Fifteen minutes before an arrangement conference is scheduled to begin, the phone rings. It’s a caller who is interested in advance funeral planning and has questions about the process. You owe a call to the florist to coordinate a delivery. Your cell phone buzzes… again. The “unread emails” notification on your computer beckons. Tasks accumulate and your to-do list grows ever longer.
Although research suggests our brains aren’t “wired” for multitasking, it’s often simply an unavoidable part of our lives. For funeral directors, the pressure of multitasking comes with the added stress of knowing each grieving family deserves complete attention. When faced with situations that require you to rapidly switch between tasks, here are a few tips to help you stay focused.
Some days, every task seems like a top priority. As new tasks come up, evaluate their true value and urgency relative to the work you’re doing at the time. Direct communications from families who want to discuss funeral plans – both preneed and at-need – require the quickest action. Being flexible about your other planned tasks can help keep stress to a minimum.
It’s important to have backup plans when coordinating events – and that includes having a backup for yourself. If you’re suddenly called away to attend to a more urgent matter, having a qualified person ready to take over for you can help avoid additional complications. Training and communication are critical in these instances to ensure your colleagues are ready to step up and understand what is expected of them.
When a day becomes stressful, it’s easy to overlook typical processes to confirm that facilities are booked, deliveries are scheduled and everyone is aware of the funeral service schedule. But double-checking these items on your list can save you from spending additional time correcting problems later.
If you do get a break after a busy time, take stock of how you and your colleagues handled the many tasks you were asked to perform. Was there an issue that could have been avoided if a different procedure had been in place? Is cross-training required to ensure additional staff members can take on tasks when the person who is usually responsible has more urgent priorities? Evaluating questions like these can help you work more efficiently during the next inevitably busy time.
What tips have you found helpful for ensuring services and funeral business operations continue smoothly (and your stress stays at a minimum) during busy times? Share your thoughts in the comments below.