Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thinking outside the box...

I was asking for a checklist of things we do everyday, so that I could break it down and make different sections according to when things need to be done.  I did get the checklist, but I also got a route readiness checklist for the regulars.

 I guess it's helpful. 

It's got ideas for things that can help a brand new sub, and even just someone who's never done the route before.  I'm starting to realize though...after doing so much to make my route as easy as possible, it only works if the subs pay attention to it.  The whole point of doing the things to help them is so that there's no question of what things are or where things go, or how things should be done.  I realize that management is pushing them to be fast, get it done so you can do more, but when is it going to become a priority to deliver things correctly? 

Does this start when subs start brand new? 

We need to keep telling them, slow down for a second, pay attention, look, read, when you're feeling overwhelmed take a minute to calm down and regroup.  I remember when I was a sub, doing routes that I didn't know, sometimes with no map or current line of travel to go by.  Routes where you could try to follow the mail but the streets didn't have street signs.  It's not easy...in fact it's frustrating, scary, you get turned around and confused.  We didn't have cell phones when I was a sub, much less the option for GPS...that must be a lifesaver, lol.  

Since I became a regular I've always tried to leave good maps, directions, lists of things for the subs to know that will make things easier.  I've had maps that are color coded and laminated so they were easy to read and wouldn't get ripped over time.  The problem is, usually doing those things took me longer than the item would last.  I can't tell you how many times the maps got lost.  Where did they go?  Why am I missing red cards separators for my NBU's? 

Being organized is a HUGE help when you're out on the route.  It can save so much time, keep your things separated so your mail isn't getting mixed together, which stuff is still to be delivered, what stuff needs to be sorted when you get back to the office?  What do you do when you find something that needs to be delivered and you've passed it already?  I guess it's easy to take it for granted when you do the same route everyday.  Most regulars I know have a system, a routine, basic things they do every time they load up.  I know I do.  I have a routine for casing, when to pull my mail, when to load parcels, how to sort the parcels when I load them up so that when I get to a certain point on the route I know which parcels are next.  I may not do each thing at exactly the same time each day, but there's routine.  One thing to avoid as a regular, and subs too....being rigid. 

Each day is different. 

Be flexible

Try new things.  Give it time too. it may take a couple of days to get used to some things...other things a couple of hours, depends on how many repetitions you're doing.

When I first started wearing my scanner it was awkward.  It felt like it was bulky (back when we had the old scanners).  The thing is still a little heavy, tends to pull my pants down, lol.  But the advantage of wearing it is HUGE.  You ALWAYS have it with you, and you don't have to remember to grab it.  When you walk to the door if you've got a few packages you don't have to try to carry that, dropping it, fumbling.  My route is all NBU's so I also don't have to worry that I'll leave it laying on the boxes or dropping it (which I used to do a lot).  It only took one hour on the route to convince me it works for me.

Over the years I've tried so many new things.  Some worked, some didn't.  Some things work for certain routes but not others.  When I was on Rt 31 I pulled my mail down straight into the tray without using rubber bands.  It worked for me, and I was able to do the out the window boxes I had without holding a bundle of mail in my left hand while I was driving.  I couldn't do that on Rt 5 because I had so many little parks mixed in with my streets. 

Everything I do I have a reason for it.  Nothing is because it's just the way I was taught when I started.  It's easy to get in a rut.  If you don't like change it can feel unsettling, but realize that you're only costing yourself.  Your goal should be to think of something that would improve either your quality of service, or save you time without sacrificing quality.  I use color codes in my boxes.  You can find that post here.  The color codes save me tons of time over the months, and cost me very little time each day, while increasing my quality of service immeasurably (and saving my brain from trying to remember so much).  So many of my customers have stopped to tell me how much they appreciate not getting the wrong mail like they used to.  They've noticed.  And keeping track of seasonal deliveries and vacant boxes is so easy, it does take a few seconds when there's a change, but the time it saves overall it's absolutely worth it.  I'm constantly thinking of ways to improve.  Not only myself, but how I can help others.  That's why I started this blog.  I wanted to share with everyone in case you're having issues you need solutions for.  I'm not a know it all.  I don't have all the answers.  I just know that sometimes if you don't know there's an easier way you can just keep wasting time doing the same old thing.

What things do you do to save time?  We can all help each other in this if you take a few minutes and share.  Thank you!!

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