I worked for a company where my boss always said, “If it’s important it will bubble up to the surface and we’ll tackle it then”. What I didn’t realize at the time, this only works as a strategy when you are staffed to excess capacity. Most of our businesses are not and if we waited until everything became important, then we’d put ourselves in the position where everything would be due now and everything will get done late. In addition, if you’ve ever been working long enough, you experienced the situation where something occurs, you figure you can get to it later, then sure as heck, someone needs that “something” right now. It never fails.
What I’m talking about in general is “manage your own schedule”. Don’t let others manage your schedule. If someone asks for something to be done, pin them down on when they want it. If you find you are going to be late on a commitment, figure out when you CAN get it done and tell the customer as soon as possible. If an event occurs on a routing basis, talk to your customer ahead of time to verify the routine demand will continue and schedule it to be done. Lastly, if a new demand begins appearing on the horizon, manage it to YOUR schedule. Don’t wait for the customer to call. If you don’t do any of the above, I can guarantee demands will fill up from others and you will have no flexibility to build a schedule that meets your needs as well as the customer’s.
On a personal level, life will be so much easier if you manage your own schedule proactively. You’ll find that 95% of the other people you encounter do not manage their own schedule proactively and you’ll be at their beck and call and have to respond to their panics all the time.
There will be times when you have to respond to last minute requests and panics but remember the cliché, “The lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part”. If you manage your customers for them as well as for your own benefit, everyone will be successful and you’ll have lower blood pressure. In addition, being proactive also means reviewing your to-do list for tomorrow before you go home as well as double checking it again when you start your day. Do this also and you’ll sleep a lot better too.
You will run into situations where your leaders are not proactive. What you do here is when asked to do something, pin them down when they want it. If they refuse or are vague, give them a date that fits your schedule, tell them, and document their acceptance. If they later on want it done earlier, then ask them what would they like to give up to get their request done. Again document their acceptance.
DO NOT EVER PUT YOURSELF IN A POSITION WHERE YOU HAVE TO DO 60 HOURS OF WORK IN 40 HOURS BECAUSE YOUR LEADERSHIP REFUSES TO DEAL WITH IT!!!
You may get fired because they get mad over it or because things can’t get done because of their lack of leadership but you would not and could not work there long term anyhow or your health will get ruined. At the very least, put up with it long enough to find a new job and GET OUT OF THERE!!!
Memo to Leadership: I’m like a spring. Squeeze me too tight and for too long and I’ll spring back or break. Either way we both lose. Work with me and I’ll work with you.