When faced with frequently changing circumstances, flexibility and patience are the keys to remaining productive. It’s important to take time to reflect on the things that can help us be more efficient so that when unanticipated scenarios do occur, we’re better prepared to handle them. Here are a few ways to cross more items off your “to-do” list, keep tasks running smoothly and stay focused on your funeral business's long-term success.
1. Set reminders
Setting simple automatic reminders can help you keep track of the many tasks that need to be completed to serve families throughout the day. Automatic reminders can also help you monitor and manage long-term goals, and there are many ways to customize these reminders through your phone, calendar or other methods that work for your communication preferences.
2. Choose communication methods wisely
While many communications can be managed through texts and emails, some situations can be resolved more quickly through a phone call or video chat that ensures all staff members understand the situation and what is expected of them. This can save some back-and-forth messages asking for clarification. When working with families, be sure to ask about their communication preferences so your staff is able to easily contact them.
3. Document funeral home procedures
Many professionals have tasks they just know how to complete. But what happens if a significant amount of time passes before you need to tackle that task again or if you need to have someone else needs to fill in for you when you’re too busy to complete it? The result is often wasted time, or worse, errors and missed details. Be sure to document important procedures to make it easier the next time an unexpected situation occurs.
4. Designate backups
Beyond documenting the procedures, it’s important to know who is responsible for completing certain tasks when the person who typically completes them is unavailable. Be sure to cross-train the backup funeral home staff members on programs and processes so they’re ready to get started whenever they’re needed.
5. Make time for planning
During busy times, it can seem difficult to justify time spent on strategic planning for your funeral business. But intentionally setting aside time each week – and sticking with it – can help you focus on plans that will help you operate more efficiently and effectively. Need ideas to help you focus your planning efforts? Here are several steps your firm can take to better serve client families in the year ahead and beyond.
6. Eliminate Time Wasters
Even if you aren’t guilty of intentionally wasting time, you may find yourself participating in inadvertent time wasters. There are many tasks that funeral professionals must do on a regular basis, such as answering email and researching business-related topics online. Although these activities are necessary, sometimes they could be handled more efficiently. In order to improve your funeral business operation, eliminating things that take away from your productivity, such as unproductive staff meetings, interruptions and browsing the Internet, is a must.
Unproductive Staff Meetings
Meetings are a crucial part of any business. They bring people together to brainstorm ideas, make decisions for the company or recognize someone for a job well done. But, according to a survey posted by Atlassian, employees average 31 wasted hours in meetings per month.
What’s contributing to all of this wasted time in meetings? Many are considered “meetings about meetings” – meetings that are called to prepare for an upcoming meeting. These serve little purpose and are among the biggest time wasters for businesses. Often, a well-written email can be just as effective as a meeting without taking too much time.
Before setting a meeting, think to yourself, “What would this accomplish?” If you don’t have a clear purpose in mind, then you may not need to meet at all. If you do call a meeting, be sure to set an agenda with clear goals and give a copy to each person attending. Ask people to come prepared. This way, all attendees know what to expect, and it will be harder to deviate from the topic of discussion.
Phone calls. Emails. Facebook. Distractions are everywhere in the workplace and can be very hard to avoid. Little distractions can be okay at times. They allow your brain to recharge, refocus and come back ready for the task at hand. And talking with coworkers is a positive part of any successful team. However, too many of these interruptions can quickly diminish your productivity.
Email is a perfect example. You pick up your phone or sit down at your computer and open up your email. You respond to one, then another and then another. The next thing you know, an hour or more is gone and you haven’t accomplished anything you set out to do for the day. Email can be a vortex that is all too easy to fall into.
Organization is key in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Take the time to prioritize emails so those that require an immediate response (such as messages from client families) are at the top of your list. Email is a necessary part of any business, but without organization, it can be a big contributor to inefficient time usage.
The Internet can be a wonderful and dangerous thing. You need the internet to perform certain duties related to your funeral home business, from researching new vendors to updating your funeral home social media accounts. However, even those business-related tasks that require the internet can become a distraction if they take away from your task list for that day.
So how do you combat this? Make a priority list for the day and stick to it. Adhere to the schedules you set for yourself to complete specific tasks. By organizing your day based off of the priority list, you can help yourself stay focused. Save the low-priority tasks for later in the day. They require your attention, but not immediately.