How to give yourself more breathing room

Home Column How to give yourself more breathing room

ideal work weekSince 2007, I’ve coached hundreds of floor dealers from every conceivable market across the U.S. and Canada. One common theme I encounter frequently is this: dealers feel overworked and that their business has too much control—like it owns them instead of them owning it. I’ve helped owners cut their work hours from over 60 per week down to 30 while maintaining strong business growth to achieve their ideal work week. Let’s look at a couple of effective tools I use to help make this happen.

One-week task journal

For one week, carry a notebook with you and record what you did every hour. At the end of the week, highlight similar types of tasks. This will give you visual feedback for how much time you spend doing something. Next, add up the hours you spent on each task. Working the sales floor might add up to 25 hours, emails might be six hours, etc.

Your ideal week

Next, create a seven-day calendar. You should have seven columns, one for each day. In these columns you’re going to build your ideal week—by that I mean the type of week you’d like to have if your business ran efficiently and you had quality staff and plenty of money. Don’t worry if those things aren’t in place at the moment. The ideal week is going to give you a goal to work toward. Your Monday column might look like this:

  • 6 a.m. – 8 a.m. – I get up, exercise for 30 minutes, have breakfast and spend time with my spouse and kids.
  • 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Working at my flooring business.
  • 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. – Lunch with a referral partner.
  • 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. – Working at my flooring business.
  • 4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. – Pick up my kids from school. Coach my daughter’s soccer team.
  • 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. – Dinner, time with family.
  • 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. – Relax.
  • 10 p.m. – Bedtime.

Do this for every day of the week, including your days off.

Putting it all together

In this scenario, your ideal week includes working seven hours/day, five days/week, 35 hours total. Let’s say you’re currently working 55 hours. Then you need to reduce your weekly workload by 20 hours. Go back to your weekly task journal and identify one or two tasks that are taking up 20 hours per week. For example, you might be spending 25 hours per week working the sales floor. By hiring another salesperson, you can free up those 25 hours. You’ll have reached your goal of reducing your workload by 20 hours, with five hours to spare. Remember, nature abhors a vacuum. Once you’ve freed up those 20 hours it’s critical that you be deliberate in how you fill them. Otherwise, those hours will simply fill up with business “stuff.”

This is a simplified example, but it’s the exact kind of thinking and process I’ve used many times to help dealers unshackle themselves from a business that has too much control. If you feel overworked, creating a one-week task journal and building out your ideal week are effective first steps in taking control of your business and living your ideal lifestyle.

Jim is the founder and president of Flooring Success Systems, a company that provides floor dealers with marketing services and coaching to help them attract quality customers, close more sales, get higher margins and work the hours they choose. For information visit

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