It’s Quitting Time, Put Those Scissors Down!
The coupon clipping business is like any other business, some days you’re in the weeds and some days you’re up a creek. But what’s a clipper to do? It’s your business, and it’s a time-sensitive business to boot. Your customers depend on you, so you can’t just say, “It’s quitting time, I’m outta here!”
Oh, yes you can… and you should!
Why you need time away from the clipping table
I think everyone will agree that running a successful small business means lots of long hours and hard work. I also think you’ll agree that once or twice a month you can barely drag yourself to the clipping table. The site of one more coupon will drive you over the edge!
When you reach the point of Ultimate Burn-Out that’s when you start making mistakes. Expiration dates are clipped off, envelopes are switched, addresses go wonky and the customer complaints start rolling in, all of which just adds to the list of things you need to take care of today.
When you reach Ultimate Burn-Out things also start going wrong around the house. Dinner gets burned, the kids are driving you nuts, the laundry starts stacking up. Nothing is going the way you planned and it’s because you’re so burned out on your business you can’t focus on anything.
Whether you like it or not – and I guarantee you WILL like it! – you need to take time off. And it needs to be regularly-scheduled time off that you can plan on. But who has time for that?!
Everybody works faster at quitting time
I worked as a bakery manager for 15 years, sometimes managing 30 to 35 people at a time, and one of the first lessons I learned was that everyone works faster, harder and smarter when it’s almost time to clock out for the day – even the manager.
As the manager I was scheduled to work from 8 AM to 4:30 PM but I rarely kept to that schedule. I’m one of those Type A overachievers. I’d come in at 4 AM with no plan for leaving at any particular time. I’d work alongside my team until everything was done. Sometimes I didn’t leave until 6 or 7 at night.
I had a few employees who were also Type A’s and they, too, would come in early and work late because we all wanted to have the best, most profitable bakery in the division.
And then the company started cutting back on overtime. Nobody was allowed to work more than 8 hours a day and if you were caught working off the clock you could be fired. Not only that, they started trimming the budget and put a freeze on hiring. Suddenly, we all had to accomplish a lot more in a lot less time.
And you know what? We did.
It became necessary for me to analyze everyone’s performance and see how we could make improvements and the first thing I noticed was that everyone put on a huge burst of speed about one hour before quitting time. Suddenly they realized how much more they still needed to get done (if they wanted to keep their job!) and how little time was left to do it.
And it occurred to me that we were all wasting a few hours every day because we waited until nearly the end of our shifts to kick ourselves into gear. If we worked like demons at the beginning of our shifts – when we were at our highest energy level – how much more could we accomplish and how much time could we save?
Quit Making Excuses
“I don’t have time for that!”
It’s a popular lament these days but it’s also a crutch. Everyone on the planet has the same 24 hours in a day. People all over the planet – even people who run their own businesses – have time to spend with family and friends and time to take a day off or even a whole week of vacation yet you can’t even find time to list all your new coupons before they expire. What’s up with that?!
If you keep telling yourself you don’t have enough time then you won’t feel guilty when you reach the end of the day and find you didn’t get everything done that you wanted to do.
Then, you’ll just add those uncompleted tasks to tomorrow’s list, which is already over-crowded, and you won’t get everything done tomorrow, either.
By telling yourself “I don’t have time” you’re letting yourself off the hook. You’re not forcing yourself to look at the reason WHY you don’t have enough time.
Top Three Reasons You ‘Don’t Have Enough Time’
Distractions: TV, Facebook, online games, your cellphone, your kids, housework, shopping for deals – the list goes on and on. Constantly watching your stats? Tracking every little miniscule detail you can think of? If it’s not productive – and it’s probably not – get over it and and get to work. Your stats don’t change that much from hour to hour, or even day to day. Check them once a week and move on.
Duplicity: If you’re tracking your business on six different spreadsheets you’re probably duplicating your efforts. Take a look at all of your business processes and streamline your operation.
Disorganized: It starts with your list of Things-To-Do, but it’s also important to have your life and your workspace organized. If you’re constantly running around like a chicken with your head cut off then it’s impossible to focus on any one task, and if your coupons and work area are disorganized then you’re wasting time trying to find things.
Schedule A Day Off
In my opinion this is the most important step but before you can schedule a day off you need to know what you want to accomplish throughout the week. In the coupon clipping business Monday and Wednesday seem to be the busiest days of the week but you also need to consider your personal and family responsibilities.
I take Sunday off – completely. Oh, I check emails and answer anything that’s urgent, but only two or three times a day and I limit myself to 15 minutes on the computer.
Sunday is the one day a week I’ve set aside for myself, to do whatever I please, and it’s made a world of difference to my business. I have time to spend with my family which eliminates those feelings of guilt that you subconsciously stress over during the week. I have time for my own hobbies and interests, things that take my mind off my business stresses for a while. And I have time to just lay around and rest up if it’s been an exceptionally long, tiring week.
On Monday I’m refreshed, my head is clear, and I’m ready, with renewed energy, to handle whatever this crazy business tosses my way.
Schedule a Quitting Time
Be flexible on your starting time if you must but schedule a quitting time and stick to it.
I generally start working at 4 AM every day. I always take a 20-minute break at 11 AM for a quick lunch, an hour break at 2 PM to watch General Hospital, and I always quit at the same time every day, around 4 PM after I close out orders.
On those days when I really have a lot to do I start earlier, rather than planning to work later. I’m a morning person and I find it’s easier to focus and work faster and harder early in the day. And having that 2 PM dealine in site keeps me moving forward. Plus, now that it’s become a habit I find I like knowing I’ll be able to stop thinking about ‘work’ at 2 PM and get back to having a life!
Quitting at the same time every day and taking a day off once or twice a week might seem counterintuitive if you’re always saying, “I don’t have enough time,” but it forces you to focus, get organized, and streamline your business. And once you do, you’ll be amazed at how much extra time you have to spend on things like promoting and growing your business.