What To Do When There Is Nothing To Do

After speaking with business owners during the winter snow blast that affected much of the Midwest and South, the question came up: “What do we do when there is nothing to do?” The power was out, employees could not make it to work, and (in the South) we simply didn’t have the right tools. (Round point shovels used to move soil just don’t move a lot of snow.)

As the question was asked, my joking reply was, “Work on your Disaster Management Plan.” I mentioned that I had a running list of things to purchase, tasks to complete, and changes to be made on my property when this was over.  Even though I had a backup generator and had recently tested it, I needed to upgrade the transfer switch and place the appropriate circuits on it.  For several days every time something didn’t work I wrote it down, then applied a course of action to it.  On day three the pipes froze; the course of action this spring was to install heat tape and insulation for the pipes. So on it goes.

Although you may not feel you need a formal Disaster Management Plan, a simple checklist can be valuable. These plans have become very popular, but my guess is many companies couldn’t find it if they were asked. We all have that mental list of things to do when we have time; read the business book that has been sitting on your shelf, or organize the storage room! No time like the present!

A colleague in Minnesota asked if I was keeping warm. My reply was yes, but we had five inches of snow and more on the way. He laughed and said, “We call that Tuesday up here.” My responding question was “Have you installed air conditioning in your lake house yet?” He laughed, “No,” but understood where I was going with the question. I did anyway. “When it hits one hundred this summer, remember we call that Wednesdays down here.”

We are all faced with different kinds of adversity, and one person’s adversity is another person’s opportunity. There is always something to do; even waiting is a form of something.  If all you can do is wait, add some contemplation to your task list. Try to enjoy the break or pick up that book. For businesses, moving to cloud-based software is critical before outages occur; whether an ERP, an app-based payroll (since missing payroll is simply not an option!), or an HR system, when you have the right systems in place the waiting can be much more peaceful.


Jack Garrett leads from his nearly thirty years of executive field operation success. His teams of hundreds of personnel completed projects from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada and in nearly all of the continental United States. Jack now consults with seven- to ten-figure landscape, snow, and facility services companies on improving their business systems and their management quality-of-life, including via BOSS LM Software.

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