2019 Resolutions – Get your Freaking Day Back

As we ease into the year, some have already given up on New Year’s Resolutions, some are waning, and some are still diligently plugging away at it.  Congrats to those of you still at it – keep going!

There’s one resolution that I think many executives have, but few achieve consistently, and that is to reclaim your workday. How many days have you filled with endless meetings, email, conference calls and other activities that don’t necessarily move the needle on your company and its growth?  And, more pointedly, how many executives WANT to do the heavy lift and work on the strategy of their company?

It’s easy to knock out emails and feel like you’ve accomplished something.  It’s easy to run around from meeting to meeting and tell your spouse how “busy” you were when you get home.  I’ve done both.  There are times when nothing feels better than an inbox of less than 10 emails or a long day of connecting with people to feel like you’ve achieved something.  But did you do anything that will create growth?

My best advice to those that consistently suffer from this syndrome is to reclaim your work day.
How?

  1. Determine Your Timing
    Figure out when you are your most creative and productive.

    • A great book on this subject is “When” by Daniel Pink. I’m an early bird and my peak is in the morning.
  2. Block & Guard Your Time
    Guard that time like the future of your company is riding on it. Don’t schedule meetings during this time, don’t be readily available to your employees, don’t answer emails.  Again, this isn’t feasible every workday, but it should be feasible for the majority.  You should OWN your schedule.
  3. Claim Your Space
    Figure out what environment makes you most productive and creative and get in it!

    • For me, its home office, windows open and bright, classical or instrumental music on softly (thank you Spotify), old fashioned paper to sketch out ideas or my laptop with Outlook turned off. Phone on Do Not Disturb.
  4. Block Out Thinking Time
    Give yourself time to generally think.

    • Yes, your thoughts will be all over the place, but you may find inspiration on your next blog, a new product, a client you should target, a key exec you should woo or a competitor you should watch.
    • I must write things down immediately when they come, or I’ll forget them. I’ve learned I have zero memory the hard way.
  5. Use the Time Wisely
    • It is usually unrealistic to carve out 8 hours of thinking time (or it’s stressful as you don’t know what’s blowing up). Instead, carve out 2 hours.  Or try just one and push yourself to increase.
    • Figure out what you need to work on and then get it done. Need to begin a product development?  Start sketching it out.  Start writing.  Start brainstorming.  Honestly, what it is, is less important and JUST START.
  6. Know When to Stop
    When you’ve run out of gas, stop. Return to the emails, conference calls, etc.  Plan for the next time that you will do this (hopefully the next day) so you train yourself to be as productive as possible during this time and to look forward to it.
  7. Delegate
    Your job (whether you like it or not) is to steer the ship. Everyone is looking to you for the grand master plan.  Shirking this responsibility speaks to your leadership.  If you can’t lead, find someone who can.

    • Delegate to your team, cross-train so there is coverage, utilize outsourcing where possible, and in general, get the everyday crap off your plate where you can.

With a little consistency and practice, you will reclaim your days.  And your company will be much better off because of it.

While determining, blocking and capitalizing on your time may be individual tasks, BOOST LLC is ready for game-time. We can assist with your back office needs in regard to accounting, contracts, human resources, recruiting and strategic pricing. Let’s find time to discuss how you can get your day back ASAP. [email protected].

5 Pricing Tips for the New Year

As we enter a new calendar year, we begin the madness of sharpening our budgets and pipelines.  Some of the focus ends up being on managing expenses and headcount, as it should, but often some quick and easy planning can help you to optimize your pricing strategy for the next year.

To get you started, here are five pricing tips for the new year:

  1. Contract Labor Bill Rate Review
    Have you had any staff turnover on your firm fixed price or time and materials contracts? If so, you may be able to capture some labor efficiencies by “greening” those positions and/or consolidating functions under higher bill rate positions. BONUS TIP: This is especially helpful if the contract is up for a re-competition and you’re the incumbent.
  2. Cost-Plus Contracts
    If your Cost-Plus contract is coming up for a re-compete, review all of the direct labor rates, and examine them against market rates (such as a survey or government rate data such as Bureau of Labor Statistics).  Bid market rates, NOT current employee rates.
  3. Subcontract Review
    Are there opportunities to bring in new subcontractors of the same quality/scope, but with better rates? This might be dependent on teaming agreements and workshare commitments. If the contract allows it, develop an active strategy around subcontractor selection and rates every year.
  4. Overhead & Infrastructure Review
    Facilities – this is a big one. Are there opportunities to renew different types of leases/facilities?  You may want to explore the trend of shared/co-working spaces. This solution can provide a lot of cost efficiencies if your contract/company policy allows it. Telecom expenses are also a major player. There are a multitude of new options that minimize the telecom costs for entire companies through third-party vendors and resellers, or cost sharing with other companies. Do your homework and save your company money in the long run.
  5. Beef Up Your Back Office Support
    Can you outsource major functions such as accounting, HR, recruiting, contracts? Believe it or not, this is becoming a good option for many mid-tier contractors. Use this opportunity to get lean without sacrificing quality and compliance standards.

The tips above are not a one-and-done type of deal. You should be reviewing internally each year as you plan operations and execution of contracts for the new year.  While much of this is common sense, seldom is it applied to affect pricing strategy/updates.  Use this information to bid sharper and smarter than your competitors and get the edge in pricing!