August 23, 2010

Do You Have Awful Office Hours

Each day on your calendar is really just a series of clocks with 24 hours. So, let’s talk about these hours—specifically what many consultants call “office hours.” I cringe when I call a Party Plan Person and hear a voice mail stating: “My office hours are ___ to ___ on Monday, ____ to _____ on Tuesday, _____ to ____ on Wednesday…..”

First of all, as a customer, I am CONFUSED! I have a hard enough time dealing with my own calendar let alone knowing when this person will be in her “office.” And what is really puzzling to me is when I call during those hours, the person is not always available!

Personally, I do have office hours, but no one else knows them! That’s private information. The hours also vary depending on when I’m working face-to-face with clients and customers. Sometimes, during those “office hours,” I often don’t want calls coming in if I’m working on a time-sensitive project, making outbound calls, or doing administrative or operational tasks that require my full attention.

I only announced office hours one time in my Party Plan career. One block of “office hours” was Friday mornings from 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon. The funny thing was, my house was so tiny I barely had a kitchen, let alone an office!

Okay, I know you don’t need a physical office to have office hours. My three sons were all under five years old, and one particular Friday was a gorgeous spring morning and the boys wanted to go to the park. I had my bookings secured, hosts contacted, and team connected. While we can always find something to do to build our business, I had things under control to where I wanted to go out and enjoy the day as well. The problem: my office hours! My team and customers knew this is when I was in my pseudo office waiting for them to call. So if I left to go out for personal pleasure with my children, I would appear to be an unreliable business person and leader.

I can still remember staring at the green, rotary-dial phone hanging on the wall of my tiny kitchen, waiting for it to ring ("after all, these are my office hours…why aren’t these people calling me?"). All the while, my boys were asking “Mommy, can we leave?”

So, I did the TWIST: I took the phone off the hook so callers would assume I was visiting with another customer (this was before voice mail was available), gathered my children together for an excursion to the park, and threw my “office hours” away forever!

Does this mean I don’t designate time doing office-type work? Of course not! We all have duties in our businesses that involve sitting at a desk, table, or ironing board—whichever tool we have to use—to conduct business. I commit these time slots to myself and I work during this time. Other than that, I want my clients to call any time they want—that’s why my business and personal lines are separated. If I’m not available, I call them back.

©copyright 2010 Christie Northrup, The Lemon Aid Lady™

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