What the HECK am I going to do?
February 10, 2008 7:10 AM   Subscribe

PLEASE HELP!!! I suffer from "CRS" disease and it's progressing rapidly. I'm so unorganized that I misplaced my examples of how unorganized I am. I will be filling in for a friend and co-worker while he is out for six months with extensive back surgery. I have a PDA/Smart phone, not working for me. Need basic idiot proof ideas.

I will have to learn an entirely different area of estimating. We are a small subcontractor in the construction industry with a very good name for knowing what we are doing and providing exceptional quality and service.

I have a small shop. My "right-hand man” who has been with me for years, has done all take offs, measuring, estimating, (both in the field and office), ordering, scheduling, change orders and invoicing. He received his degree in architecture and he thrives on relating to contractors and architects. You will find his picture in many dictionaries under “organized” and my picture under “chaotically disorganized”. Besides being an onsite foreman, I will have to step into his shoes until he recovers. I will have to handle calls on the fly and deal with them ASAP.

How do I keep track of everything and keep a good flow? I do have a very good office manager however she is not versed in that side of the business.

Thank you
posted by ok to Work & Money (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you have a very good office manager, enlist her as your own right hand man. She can screen your calls and assignments and send you off where it is most urgent and keep the others at bay. Do not underestimate the super powers of an on the ball office administrator to help you. Maybe you could approach it as a team assignment, she can do the parts you aren't good at and you can both cover the job. She probably knows more than you think from seeing all that paperwork cross her desk and she probably has done the ordering,scheduling, change order and invoicing you are crediting to your other coworker. Make it a team effort. Oh, and give her a raise, she probably deserves one.
posted by 45moore45 at 7:19 AM on February 10, 2008 [2 favorites]

Could your office manager work with you and your colleague to come up with checklists that approximate the way he thinks about these processes? I don't know anything about your business...but maybe something like a worksheet that helps you check off what's been done and what follow through is needed for each project, who the contacts are, etc. Then you can schedule a sit-down review with your office manager each day - maybe twice a day - to go through it all and see what she can take on. Even if she is just helping to check in and hold you accountable ("Did you call so-and-so about the widget delivery?") and knowing how to run interference on your behalf with clients who call, it might really help to hold the professionalism of the office together. I also agree that she probably knows more than you think! Think about bringing in some part time help during this time period so that she can offload some of the more mundane aspects of her job and free herself up to help keep you on track.
posted by shelbaroo at 10:23 AM on February 10, 2008

Seconding exploiting the talents and knowledge of your office manager. Many years ago, I was in a similar situation, only I was the office manager who was suddenly pressed into service outside my realm at a small steel brokerage when the guy who arranged all the trucks and the processing orders (sending steel coils into a processing plant to have them cut down to smaller sizes with the least amount of scrap) was sidelined by a medical emergency. I had to plunge in and help the boss/owner, and we were both surprised at how much I'd actually absorbed about the other guy's job just by virtue of me handling all the office paperwork and taking phone messages for the guy. Working closely with the boss, we managed to put out all the fires and keep everything running smoothly. I'm sure that once you're thrown into the water headfirst, you and your office manager will also be able to keep all the balls in the air, so to speak.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:23 AM on February 10, 2008

I swear I'm not being glib, but have you thought about maybe being assessed for ADHD? Here are the symptoms. If you're so disorganized that it's fucking with your life, it might be something to think about.
posted by granted at 1:40 PM on February 10, 2008

Hire a qualified temporary replacement for your right-hand man. You already know that what he does is not your forte so don't risk your mental health and your business's reputation. Six months can be a very long time...
posted by hapax_legomenon at 2:36 PM on February 10, 2008

I agree with hapax_legomenon about hiring a temp. However I do not believe you stated in your post whether your right hand man will be totally out of communication for 6 months. Clearly extensive back surgery is very serious and there may be legal issues of which I am unaware if the person is out on disability. I am just unclear on whether it is a solid block of totally being on your own, or whether some communication will be likely or possible.

As for being disorganized, I think it would be difficult to change your personality quickly enough. I can only suggest what shelbaroo already did, that having something like a spreadsheet to check off follow through items would help. You could even just use a Word processor to develop different forms for different types of customers or projects, all based on a common form with a lot of white space, and then saved under different names where each variation the white space had different check off items unique to that checklist.

Or you could try looking at things backwards. If things go wrong and the customer complains, what are they likely to complain about? Now, for each of those possible failures figure out a way to avoid them, either through paperwork or teamwork.
posted by forthright at 6:58 PM on February 10, 2008

« Older Help me save my shirts from being sliced up and...   |   How do I protect myself from a financially... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.