How to Plan for Maximum Productivity

QUESTION: What is the best way to plan for you day or your week?  I tend to get sidetracked all week long by a number of things.  I’ll be honest (please do not use my last name), I tend to lose focus and I am rarely, if ever, well planned.  – Paul, Georgia

ANSWER: Okay.  Here is the dirty little secret planning is not a function most recruiters are really good at because it is boring.  I was taught to plan at the end of the day and found that was a horrible time for me to personally plan.

Here are a few ideas on planning.  One, maybe it is the time of day.  I was a much better planner earlier in the morning when the office was quiet, I could sit down with a cup of coffee and listen to some music.  My day had not started yet so I had the energy to tackle some things without distractions.  At the end of the day, to help myself plan for the next day I would put together some lists of things that came up during the day that needed to be done tomorrow.  That is not really planning.

Planning is then looking at what are the searches I have open.  What do I have to do to really prepare for helping negotiate the software, debriefing with a candidate, getting him or her closer to yes.  Some people do their planning on the weekends, I liked keeping my weekends free from work.  If I did some work I did fun work, probably not planning work, but goal setting, or strategic work.  Having an office with up to 20 people at its peak, Friday was the one day almost everybody was gone by 5:30.  I never liked doing a lot of personal stuff on Friday night so I would plan Friday from 5:30 to maybe 8:00, even 9:00.

When you sit down to plan, and again this could be Friday night, it could be over the weekend, take a global view of the whole next four weeks.  If your goal is to have a $300,000 a year and you have about an eight to one first time interview to placement ratio, you need a placement a month.  That means you going to need eight first time interviews over the next month, which translates to two interviews a week.  Where are my 2 interviews coming from next week?  Take look at where you are with your searches.

When you ask yourself, where are my two interviews coming from next week?  You might say, oh my gosh, I do not really have any good searches to work on.  So I either need to do an MPC, most placeable candidate marketing campaign.  I might need to really over skew my work on marketing to get a search to work on, and then when I get a search I can start searching.  Or your situation could be I have got these six searches, two of them retained.  Where do I begin?  And how do I continue to do marketing?  Because I think outbound marketing, whether you are calling or emailing, it should be done every day.  The best time to market is when you do not need an opening because you are most confident and you will probably negotiate the best terms.

So from a planning perspective, once I determined where my interviews are going to come from, then I would look at what is the research I need.  Hopefully in this day and age you are not doing your own research.  You are not investing hours on LinkedIn and going through that, because if you are talking to 2, 3, or 4 people a day and you are billing less than $150 you do not have a technique problem, you have an activity problem and you are overwhelming yourself with $5, $10, and $15 an hour activities.  We teach this in a bunch of our programs – how to hire researchers for $5 or $10 an hour and most people when they join the program it is one of the first things they do.  You can get 3 or 4 hours a day sometimes back.  You can hire a researcher through Upwork.  Have them find the people, the email addresses, the phone numbers, and help them put together the list.  You can put the list of the people from your database together and then have a targeted list and then figure out how much for the next coming week your balance is going to be between marketing and recruiting based on what you need to get those two interviews, and then engineer things in blocks of time no longer than 90 minutes.

So I am going to do marketing from 8:30 to 10:00.  Turn off your email, turn off LinkedIn, and the only thing you are doing from 8:30 to 10:00 is marketing.  Then maybe give yourself a break from 10:00 to 10:15.  Get a cup of coffee.  Clear out all the tens of thousands of emails that have come in in the last 90 minutes, and then have another block of say 10:15 to noon or 11:30 or 11:45 where maybe that is a recruiting block of time.  If you start doing that, you are going to double or triple your production.  It just requires a little bit of discipline to plan these things in advance.  If you are thrilled with your production, there is probably no reason to change.  But great question on time management.