QUESTION: Mike, I was taught 20 years ago to plan in the afternoon and set myself up for a strong day and strong week, and I just find myself too distracted and tired out at the end of the day. Any planning tips you can give me that can help me through this? - Alex, Dallas, TX
ANSWER: Full confession - I was an excellent list maker, but horrible at planning at 4:30 in the afternoon. For that reason, for years, I did not plan. Since that is your challenge, Alex, which was very similar to mine, the easiest solution is to come in half an hour early. Even if you cannot come in a half-hour early, you are better off starting the day investing a half an hour to get it set up the right way.
I like to use Stephen Covey’s method of planning by starting with the big rocks. Every week in the recruiting business on a recruiting desk, the big rocks are: Where are my interviews coming from? Everything else in your business revolves around those big rocks.
Having audited many time studies from clients, in the absence of a plan, you are operating under someone else’s plan. The easiest way to give you an outline, we teach this in-depth and provide templates in our programs, here would be: When you look at your week, what are your objectives for the week?
When it comes down to the week, do you know your billing goal, and do you know what it takes activity-wise to get there? You need to answer that is the question first. For example, $300,000 in billings equates 2 to 2½ interviews a week, depending on your average fee. That is four interviews every two weeks, two interviews a week. The week’s primary question then becomes: What has to be true for me to arrange two interviews this week?
When you look at your plan, you might realize that you do not have anything good to work on. If that is the case, to get two interviews, means your planning has to be geared more around marketing, especially in the early part of the week.
If you have active job orders that you are working on, look at where you are most likely to get two interviews from this week. That way, you can prioritize those positions first. If you know your metrics, you will learn how many people you need to talk to to get those two interviews. If you do not track your numbers, 15 submissions on a job order are about right. That means you need 30 candidate conversations or six per day.
All the other stuff in your business, such as revising your website, creating automated systems for follow up, finding support people to outsource research or admin, become a subpart of the plan after identifying the critical goal. First, you focus on the need to talk to 6 people a week, but over the next month, I do not want to be doing my own research, so part of my plan is to block off 8:30 to 9:00 to look at Upwork as an outsource option. Use that block of time to create a posting and evaluate the people that send in proposals. This project gets integrated into the daily planning. It gets completed over time to concentrate on the main objective of getting two interviews per week while making incremental progress on other goals that will support your main objective.