Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
You’re busy right? I know a lot of us are busy, but running a Janitorial business is a different kind of busy! Managing schedules, hiring new cleaners, keeping new cleaners, winning new business… the list goes on and on.
On top of that, juggling the information from multiple people and making sure things get done in the right order is impossible, right? Not so fast :)
Years ago, when Swept was a cleaning company, we faced these very same issues. We were lucky enough to find a proven approach that made all the difference. It was efficient, didn't cost us any money, and most importantly it helped us maintain our sanity from day to day.
Getting Things Done (GTD)
In late 2002, David Allen published a book called “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity”. If you’ve figured out how to fit in time for reading books make sure to add this one to your list.
For the rest of us who struggle to stay awake watching Netflix, this article was written with you in mind. The approach is broken into 5 key steps:
Step #1 - Capture
Start by creating a list of 100% of the things you need to get done. This could take a bit of time, but it doesn't have to. You can make your list by adding to it over a couple days. At least you've taken your to do’s out of your head and put them in one place. The goal is to get down what has your attention.
Why is Step #1 important?
Does this sound familiar? That nagging feeling that you're forgetting something. Or, the "thing" you forgot that pops into your head at the perfect time... right before you're about to fall asleep. This is your subconscious trying to protect you. If you want that feeling to stop, and want to get control back rather than “just letting things happen”, start dumping everything you need to do into a single list. Okay, got your list? Let’s move to step #2.
Step #2 - Clarify
This step is about understanding what everything on your list means, how important it is to you, and what you should do about it. For each item in your list ask the following questions:
Can you do this in 2 mins. or less?
If the answer is yes, do it right now. I mean it, right now. If you can’t do it right now, in less than 2 mins., ask yourself the next question.
Can you give it to someone else?
If you were able to assign it to someone else and they can do it 80% as well as you can, then do it. Use the 2 minute rule to delegate it. If it will take more than 2 mins. to delegate, then it’s time to move to step #3.
Why is Step #2 important?
This step is about “Processing” your work, not about trying to get it all done. How often do you start a morning by opening up your inbox, and before you know it, two hours have gone by? Yeah, stop doing that. Process your work using the 2 rules above so you can move to the next step.
Step #3 - Organize
This step is about planning what work needs to be done and when. The simplest way to start is to create a few lists so each task has a place where it belongs. The key to this step is to keep your lists simple. They should be: things you need to do, things you should do and things you should consider doing. Your list might look something like this.
- This Week
- Someday Maybe
Take a look at your to do list, and move everything that hasn’t been placed into one of these 3 new lists.
You’re aiming to get these things done today. Be realistic about your time. Start slow with just a couple things that are really important. If you can’t decide, start with the single most important task you can think of. From there you can order the ones that are left.
Pro Tip: Block out 1 hour per day to work on your today tasks. If you make it the same time each day, you can easily communicate to your team that this hour is “off-limits”. Remember, it’s just an hour, and the world will not end during this time. This is the best way to get the most important things done each day, while still dealing with the reality of your other responsibilities.
These are things that don’t make the “Today” cut but still need to be addressed soon. Simplify this process by scheduling these things into your calendar. As an example: Check Inventory at “Location XYZ”.
This list is for things that you don’t want to forget about, but don’t think are realistic to get done this week.
Why is Step #3 important?
The key to the “Organize” Step is to be clear about what exactly you are going to get done. Don’t add anything here that is a bunch of little tasks. For example, do NOT add “Employee Referral Program” to your “Today” list expecting to get it done today just because you added it. This list is meant for 10 or 20 to do's that may take time to roll out over the next couple weeks. Getting good at this does take practice, so start slow. As you get better, you’ll be able to do more each day, I promise! Time for step 4.
Step #4 - Reflect
This is the step that makes the whole approach work. When you make space in your day to review your lists, you start training your subconscious to trust that you have a plan. It’s this step that lets you to start removing the stress and anxiety from your day. You have a system; you're learning how to use it. As you practice you WILL become better, and your ability to get more done will be noticeable.
Don’t be surprised if people start asking how you stay on top of so much but don’t look as stressed as you used to.
The key to this step is to make looking at your lists a habit. The more often you look, the more confident you’ll become in the process.
Pro Tip: Do a weekly clean up at the end or beginning of your week to make sure you’e on the right track.
Step #5 - Engage
This step is about using the approach to improve your business. Teach it to others on your team. Use it to communicate more effectively, and get more done in your Janitorial business.
To get you off on the right foot, we’ve put together a few resources that we use day to day for our GTD process. Most are free but a few are paid. We’d recommend starting with the free approach and move your way up to the paid tools.
Wunderlist is a great free app that lets you create as many lists as you want. It works with web (using a browser) and is available for both iOS and Android for mobile.
This is a great tool for outlining your 3 lists. But that’s not all-- you can easily use this app to organize your other needs, like project planning. Wunderlist has built-in reminders, lets you add notes to each task, the great features really go one and on. You’ll have to start paying when you want to be able to collaborate with members of your team. But most importantly, it offers a tremendous amount for the right price… FREE!
Todoist is another great task tool that can do everything Wunderlist does. Its main benefits over Wunderlist have less to do with functionality and more to do with aesthetics. If you’re willing to invest in the paid portion, Todoist has a great feature that lets you email tasks directly into your app.
Momentum is a great way to get started if downloading an app is more than you’re ready for right now. This app is an extension for your browser that loads each time you open a tab. The free version lets you create lists and also has a great option of setting your FOCUS for the day. The paid version lets you integrate either Wunderlist or Todoist should you ever want to walk down the GTD professional path!
Good luck and happy to-doing