Time Management Tips: Avoid Time Sucking Vampires By Eliminating Distractions

management time sucking vampires distractions
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All restaurant owners, operators, and managers can relate to this scenario: you’re under the gun trying to meet multiple deadlines and you are constantly being interrupted by your employees, vendors, delivery trucks, etc. Before you know it, your day is over and nothing got completed. With all of the distractions, how are you supposed to get anything done correctly, much less on time?

I have coined a term for these distractors: Time Sucking Vampires. Please don’t take that the wrong way! It’s not that their intentions are cruel— they’re not out to harm you in any way— or that the information they need to share with you isn’t important. It’s just that they are a constant distraction that slowly sucks time away until there is no time left to get your tasks completed.

KEEPING THE TIME SUCKING VAMPIRES AT BAY

In order to keep these Time Sucking Vampires at bay, you have to first understand that they are coming to talk to you when it’s convenient for them. It’s normal, they have time when the restaurant is slow and strike while you are trying to get your most focused work done.

The best way I have found to eliminate most of your distractions might sound a little backward to you. It’s a system of closed doors and office hours. I know that sounds strange in a culture where we are supposed to be accessible to our team, and you will, I promise, but just not all of the time. The key to success is being consistent with enforcing your established office hours.

It’s time to make the change from your door is always open…come in whenever you need something. Don’t get me wrong, I want you to be available to your staff. But I want you to be available when it’s convenient for you and not necessarily when it’s convenient for them. You have too many important tasks to take care of and when they shift from important to urgent tasks that’s when fires can flare. The work you’re doing is important, just like the work they’re doing, but sometimes in an effort to be the ‘cool boss’ we put their priorities ahead of ours.

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Think of it this way, when you fly on an airplane they tell you that in the event of an emergency to put your oxygen mask on first before securing your child’s oxygen mask. Why? It’s not that your kids aren’t important. They’ve tested and proven that if you pass out while trying to get a mask on your child, you’ll be in no position to help them. Instead, you put your mask on first, very quickly without any fight, and then you are free to assist your child.

I need you to put your oxygen mask on first.

SYSTEM FOR ELIMINATING DISTRACTIONS AND GETTING MORE DONE

Here’s the part where I need you to trust me because this system really works! Your first step is to put your oxygen mask on first and focus on your priorities. This is what will keep the lights on in your restaurant. Your second step is to keep your door closed when you are in your office and put a sign on your door that says ‘Please do not disturb’ or ‘Please come back later’ or whatever word(s) work best for you. Your employees are still going to bother you because that’s what they are used to doing, but they will quickly learn. Your third step is to immediately ask them if this an emergency. The first couple of times, they might be unsure how to answer so you really want to distinguish what qualifies as an emergency— does the issue have to be dealt with right now or can it be dealt with later? If it’s not an emergency, remind the person of your office hours and that they can come in and talk to you about anything and for as much time as they need during those hours. You don’t have to create appointments but if that is easier for you, it works within this process.

How to Implement in Your Restaurant

Here’s an example scenario that likely occurs in your restaurant all too often. It’s Monday afternoon and you get a knock on your door (remember, your door stays closed now). Your first step is to ask if this an emergency. If they answer ‘no’ or ‘kind of’ kindly ask them to come back during your office hours, which are now regularly scheduled on your calendar and posted where your staff can see them. Chances are they solve the problem themselves because they don’t want to come back. If it’s really important, they will come back during office hours so you can work through their problem together.

Within a week or two of consistently doing this, your staff will stop knocking on your door as much. The people with real issues will write them down, bring them up in staff meetings or during office hours, go to their managers, or figure out a way to solve them without your involvement.

SUMMING IT UP

As a quick reminder, there are four essential steps to keeping the Time Sucking Vampires at bay:

  • Put your oxygen mask on first.
  • Establish office hours and put a “Do not Disturb” sign on your door when you are unavailable.
  • Always ask if this is an emergency.

Restaurant owners, operators, and managers are busy! You have priorities and things that you have to do in your business to keep it going, to keep your staff employed, and to keep their incomes growing. By keeping the Time Sucking Vampires at bay, you will spend more time focused on what needs to be done versus putting everybody’s fires out.


Ryan GromfinRyan Gromfin is an author, speaker, chef, restauranteur, and founder of therestaurantboss.com, clickbacon.com, and scalemyrestaurant.com. He is the most followed restaurant coach in the world helping Restaurant Owners and Operators increase profits, improve operations, and scale and grow their businesses.

  • T&S Brass Eversteel Pre-Rinse Units
  • AyrKing Mixstir
  • Inline Plastics Safe-T-Chef
  • RATIONAL USA
  • Imperial Dade
  • DAVO Sales Tax
  • Simplot Frozen Avocado
  • Day & Nite
  • McKee Foodservice
  • RAK Porcelain
  • BelGioioso Burrata