Life Lessons from Scheduling Production

I never aspired to be a production scheduler at any point in my life.  It makes sense to me that I’m not bad at it and that I enjoyed the anxiety-inducing, multitasking nightmare that it is.  But from every direction that my life took that I never thought it would, there’s something to take away.

1. No one has their shit together.

Seriously.  I worked at a foundry in the south that was one of many locations, nationwide and I recently left a small yet growing CNC manufacturer that produced high-dollar aerospace and ballscrew products that was lucky to gross a million bucks a month.  Both had plights in the upper managerial fields and all the way down to the cogs that made it happen like grinders and machinists.  There were gaps in company structure or rungs at the top so heavy the ladder nearly toppled.  There were groans and moans from the employees regarding policies, procedures, or the lack thereof.

From the outside, these places look like well-oiled machines.  They rarely are.  The ones that are make history.  I want my business to be one of those.

2. There’s no recipe for success.

Maybe you all already knew this.  But, for me, it became more and more apparent as I worked in manufacturing.  The presidents and managers and CEOs of these places either were marginally-educated, ordinary people who used their bare hands to make extraordinary things or they were people who ruled with a 1950’s style intimidation technique and piggy-backed off other employees’ successes.  Either way, if you consider what they were doing success, they mixed it up in totally different ways.

I realize that my success will be different and my recipe will be my own.

3. You have to dig in the dirt.

Sometimes it’s for your own grave, sometimes it’s to plant a seed with a kinetic energy you’ve never known.  But you really do have to start from the bottom.

Thera Writes was a half-hatched idea that came only as a necessity to my growing demand (read: family members who needed a new resume) and desire to track it.  I didn’t begin with branding, solid copy or a professional logo.  I made a WordPress account and wrote my damned heart out.

4. Time blocking and multitasking are can be BFFs.

This I am STILL learning.  I realized at work that if I tried to schedule production, keep up with my emails, do cleanup and administrative tasks, attend or schedule project meetings all in one day, I become nonproductive.  That is, I’d start so many tasks, I wouldn’t finish any.

I’m learning that working from home and being a mom can make you go insane.  I have to pick days that I’ll only clean the house, or do laundry, or work totally on my business.  If I try to supermom and bossbitch them all, I will fail at every single one and my kid won’t get what she needs from me either.

5. Saying thank you is important.

I remember when I was scheduling production down south.  The guys in the machine shop would get voluntold to work most weekends, leaving little to no time for them to be with their families.  Truth be told, most people I’ve met in production, when given the option to work overtime or have a weekend off will work.  These guys weren’t usually given an option, though.

Although this wasn’t flowed down from me, I felt compelled to let these people know that we, I, and the company appreciated their extra efforts.  Compensated or not, they were still trading in their free time for their jobs.  I would oftentimes take doughnuts in on a Saturday, just to thank them.  Although I didn’t ask them to come in, I appreciated their work ethic to come in.  It also ended up making my job easier to accomplish.

Any project, big or small, I try to be vehemently grateful for.  Although I am being paid for a service I do pretty well, this client chose me.  Whether they’re a friend, family member, a referral or just researched and found me to be the right fit, I am grateful.  Even if it’s just a hand-written note and a few business cards, saying thank you goes a very long way!

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