Desk (Photo credit: Jim Carson)
Spring Cleaning? Ya, me too. If you haven’t taken a look at your work area lately, step back and take it all in.
See that pile of papers on your desk? And those spare parts you were saving for the factory in the corner…how long have they been there? What’s up with that chair with the padding falling out? Are you saving that for someone special?
Hey, this is not limited to the Service Managers office. There are many GM’s and DP’s offices that look pretty darn close to that picture.
In many cases where there is a roadblock to production and profitability you can trace it back to the way a person works. One of the best ways you can get a picture of how that person works is to take a look at their workstation.
Now, I am the king of clutter. I save tons of notes and ideas for writing and you can often find them piled on my desk. Mostly I keep them on the left side. I also save notes from conversations I have with people I am talking with in regards to their dealership. It helps when you’ve forgotten something to go back and review the notes.
And during a Fixed Ops review at a Dealership I will pile papers and RO’s and statements all around me in separate piles so that I can keep track of what I have examined and what’s next. It is organized and they are neatly stacked.
There is a reason I do it this way which I am going to share with you.
I learned a simple system to keep the clutter down and to stay organized when dealing with massive amounts of communications and papers which we all have to deal with every day.
It’s called the “4 D” system and once you start practicing it, it becomes so easy to do that you stop thinking about it and you just start doing it. Getting started though requires your Discipline to stay with it. That’s the secret “D.”
Ok, there is one rule that makes this whole thing work and here it is.
You cannot put down the paper, part, RO whatever it is you are dealing with until something happens to it. Pretend that it has been glued to your hand and the only thing that will take it off is Action!
Now, here are the D’s.
Decide, Delegate, Dump and the last one Delay.
So, you are standing in front of your desk. There is a pile of paper on the corner that has enough dust on it to refill the Sahara desert. Pick up the top paper. It is now glued to your hand. You read it. Suddenly you remember you dealt with this a week ago and this paper is not even relevant anymore.
You just used the first D…Decide. Everything needs a Decision and there is no better time than now. If you don’t need it, where does it go? Round file.
That’s the D for Dump.
If you don’t need it, get rid of it. If you are feeling a little unsure about all of the Dumping going on, determine if whatever you are holding in your hand can be recreated electronically. In other words, is this stored somewhere in your DMS? Is it a pdf file? Is it an email you have saved? Can you put your hands on it later with the help of modern science?
If so, why do you need it on your desk?
(Important tip… have the wastebasket handy.)
Now pick up the next one and do the same. They key to making this work is taking Action before the paper leaves your hand.
If you are going to Delegate, be ready to explain what you want done specifically or in a short minute or two you’ll find that paper back in your in-box.
What you will find is that the Dump file will fill up pretty quickly. Most of what needs to take place in your Dealership has already happened without that important piece of paper or part on your desk or in your office. In other words, it became clutter.
Studies have shown that the most productive people get the most done when they have a system to deal with the daily communication and paper that cross their desk almost immediately. If you feel like nothing is getting done or you are spinning your wheels, take a look at what your desk and workstation look like and see if that thought process begins with your clutter.
A brief comment about the Dangerous D… Delay.
If you are going to Delay something, you need to put a timer on it. By timer, I mean it needs to go into a file that has an Action date either by days out (like 30 days) or by month. If you can get it down to month and date, more power to you.
That means that whatever you a Delaying will require an Action later. It does not mean “fuggetboutit.” That’s why you put a timer on it. It will eventually go “ding” and you will need to take some Action.
If you find yourself putting more in Delay than what you put into Dump…you might be a packrat. Take a deep breath, go back through the pile, determine if you have it stored somewhere and then toss it. It’s ok.
The same goes for the parts, the old chair, the broken credenza with the door hanging off and oh…the note board with notes on it from 1993. Clutter. Use a D on it and get it cleaned up.
In a day or two (for some of you a week or two), you will find a work station that you can find things and get things done. Now that you have learned that system, start applying it to daily communications. Decide, Delegate, Dump or Delay.
Mix those Deeezzz up with your Discipline you can become more productive and get more Done.