You guys know I am all about saving time and money, but what you may not know is that I absolutely love using routing to improve my overall productivity. What is routing? It is the act or process by which you plan out and route your journey so you follow the path of least resistance.
Alright, I know that was a lot of words, so let me give you an example. Lets say today you have a meeting you need to attend, you need to drop off a sales packet and run by a supplier. In planning those events for today I would map out the path these take and basically make a circle. Determine if you have any downtime between meetings and plan in a site visit or look up the nearest Starbucks where you can work. You also would need to ensure you have the files you need to work on while at Starbucks.
How Does Routing Improve Productivity?
You see unless you have a delivery service, most people don’t realize how much time is truly wasted when they fail to route their day. In the above mentioned scenario it is often that people will go to work then go to the supplier, then back to work…to leave 45 minutes later to drop off the sales packet, etc. The result of this is wasted time and money.
Once you begin the process of routing, you will find that early planning helps you better plan your route. You may start by just routing one day and see how it helps, but think about how applying routing to your entire week will save you a lot of time. How planning one particular day of the week as the day to schedule out of office meetings or maybe you service one side of the city on certain days? The possibilities are endless, just think outside the box about what you are doing on a daily basis and see where you can route your activities.
How Do You “Route” to Improve Productivity?
So, now that I’ve told you all about this fabulousness, how do you do it? Well, it is easier than you think. In a nutshell, you figure out all the things you need to do for the day and then you map out a plan to accomplish it with as little effort as possible. So, start by looking at your calendar for today…does it require you to leave your office or your desk? If you are a solopreneur or someone trying to work a full-time job and build a business at a same time, I encourage you to include your personal items as well. Why? because you are often times struggling to find pockets of time in your life as a whole, not just your business. Alright so lets walk through it:
Create your List of Things To Do
Start the process of routing by just writing down everything that needs to be done for the day. On your schedule today you have to do the following:
- Take the dog to the vet, which closes at 5 (5 miles from your home);
- Drop off your upcoming event invitations at the printer;
- Conduct a consultation with a potential client;
- Pick up your child from school at 4 (10 miles from home);
- Go grocery shopping for dinner (2 miles from home);
- Get stamps at the post office to mail the invitations; and
- Take your child to practice (you normally just sit and wait).
Begin the Routing Process
In looking at what has to be done, see where things can be done together. In looking at the list above, I would route it as follows (I have included the why):
- I’d work to conduct the consultation with the potential client as early as possible. You want to make sure you are fresh. This also gives the client time to get settled and allows you to avoid rush hour. You want to be able to wear something a little more professional as you are a representative of your business.
- Depending on when the consultation is I would drop off the event invites at the printer before or after the consultation.
- On the way home I’d go to the grocery store and knock out the grocery shopping, at the same time I’d pick up the stamps (assuming I absolutely want to add a stamp, otherwise I’d just plan to hand deliver these to the post office and have them stamp them there with the machine). This allows me to drop off the groceries at home, change my clothes and pick up the dog (I would also try to figure out a less busy day to grocery shop if possible).
- I’d then take the dog to the vet on my way to pick up the kids from school (if there was enough time and if it wasn’t an overnight visit). I’d work on my report while waiting on the dog to finish, if it wasn’t overnight.
- Take my child to their practice and continue to work on the consultation report from that morning.
By developing this routing schedule, I know exactly what I need to do and how to do it in the most efficient way possible.
The Productivity Benefits of Routing
When you start routing your calendar, you begin to identify your optimal times of the day and week. You will begin to see how much easier things are and how much time you can recover. You will begin to make deliberate decisions as to when and how you are going to do something. No more doing things randomly, each action is calculated as to how it effects the day and your desired deliverables.
The Birth of Batching
Successful routing eventually grows into batching, which I talk about in Organizing and Increasing Productivity Using Batching. You will also begin to see patterns and areas where you can move things around. Why do you grocery shop during the week? Can you pick a different day of the week when you aren’t as busy or are naturally in the area. You will figure out when you have must haves versus like to haves or I wanna’s. You will also be able to eliminate things that you really don’t need to do.
So I’m curious, prior to reading this post had you ever routed? If so, share any ideas or ways you use routing to improve your overall productivity. If this is your first time hearing about routing? How will try to incorporate it in your day?
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