It’s 3am and I spring out of bed and head for my computer. I have tried not to do this. I have attempted to trick myself into thinking if I don’t get out of bed that I will remember the idea that danced across my dreams without writing it down. That never worked. I always forget it unless I email it to myself or my staff at the office. They must think I am literally out of my mind with these random emails that may only make sense to me the next day.
I am not the best morning person, so when the actual alarm clock, not a nutty notion or brainstorm, wakes me up at 7:30am I need to get right out of bed… no snooze button for me. Once I am up, I’m wide awake and firing on all cylinders to get the day going. On the rare occasion I am around to put my kids on the bus, it’s always a good start to the day—assuming they are not fighting about something.
The 20 mile ride to the office usually takes about 35 minutes and I usually use this time to make follow up calls. Not anymore. A few days ago, I was texting and driving and narrowly avoided an accident. Multi-tasking is over rated and I am doing my best to eradicate it on the road.
As I arrive at the office, most staff members are already humming along, keyboards clicking away all so they can service the thousands of clients we help each week. I still get a kick out of seeing it all work, especially remembering the company’s humble beginnings.
As I stride up the stairs I am thinking about what my assistant has planned for the day and what’s on the list to be accomplished for today. My VP of operations calls with a significant client issue that I need to get involved with. This does not happen that often, as my experienced staff adeptly handles most issues. This one is quite sensitive as the client has bounced a payroll and owes us $30,000. After some coaxing, we managed to get the owners to use their credit cards to make good on the debt, which doesn’t always happen. But part of being an entrepreneur is taking risks like these.
The morning moves at a brisk clip. Another coffee by 10am and some phone calls to check up on a few clients produce interesting results. I make it a point to call current clients randomly to make sure they are satisfied. Yes, I have staff members that do this as a full time job, but there is nothing like directly communicating with a customer and keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the marketplace. I chatted with a restaurant owner before their lunch rush and he was lamenting about the ridiculous new labor laws and how he will not be able to run his place profitably. I spoke with a toy store owner that had a good holiday season, but is still having challenges competing with the big box stores. I am not surprised that the conversation about their payroll is brief. They want to talk about real business issues. I hope they see me as a resource; I certainly want them to get more value from me.
Unless I have a lunch meeting, I take lunch at my desk. I generally catch up on emails and respond to the ones that require an answer. I am doing a book talk in Birmingham, Alabama later in the week and I spent time going over the video, text, and flow of the talk. I have given this talk many times, but I still like to over-prepare for a public appearance.
The afternoon is gone. Where did it go? After a meeting with my sales team, a couple of hand written thank you notes and a quick meeting with my customer service manager about a new service model idea she has, I head out to the cramped parking lot, navigate my way through the scattered cars, and head back home. The entire ride I am thinking about what I got accomplished today, what ideas may come to me tonight, and all the things on my plate for tomorrow and the rest of the week.
I think I need to do a better job at feeling a sense of accomplishment on that drive home. I suspect those of you reading this don’t acknowledge what you accomplished, either.
Here are three simple ways to get the sense of accomplishment from your day that you need to get up and do it again tomorrow:
1. Take 30 seconds and say it out loud. You only need that much time at the end of the day or on the commute home to say it out loud or in your head if that makes you more comfortable. “I did a good job today and am happy about the outcome.”
2. Write down what you accomplished for the day. Take a couple of minutes to write down or even email yourself a few important or time sensitive things you accomplished during the day. At the end of the week, you have a nice series of emails recapping your week and helping you benchmark how productive you were.
3. Tell a close friend. As long as it’s not bragging, sharing what you’ve accomplished for the day helps you affirm your sense of accomplishment, and often they offer great ideas or tips on how to do something better. Plus, sometimes it’s just nice to share your day with someone.
Small business expert Rob Basso is the founder of BassoOnBusiness.com, a web-based community dedicated to inspiring the entrepreneurial spirit and getting American businesses back on their feet. He is the president and owner of Advantage Payroll Services, the region’s largest independently owned payroll provider, and the author of The Everyday Entrepreneur. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure to purchase your copy of The Everyday Entrepreneur today!