The November Files

By Jacki Hart, CLP, Program manager, Prosperity Partners

Here's your invitation to improve the challenges that have kept you up nights this season, and working longer hours than are reasonable for any sane person.

Since I started doing this five years ago, it has drastically helped me correct pitfalls, causes of stress and systems in my business.

When you are relaxed, calm and rested in the winter months (or focused on snow contracts and running flat out managing them) it's really tough to bring yourself back to what you are experiencing right now, and what you need to fix.

Step 1:Grab an empty file folder, a pad of paper, pen, and glass of something cold to drink, and head for your comfy chair.
Step 2:Mark this title on the file tab: NOVEMBER.
Step 3:Make a list of the things that complete the following sentences:
It absolutely drives me crazy when my staff__________________
It frustrates me to no end when my equipment/trucks___________
I never have enough time in my work day to__________________
I consistently do these things on my list last, or only if they can no longer be ignored______________
Deliveries drive me crazy when____________________
Plant material inventory frustrates me when________________
I am disappointed at work when________________________
My customers push my buttons when they________________
Step 4:Place this page in the folder
Step 5:Make a list of the things that complete the following sentences:
I am really proud of my staff when______________________
I am really proud of this company when___________________
Time passes by SO quickly when I am busy doing________________
The best three things about my job are__________________
The best feedback I heard from customers this year is________________
The most surprising compliment we've had as a company is_______________
I can see the improvements we worked on last winter in________________
Step 6:Make a copy of this page. Place one in the folder. Post one where your entire staff can see it. Especially you. Every day.
Step 7:Schedule an entire day in November to retrieve this file, review its contents, and have a quiet, focused brainstorming day ALL BY YOURSELF.
Step 8:Add to this file whenever you come across an article you think will be interesting or helpful, pictures of plants, ideas, seminars of interest, events or shows of interest, leads on staff, suppliers, customers, equipment purchases, etc.

Reviewing the contents of your November File will help you remember your in-the-thick-of-the-season mindset, and help you plan your winter program for professional and business development.

By reminding yourself what's working and what's not at a time when you have time to think clearly. That way, you will be able to make a solid plan to make the most of your available resources and work effectively to take your business to the next level.

And, one of the best things about writing down your challenges is that it frees up brain space for other more pressing and present things, knowing that you will turn your attention to these challenges in the near future.

Jacki Hart can be reached by e-mail at