Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Surviving The Changing Custodial World

September 19, 2010

Countless employers are asking their employees to do more with less, maximize resources and continue to provide the most efficient services possible for customers.

Many custodial managers find themselves facing constant change, learning curves, resolving issues with unknown variables on the spur of the moment, dealing with numerous daily emergencies, etc., and have minimal time left for necessary paperwork, planning, completing "to do" lists and so on.

Impacting Workflow

Today''s world of "do more with less" and/or "find creative ways to make it work because you can''t have additional resources" results in a work situation that is becoming a condition many are currently all too familiar with.

In this job market, and with concerns in the world overall, there are so many uncertainties and it seems work challenges are more plentiful now than ever before.

Of course, there is the human side of this issue: How do we accomplish these tasks successfully while preserving our well-being through rapidly changing work times?

Have A Nice Day

Here is a situational example many of us can relate to.

Jane was rushing to get ready for a meeting and ran to the store on her lunch break for meeting supplies.

At the register, the cashier commented, "Have a nice day."

Jane felt compelled to assure him that she wasn''t headed to the park or some other leisurely activity, but rather she was headed back to work.

The cashier replied, "With so many out of work, that''s a good place to be headed these days. Have a nice day."

With that comment, Jane felt like a cold bucket of water had been thrown on her and she realized that, even on hectic days, she loved her job.

The following are tips to help preserve perspective — without a bucket of cold water — through rapidly changing work times.

Maintain Good Relationships

Try to not alienate friends and family during tense work times.

Their support is needed even more during the bumpy times than the good.

Comfort can come from pets as well. Most pets will offer to help and some can even be persuaded to look interested in your random rant and might oblige the situation by tipping their head with enthusiasm and interest.

Reach out for the support that works best for you.

Stay Healthy

Do not turn to substances or habits that are likely to be unhealthy, possibly illegal, etc.

They are too costly to your life — and in the end they cause you way more problems than they seemingly solve.

Don''t get overtired and run down — sleep, exercise and eat well.

It''s easy to get caught up in the hectic pace, but what often happens is that

our immune systems weaken and a cold or some other ailment is usually the result.

Try to sleep soundly and for more than six consecutive hours at a time in order to perform at your best.

Adequate rest also helps with clearer thinking, which helps put everything else in perspective.

Make time to exercise.

That may mean walking to your building(s) instead of driving, parking further away from the building or taking the stairs instead of an elevator.

Be sure to eat healthy. Junk food may seem convenient, but it ultimately taps your energy.

Keep A Sense Of Humor

Find the humor in each situation.

Things fall into place better when we can laugh along the way.

While it''s important to strive to do well, some of our challenges happen because we take ourselves too seriously.

Likewise, some of our challenges come from others who take themselves too seriously.

Think how much more could be accomplished if both parties laughed together and found a mutual solution to a given challenge.

Keep Things In Perspective

To use the example from before and to expand on a scenario we can relate to, Jane''s to do list was lengthy and regularly expanding.

By 2 p.m. on a typical day, due to countless interruptions, she had barely accomplished any of her day''s goals.

She had also not had time for lunch and was beginning to feel an energy crash.

While rushing to a meeting, she noticed that her watch had stopped and her cell phone was telling her she had missed three calls.

She was getting frustrated as she fell more and more behind schedule.

Entering the building, she passed a custodian who shared an update about his mother who just had surgery.

Mom was struggling due to complications and had been moved to a specialized hospital almost an hour away.

It was difficult for the family to visit mom because winter weather made traveling extremely hazardous.

Once again, Jane had what felt like a bucket of cold water thrown on her as she realized family and health mattered much more than her watch, cell phone messages or any item on her daily to do list.

Sometimes we all tend to get so far off track from what really matters that we need that cold bucket of water.

Take Time For Something Else

Pursue outside hobbies, volunteer, partake in family projects … whatever helps you relax.

You need something else to think about besides work.

When you take some time for yourself, you''re likely to come back to your work more refreshed and more productive.

Therefore, you can still get just as much accomplished, but in less time.

Create Ways To Free Your Memory

If your mind always thinks about work, keep a notebook with you at all times to record an idea when it comes to you.

Sometimes that great idea comes at an inopportune moment, such as while driving home from work.

It is best to stop and jot the thought in the notebook.

Another approach: Call your office phone and leave the thought on voicemail.

Then, when you return to the office and get your messages, your thought is waiting for you.

If Something Works, Find More Uses

Mentioned above, you might choose to write or record a thought for your office.

The reverse of sending notes to the office is to bring notes home from the office.

A note at home may help you remember details so you don''t have to think about them as often during personal time.

It appears that doing more with less time and resources is becoming a way of life in the workplace, but it does not mean there has to be less of your sense of well-being in the process.

Use the tools in this article as they fit into your particular work needs.

Do more of what works; write down your thoughts to keep your memory free; focus on what is important: Family, friends, health, humor and hobbies; and all those other parts of who you are.

And above all, don''t forget to "have a nice day."

Carol Kobylanski, REH, began her custodial experiences with a summer college job over 30 years ago. She currently oversees custodial operations for all campus residential buildings, the student center, athletic facilities and many portions of the academic/administrative custodial campus'' needs at The College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio. Contact her at