3.) The next step in the action plan process is to analyze, prioritize and cut your list down. What actions are absolutely necessary and effective to achieve your goal? What action items can be dropped from your plan without significant consequence? Remove the latter ones from your list.
4.) The next step is the assignment of the people that will follow up with the strategy. This would include you as the manager asking for feedback and reports on a weekly or biweekly basis; salespeople continually focusing on the objective and reporting both success and roadblocks; perhaps even involving other personnel (such as periodic calls from your plant manager or commodity buyers to prospective customers) to involve them in the process.
All of the myriad tasks associated with managing your grain and feed business do not have equal value — particularly if you look at them in terms of your Personal Return on Investment (ROI). We often think about ROI for investment of your dollars in an asset. However, Susan Ward, an online blogger who writes about management, says we can use this same concept to look at what you get in return for time spent on different activities.
With the above in mind, think of all of the different management related tasks you do in a week. List them if you need to or take several weeks to track how much time you spend on different types of "jobs." Once you have done this, attempt to categorize these tasks by type — personnel, advertising, sales and marketing, merchandising of grain, financing, etc. Then, tally the number of hours by type and then determine the "cost" of these activities. If you spend 10 hours/week (average of 2 hours/work- day) on advertising, and your salary is $75,000/year (approximately $36.00/hour — assuming 52 weeks at 40 hours/week), then the cost of this activity is $360/week or $18,720/year.
The point of this exercise is this: Would it be more profitable or productive for your company to outsource this activity? Hire someone part-time to perform this task? Delegate this responsibility to another employee in your business who is "under-employed" from a time standpoint, or paid less (as you have $18,720 that you could potentially pay to have this work done)? This frees you up to focus on more relevant, bigger issue projects or goals, which makes better use of your time.
One strategy that we as humans employ is that we develop habits. Habits occur when we routinely or repetitively do something. Sometimes this can be bad — as in chewing our fingernails when we're nervous — and then you end up doing it all the time, and this bad habit is hard to break. However, the opposite is also true. That if we are careful, we can find routines that are time-saving, which can become good habits.
Marcia Ramsland, author of the book Simplify Your Time: Stop Running and Start Living, recommends several daily time-saving habits. She offers the advice that you can cut your work in half by putting things away NOW instead of putting them down to come back to later. This applies to mail, files and handling e-mails. One of the biggest time wasters is to say, "I'll deal with it later." Thus, she says that it pays to put everything away now! She also suggests setting the pace for your day by arriving early or at least on time at your first event. We agree with her when she says, "Have you ever noticed that your arrival time at the first event sets the pace for the rest of your day?"
Setting Time Limits
A good way to help manage your time is to set time limits for certain tasks. Some tasks tend to expand if we do not limit the amount of time we allocate to them. For example, while e-mail is certainly an important and effective communication tool, it can also consume a lot of time. Some experts suggest setting a limit of one hour a day for this task. Restricting the amount of time you are willing to dedicate to certain projects can help you become more aware of time spent, and hopefully help you become more efficient.
Another strategy that can be quite effective is to estimate beforehand the expected amount of time for a given activity. Then structure your day so that you must complete the activity in that period of time. For example, preparing documents for a meeting could take several hours if you allow it to; but if you structure the activity so you have 45 minutes before the meeting you will complete it in the 45 minutes.