Visit Shruti at www.thehonestshruth.com
Learning to Be Bold and Plan Ahead to Make a Super Commute Work
Episode 39 of The Vendor's Daughter
I just had my first super commute from Austin back to the SF Bay Area. There are three things I did right and a few things I could have done better.
This episode is all about what I learned on this trip.
I just had my first week back in the Bay since we moved to Austin a little over a month ago. In true Jenny fashion I planned a little too much and didn’t get it all done but in general it was a really great trip both professionally and personally. There are a few things that made this a great learning experience for me, that helped increase my confidence that this whole working remotely thing is going to be great for me and for the family business. And a few things I realized I could do better.
Something to Know Before We Get Started
There are two things you should know before we get started which are: one, historically speaking I haven’t been a great planner, in fact too much planning actually gives me a lot of anxiety and two, when I do plan it looks a lot more like dreaming or hoping than actual thought out objectives.
For instance, on the plane ride home (a 3.5 hour flight), I envisioned I would be able to write the intros and outros for the podcast, edit a recent interview, finish two micro market layouts, complete all of our end of the month reports and create a service schedule for one of our mechanics.
You guys, EVEN IF the wifi on the plane was faster than dial up, there is no way I could accomplish all of that in three and a half hours. It’s impossible; or at the very least it’s impossible to do it well.
Although that has all bee true, it wasn't accurate this week. This week I was a master planner. I knew I had a limited time in the Bay, I was clear on the objectives I wanted to accomplish and I prioritized accordingly.
Knowing Where You're Going
For the first time in a long time I knew EXACTLY how I wanted to spend each day and I knew that in order to maximize my time I needed to block work my schedule.
What does that mean?
It means on Monday I knew I would be flying in from Austin early in the morning so I didn’t plan any meetings outside of the office. In fact, other than our staff meeting I didn’t plan anything other than catching up with team members and working on end of month reporting.
I scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday as days to be in the field meeting with customers and I scheduled Thursday to be a full day in house due to two separate all hands meetings that take place on the first Thursday of every month.
In addition to block scheduling my week, purposefully choosing days to be out in the field and days to be in house, I also did two other things I hadn’t previously done:
After a large meeting in SF on Wednesday, rather than jump directly to another meeting I scheduled time in between appointments for down time. I stopped at Blue Bottle, grabbed a latte, checked up on emails and then immediately followed up with the meeting notes and next steps required from the important morning meeting.
In the past I have PACKED my days full with back to back meetings and then expected that I would do the follow ups when I got back to the office or on my own time once I got home. But truthfully all that ever did was make me feel overwhelmed and gave me a bit of a victim syndrome. I would either begrudgingly do follow ups on my own time or complete them so much later in the week that I would forget key points and follow up tasks.
The last thing I did was be bold. In the past if I reached out to a customer and didn’t hear back from them, I would give them space and try again at a later time, not wanting to bother them. This week I didn’t have the luxury of patience, because it was either meet now or wait a month. In some instances when I hadn’t received a response from a customer I just showed up. I did a survey of the location making sure things looked the way they were supposed to and I left a goodie bag of new snacks not currently on their menu.
And you no what? Not one person was annoyed! In fact, everyone I actually saw face to face was grateful I had come by in spite of their lack of response.
Three Things I Did Right
Those are the three things I did right:
I planned using a block schedule
I scheduled follow up time or down time between meetings
I was bold, not waiting to hear back before moving forward to ensure a customer was getting the best customer service possible.
And as an extra bonus I also scheduled time to take care of my personal life when I was in town. In addition to a full work week I also managed to: see the doctor, get my hair done, get my eyebrows waxed, watch The Bachelorette with some friends, go to dinner and shopping with my mom and sister, see my sick grandma three times, and meet up with Iliana, the owner of As Kneaded Bakery in San Leandro for a podcast interview.
Things to Do Moving Forward
As great of a week as it was, and although I feel good about was accomplished, there are a few things I’ve learned that I can do better next time:
I need to share my agenda prior to my arrival, making sure my full team is prepared for the week I have envisioned and allowing time for feedback/revision in case I’ve overlooked something important
I still need to work on having more realistic expectations of myself. For instance, the things that didn’t get done include: paint the office, paint the women’s bathroom, inventory and catalog our pantry display racks.
Which is a perfect Segway to, delegate tasks more efficiently. While in town I went on an emergency product run, only to find out that our supervisor was only 10 minutes up the road and could have easily taken care of the customer’s needs. And did you know you can hire professionals to come paint, that I’m not actually a professional painter so why do I feel like I need to be the one who does it?
Come up with a clear plan for the last day. Today my flight left at 1pm which left me wondering how to spend my final hours in the Bay. I tried to divide and conquer, getting up early to spend a few hours at work and a few hours with family. But anytime you divide your attention something or someone suffers. I’m learning every so slowly the importance of prioritizing and really taking the time to consider what matters most
Finally, I didn’t eat great or exercise at all. I’d like to believe I could structure a day that included healthy eating and a thirty-minute workout so that as I’m building a business and a life I love my health doesn’t suffer because of it.
Now that I’m in Austin I’m going to try to implement block planning, down time, boldness, delegating and effective communication into my daily routine here.
If you have any tips or tricks on how you plan your week I’d love to hear them!