May 31, 2011

What Keeps You Up at Night?

By Paul Bieber

Is it cash flow? Is it getting new business? Is it a personnel quagmire? Is it a personal or family problem? Is it all of these?

I am the kind of a guy who needs a full eight hours of sleep, and usually nine. I am so jealous of people that live on four or five hours a night. They have so much more time to worry! But I do get restful sleep and don’t worry about my problems. Here’s a couple of tips to forget your troubles for eight hours a night. No, my blog has not changed to a medical advice chat. But we can look at ways to help clear your mind and get that problem solved.

Keep an active ‘To-Do’ list on your desk, your computer or iPad. Once your write a problem or an idea down on paper, ignore it until you get back to your desk. Put it out of your mind. This takes practice. Force yourself to think, “It is on my list, and I will get to it when I get to it.” This really works if everyday you spend some time on your list. It may only be fifteen or twenty minutes, but you will cross items off your list.

Also, keep a pad of paper and pencil next to your bed. When you wake up at night thinking of a particular idea or problem, write it down. Don’t stay up hoping to remember it for the morning. Write it down, get it out of your mind now, and look at it when you get up.

  1. Now that you have a to-do list with, let’s say, 30 items, let’s rate them as easy-to-do, a pain-in-the-neck, or a no-sleeper.
  2. Knock off the easy ones ASAP. Let’s say you have fifteen left, of which five are the no-sleepers.
  3. Keep telling yourself it is on your list and you will get to it when you get to it. Take one of the five and invest time and energy to solve it. If you can’t solve it (and there will be ones you can’t solve…accept it), move on.

What about the one problem that keeps you up the most? Talk to your business advisers, be it a key customer or vendor, your accountant, banker or lawyer, or call in a consultant. If the problem is bothering you so much, then use every resource you can. Define the problem in its most basic form, break it into manageable sub problems and solve the parts. You may not solve the whole problem in one flash of insight, but you can nibble away at all of the parts making the problem conquerable. Just about every problem is solvable. But whether it is worth the resources to solve it is the key. Keep in mind that every problem you are having has probably been encountered by someone else in our glass industry. Ask your business advisers…don’t be embarrassed to ask…and you will get good answers!

Don’t let the no-sleepers rob you of energy to run the business. If you come to work dragging your backside, you will not be efficient, you won’t work safely, and you’ll set a lousy example for your team.