendas
When the September busy season rears its ugly head once again, the last thing you have time for is aimless productivity that feels like you're getting something done, but in reality you're just spinning your wheels. Take meetings, for example – if you're not careful, those first few September meetings can quickly turn into little more than sharing information that people either don't explicitly need to know, or that people already know and you're just treading the same water over and over again.
One of the most important things you can do in this regard is to set agendas for just about everything. If you're going to be having a meeting, it needs to justify its own existence. Let everyone know what you'll be talking about, how they should prepare, when the meeting starts and when the meeting is over. Wasted time is not a luxury you can afford right now.
Evaluate your internal team: Are all the players on your team “keepers?” Is it time for you to do some trading? Should you institute some mid-year reviews to keep everyone on his or her game? Are your internal clients making reasonable requests, or are they stretching the limits on you, your department and your budget?
5. Stop Focusing on Outcomes. Instead, Focus on Processes
As work continues to pile up on your desk, one of the traps that it is far too easy to fall into involves placing all of your emphasis on the outcome of your day. If you want to complete X, Y and Z tasks by a certain time and you only manage to accomplish X and Z, you leave your office at the end of the day feeling like a complete failure.
However, sometimes there just aren't enough hours in a day to effectively accomplish X, Y and Z at the same time. Try as hard as you want, this will always be true. So the best thing you can do is focus less on the outcomes and more on the processes you take to get there. Look for ways to eliminate waste from your workflow wherever possible and always make an effort to streamline things as much as you can. It may take you an extra day to complete Y than you'd wanted, but what you'll be left with is a personal workflow that will make it easier to complete A, B and C next week and beyond.