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Supporting Your Chamber Staff and Members Through the Raging Customer

As chamber pros, productivity and time are your secret weapons. You need time to launch the initiatives you want and to meet your goals. But without a productive use of that time, it doesn’t matter how much you have of it. You need both to be successful in your goals. Yet, in all our lives there are time drains or leeches that are sucking away one of your most valuable commodities. In this article, we’ll help you identify them and then give you a way to deal with them. It’s time to get your time back and we’re going to help you do it in as painless a way as possible.

Common Chamber Time Sucks and What to Do About Them

If you find yourself wondering where your day went, you’re not alone. Many of us feel like we get to work, make a cup of coffee, answer a phone call, and it’s the end of the day. No sooner have you just started it and it’s over. And that’s a big deal for a chamber pro, especially since many of us have days that easily bleed into our nights. Instead of lamenting what happened to your day, let’s explore some of the most common leeches of our time.

Using a Machine That Isn’t Optimized or Performing on All Cylinders

Before we get into all the time sucks in our day, let’s talk about one that you can control—ensuring your personal machine (aka your body for those of us who remember School House Rock on Saturday mornings) is performing optimally. When you don’t get enough sleep, when you don’t eat well, when you consume something that makes you sick/bloated/sluggish, and when you run yourself ragged, you are using a body that is not able to perform as top capacity.

Confession: Every Sunday, I plan my schedule trying to fill up as much as I can in revenue-generating activities but still leaving space for emergencies as well as a passion project of mine. Every day before I get ready for bed, I review the day, see what I accomplished, and what’s due the next day and the remainder of the week. When I wake up, I always know what’s on my to-do list. Today, I had extra time (according to my schedule) to work on my passion project. However, last night I didn’t sleep well. I went to bed late and couldn’t fall asleep. I walk up to the rush of adrenaline that always happens when I wake up to an alarm. (I almost always wake up before my alarm.) Two cups of coffee didn’t help the situation.


I’m now going about my day in a vehicle that is not up to performing on all cylinders. It’s sluggish and not functioning properly. Your body, just like your car, is designed to get you where you want/need to go. When you don’t take care of it, it lags. It’s slower. It takes you longer to get where you want to do, and you waste precious time. Before you try to do any of the other things listed in this article to help you regain productivity, start with taking care of yourself.


Now let’s get to the rest of the things that are slowing you down.

Working by Reflex

This time we’re not referring to your body. Instead, we’re talking about the knee-jerk responses you may have responding to all the “shoulds” or emergencies people tack onto your time. As a chamber pro, you have an agenda, a strategic plan, and goals. You don’t want to treat your workday like a Whack-a-Mole game where you’re banging something down wherever it comes up. Yet, that is what a lot of chamber pros do. They react to wherever someone else is popping up and drop what they’re doing to attend to that “mole.”

Solution: stop letting others set your priorities. You met with your board and created a strategic plan. You know what your goals are. Someone else’s emergency is not your emergency unless it impacts one of your goals. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be helpful but be deliberate with your help and not like someone using a padded hammer in that carnival game. There is nothing productive about that.

Not Knowing What You’re Doing

Letting others set your agenda can be a real time drain and that often happens when you don’t know what you’re doing. We don’t mean this as a putdown of your skills. Quite the contrary. The more capable you are, the more often people will seek help from you to straighten out their problems. When you go into every day knowing what you’re doing, you will have a clearer vision of what doesn’t fit (aka someone else’s agenda, for instance). On the other hand, if you go in waiting for that phone to ring or the next emergency to fall on your desk, you’re starting in reactive mode. This gives the rest of the world power over your day and places them in charge.

Solution: chart your day, week, and month. Know what must be done immediately and what’s on the horizon. Practice saying “no” and setting expectations. If you have your to-do list prepared, you can easily see if you have additional time to help or if you will need to defer their issue to another day or help them find another solution/delegate it to someone else.

Being Female

While there isn’t anything you can do about this, if you are female, you can become more aware that people are more likely to ask a female co-worker for a favor than a male. Additionally, women who are inclined to help are viewed less favorably than women who are less agreeable. Something to think about before agreeing to the next work “favor.”

Using Antiquated Methods Around the Office

Tech has changed a lot in the past decade. From its cost to its capabilities, from its integrations to its limitations, if you haven’t investigated new software and what’s available to streamline your processes, you could be wasting a lot of time on things that could be automated. Sometimes it’s not even a matter of adopting a new tool but taking the time to understand how what you currently have works.

Solution: Think about one of your biggest pain points from a productivity perspective and search online for a solution. You might be surprised about the options out there. Sometimes, you already have what you need. You just don’t know it. Remember all those emails you get about software feature updates? Read them on occasion and you might just find you have more capabilities in your hands than you realized.

Stagnating

We only know what we know. If you’re not a lifelong learner, there may be a solution out there that you know nothing about. While other generations look down on the younger ones for “job hopping” there is one benefit to doing so. You see how other companies work. If you’ve been with your chamber for decades or been in the industry since before social media, you may be doing it the way you know best. That is great; until it isn’t.

It’s important to ensure you’re always exploring how others are doing the job. Put yourself in charge of your professional development and education. Don’t expect someone to tell you. Be open to learning new things and experimentation. You may find a more efficient way to do something.

Letting Your Day Run Away

Do you know what you do every day? Have you taken the time to write down how you spent your day? We’re not asking about your to-do list. We’re referring to what you do during the day, not what you were scheduled to do.

Solution: it takes a little extra time to write down everything you do but it gives excellent insights into your day and where you are spending your most time. Pretend you are billable by the hour for two days. Record everything you do and how long you spend on it. After two days (or ideally a week), look at what you’ve found. Where are you spending/wasting most of your time?

Ignoring Where the Money Is

We know you’re in your position to help your community, but the chamber must make money to stay open and pay your salary. That’s why it’s important to know which of your activities contribute to that. Out of your daily tasks, which ones have the most return on investment? For instance, do you generally spend about an hour on your monthly open house and then convert that work into five (on average) new members? Great! Or do you get new members or interest every time you send out an email? There are some activities that you do that are simply more lucrative from a member’s perspective.

Solution: identify these actions and make them a priority for your chamber. Sure, some of your actions create long-term benefits, while others are quick wins but always prioritize the ones that make money if increasing revenue is one of your chamber goals.

So, do any of these sound like reasons for why you’re not as productive as you want to be? If so, they’re easily changed. You just have to want to.

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