We’ve talked before about how we are tracking our time in order to better understand how this business works. If you haven’t read that piece, it may be a good place to start before reading further. You can read it here.
Today, we want to expand on that and show how we are tracking our individual days and share what insights we are pulling from that data.
We’ve gone ahead and blurred all the text to protect client privacy.
Each colored block represents an hour. We try to keep tasks within 1/2 hour increments to a.) make our data collection easier and more consistent and b.) keep us focused on the tasks at hand. The white rivers between each block is a weekend. You can see that we occasionally put in time over the weekend, but we do our best to avoid that.
Our secret color code!
You can already start to see patterns. There are days that are primarily client time. There are also times where we are going on a sales push and other times that we are working on brand development. These are all productive tasks that help increase our revenue, brand recognition, and customer satisfaction.
The purple blocks of personal time are indeed personal activities during the work day (getting lunch with a friend, walking to and from downtown, or tinkering on a side project), but they can also represent productivity blocks. A productivity block is either when work just simply isn’t getting done or busy work is occupying our time instead of other activities that can help add value to our operation.
These two days sucked.
As you can see, two days were plagued with two hour productivity blocks. We attempt to manage all of our work within an eight hour work day, which means that this was a loss of 25% of our productive time that day.
a.) We were experiencing a sales slump. All of our client work was done, our previous sales efforts were not working as well as they previously had been, and it was hard to come up with productive tasks that would increase revenue rather than incur additional expenses.
b.) Both of these productivity blocks came from previous days of being very productive. Having a slow day threw us off and we had a hard time managing the lull in business.
c.) Both activities occurred after lunch. We had spent the morning on both days doing brand development and sales efforts, and by the time the afternoon rolled around we were a bit fatigued with those activities.
How did we correct this?
These two days were better.
We continued with our sales efforts by literally driving further to meet with clients we weren’t reaching previously. We did some pro bono work to help individuals out and sharpen our skills. We built a simple app just to see if we could and to see if that would be a valuable service for our clients. We woke up earlier, chased more leads, and drank more coffee.
The Firedove team implements a simple idea when facing a productivity block.
What is the most expensive, dangerous, and illegal way we can solve a problem we are facing?
Our problem was that we didn’t have any client work at the moment. After you run through the most absurd of solutions and the creativity starts flowing again, it’s easier to come up with reasonable solutions to the problem.
Ultimately, somedays are not going to be as productive as others. That’s just a fact of life and business. What we can do is try to come up with more efficient and meaningful ways to break those productivity barriers.
Next time you are faced with a creative dilemma, try thinking about the most expensive, dangerous, and illegal solution. It might just jumpstart some new ideas.