It’s this time of year when a lot of plumbers will be fighting against the clock to get work completed in time for the Christmas break. It can be a rush to get jobs completed, get as built plans drawn up, complete job manuals and put in the last invoices for the year before next Friday so they can be processed for payment next month. I remember the rush well. The adrenaline rush to visit jobs, get the urgent jobs done, dealing with issues and general demands of completing a project. It can be hard not to feel rushed to get all of the things done. Having experienced it myself, I’ve come up with a term for it: Rushing Tradie’s Syndrome.
If you read a lot of blogs – especially health articles online that deal with stress and overwhelm, you may have come across the condition called Rushing Woman’s Syndrome. Dr Libby Weaver wrote a book on the condition which is essentially a condition (or practice which becomes a condition) where women rush to do all the things and be all the things to the people in their lives. Their lists are never ending and they are always in a hurry to get the next job crossed off the list, but they never seem to get ahead. There is anxiety and a whole number of health problems associated with Rushing Women’s Syndrome.
I haven’t read the book, but I have read about it online and have had discussions about it with others. I relate to the description and I think many women do.
But I think the ‘rushing syndrome’ can broadened to a number of other people. I think it can relate to entrepreneurs, business owners and especially tradies, who are the one stop shop for their business.
In trade related businesses where the owner juggles a number of different roles, the to-do list never ends. Add in emails and phone calls that break up the day, and it can feel like they’re always chasing their tail.
I think some of the reasons some tradies are late or never show up to jobs is not because they couldn’t care less about the work, but simply because they are overcommitted with the work they have on.
And sometimes those jobs can have unexpected delays that can prevent them from getting to the next job. Often there is a lot of criticism on tradies who don’t show up (or who are late), but sometimes there may be a legitimate reason for their actions. A courtesy phone call is the best way to advise a client, but sometimes the rush and overwhelm can prevent said tradie from making that call. (If the tradie is constantly a no show – it’s time to find someone else)
Managing the rush is a hard balance to get right. On one hand a company needs to have enough work on to pay the bills, but if they say no to jobs, will it affect them later on?
So if you’re a tradie, or you work in a trade related business, how do you avoid Rushing Tradie’s Syndrome? And how do you avoid it especially at Christmas when everyone wants their job completed yesterday?
Here are some tips that may help. They are easier typed than done. And some may not be applicable to your business.
1. Do one thing at a time.
Stop multi-tasking. Schedule times throughout the day to reply to emails, respond to messages and call back the missed calls you couldn’t answer.
2. Don’t overcommit.
This is so hard to do because it can be a feast or famine with work, and often it can be a feast at Christmas. Ensure you have the right staff and subbies to cover the workload. Don’t take on more than you can manage. If you know you’re at capacity and a job has a tight turnaround, it wouldn’t be wise to add it to your plate. Make a call to find out what the deadline is for the job and make the decision with the information you receive from the client.
Often managers reluctantly do a lot of the work because it saves them money because they don’t have to pay someone else to do it for them. Be wise in what you delegate and how you charge for that work. If it’s expected that you are to be onsite at a job, don’t send another tradie. Outsource jobs which don’t have to be done by you like manual making and drawing as built plans. Consider the cost of your time, and the cost of getting a particular admin job outsourced.
When delegating, understand what a heavy workload can do to your health. Delegate jobs wisely to tradespeople and staff you can trust. Give more responsibilities to apprentices. One day they may like to run a business of their own. These skills are valuable for them and for your business.
4. Take dedicated smoko breaks.
I know so many tradies who won’t stop for lunch. But a break is necessary for productivity. Smoko usually takes place around 10am (if been on the tools since 6am). Make sure it is taken and add another break if you work late into the afternoon. Take half an hour for a coffee. It will take your mind off work and you will be amazed at how refreshed you feel when you get back to it. Read the paper, or do a crossword. Give your mind a break from your to-do-list.
5. Prepare for Christmas before Christmas arrives.
This is a bit hard to do when Christmas is literally a few weeks away, but you can be at least prepared for next Christmas. My parents always went away after Christmas, and although the industry was closed over those 2 weeks until the second week of January, I was on standby with my dad’s mobile, my mobile and the office phone. This was organized when the holiday would be booked well in advance.
During those weeks, I’d go to the office to check emails and do a bit of administration, drop off materials to plumbers who were still working on jobs that had to be completed during the break. I would enjoy the week between Christmas and New Years as it would be quiet.
But the following week would see all three phones go off at once. Stressful times. I got through, but I know my parents enjoyed their holiday overseas even more, with me in charge. Have a second in charge to look after emails and the phone while you take a break. This should be organised well in advance so the person taking over knows what will be expected of them.
6. Turn your phone off during times of rest, so you can rest.
On a side note, if you do go overseas, and still have to take your mobile, ensure it is turned off at night. I was once woken at 2am in the morning when I was in London, because a client wanted me to organise the delivery of two toilet cisterns to his daughter’s house. I can laugh about it now, and I did laugh about it at the time. I promptly turned off my mobile during the night so I could get my sleep. In hindsight, that phone call prepared me for having a newborn a year later who would wake me at 2am for a feed!
You may have your own way of dealing with the rush at Christmas, but the most important point of this post is that if you are feeling rushed, reach out to those in your business to let them know the burden of your workload and take one day at a time. Make sure you’re not putting unrealistic expectations on yourself which are causing you to feel even more rushed. If your mental health is being affected, please contact Mates in Construction or your GP .
If you run a business, have you felt rushed these last few weeks? Do you think you could have rushing tradie’s syndrome?
Disclosure: There are affiliate links on this post. Should you choose to purchase an item, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.