How do I get out of here before 8 p.m.?

Dear Ken Keller:

I’m swamped and overwhelmed. How can I take back control of my workday so that I am not getting here when it is dark, driving home in the dark, and in between, missing lunch and never being able to finish even half of a cup of coffee before it gets cold?

Mike D.

Dear Mike,

Probably the best thing you can do for you is to sit down and write a list of things to stop doing. When you finish this task, keep one copy on your desk, have a smaller version for your wallet or shirt pocket, and consider putting one up on the mirror in your bathroom so you can see it in the morning and evening.

Having those visual reminders around you will help you stick to your list.

Many owners confuse activity and being busy with discipline and focus on the results that matter most to their own company.

What are you going to stop doing in your business? The following ideas should jump-start your thinking.

Stop operating without a daily to-do list. Prioritize it before the day starts and reprioritize at midday for maximum productivity.

Stop thinking you can work 168 hours a week; set the same consistent “I’m walking out of here” hard stop time every day. This will force you to get the most important things done first.

Stop running the business without a key metrics dashboard; create one and use it every day.

Stop putting off fixing your biggest business problems. Write these issues down, put a dollar value on each one, create an action plan and a deadline for each step, and get at it.

Stop putting off difficult conversations about people in your company, your vendors and clients. Make a list of the people that are not doing what you want done, write down what you want changed and have the conversations.

Stop tolerating having a place of work that is not “tour worthy.” People like to work in a clean and organized facility.

Get rid of clutter and unnecessary and unneeded files, paper and electronic.

Stop spending so much time at your desk. Spend more time with employees, vendors and clients.

Stop trying to be perfect. Good enough usually works.

Dear Ken Keller:

I’ve noticed that my accounts receivable number is creeping up. It’s getting to the point where I am uncomfortable with what is happening. Can you provide some thoughts on how to deal with this?

Leslie T.

Dear Leslie,

There are likely several things going on at once that may be contradictory. Your firm could be adding clients, and that growth could be responsible for the increased receivables. Or your current clients could be ordering more from your company and the side-effect is higher receivables. Or your clients could be taking longer to pay. Or a combination of all three things could be taking place at the same time.

You need to review your client list, revisit the credit limits that are in place, check for any unusual (meaning drawn out) payment variations, and check your clients’ credit scores in case something is happening that your company is not aware of.

Keeping an eye on what is owed your company is not enough. Once you see something that is making you uncomfortable or uneasy, you have to take prompt action and follow up.

This is not something you can delegate. You need to be on top of your receivables as much if not more than the activities and results of your sales team.