Discipline Starts With Me

Discipline Starts with Me

How is the level of your discipline when it comes to your work? What about your employees?

The first step in learning to get more accomplished every day is realizing that you are accountable for your own actions.

Don’t like what’s going on in your business? Employees just aren’t hitting their goals? The shop is a mess?

A fun fact is that the more self control someone reports to have the happier they report their lives to be.

Let’s take a quick tour of how inserting a little more self-discipline into your day can have huge advantages.

Discipline Starts with Goals

If you have read anything I’ve written on this blog, you know I love clarity.

Goal setting is a fantastic way to set the bar where you want it to be. If you want to improve something, one the best ways to get that going is to measure and denote what needs to change.

Maybe you want to have your crews focus on eliminating downtime in the shop. You realize that every minute that they spend not producing something, is another minute they are not generating revenue.

Yet, when you walk around the shop you see your embroidery operators unbagging dress shirts, or your screen-printing press operators in the screen room looking for the underbase screen.

You may even have processes in place to handle this stuff. It’s the discipline problem that creates these situations.

Getting your crews to understand the “why” things matter is sometimes the hardest part.

Setting Realistic Goals

Therefore, you should include your team in on the discussion on why you are creating the goals in the first place. Realistic goals happen when we include the teams that are doing the work.

If you don’t want your embroidery operators unbagging garments, who is doing the work?

Personally, I like the receiving crew to handle that function, as they are already touching the shirts when they check them in. The challenge you have to solve is the “when” are they going to do that task, and do they have enough time themselves? It’s great to have a process, but if it breaks down where there is some stress applied to it, then it is not much good. Get this team some help, so the disciplined rule becomes reality.

Furthermore, if you don’t want your print operators back in the screen room chasing down screens, have you defined who does that task?

Ideally, all of the screens for tomorrows jobs should be staged today with the orders next to the press before anyone leaves. This only happens with good communication, teamwork and a process that everyone has the discipline to stick to. The breakdown for this usually happens with the art approval process or the art department not sending the files early enough. Are you working to resolve that?

Make Sure You Measure

“What gets measured gets improved” is a tried and true statement in any industry. For folks in the decorated apparel industry space, it definitely works. Yet again, only if you are consistently measuring and verifying that the data you are collecting is accurate.

Own Up to Flaws

Quick tip: nobody is perfect.

I’m not. You aren’t either.

However, most people walk around with this air of perfection and unwillingness to admit to being wrong or vulnerable. We all have our imperfections and bonehead mistakes. I know I make plenty.

Even little things can get magnified beyond our control sometimes.

For example, what happens when nobody cleans up that dripped splat of ink on the floor? Sure enough, some unwilling person in the shop will track that all the way from the shop and into the front office, leaving footprint marks on the floor and carpet. Did anyone want to do that?

Of course not.

But the lack of discipline in cleaning up after yourself has now caused a bigger problem.

Flawed Logic

This sometimes can cost you a ton of money. Don’t think so?

Let’s look at a rampant problem in our industry: cloning orders to “save time”. You’ve seen this I’ll bet.

This is where a salesperson or customer service rep clones an entire order to save themselves the time to reenter the information. Except they forget to change some information from the old order to the new one. This is how jobs are shipped with the wrong quantities, with wrong art, or even wrong shipping information.

The lack of discipline here is obvious as nobody proofread the job before sending it through.

Personally, I don’t care how many minutes it saves in creating an order, cloning orders are always bad news.

Remove Temptations

We’ve already established the people aren’t perfect. That I’m sure we can agree.

But what if as the leaders in your shop you removed the temptations that cause the greatest problems?

What am I talking about here? Locking down Facebook or other social media during work hours. No eating on the production floor. (Believe it or not, I still see this when I’m visiting shops. How big of an impact do you think that Cheetos orange smear on a shirt do you think will have with your customer?) No headphones or earbuds while working. Having a dress code for workers.

I know it seems silly to have to police our staff on this stuff, but you would be surprised at the levels of inactivity or communication problems that exist because people can do whatever they want.

Does this seem draconian to you? Maybe.

But if there is a discipline problem in your shop with some of this stuff you might consider a change.

Create New Habits

Change is hard. It takes work, bravery, and discipline to make it work.

However, do yourself a favor and break things up into smaller bits. Keep things simple.

For example, I used to have a manager that worked for me that was constantly late. The solution, as obvious as it was, that worked was to just have him leave fifteen minutes earlier than he was leaving to get in at the right time that was designated. This meant just adjusting his alarm clock that fifteen minutes backward.

The discipline was doing it every day and not hitting the snooze button.

If you don’t want embroidery operators opening bags, or press operators digging around in the screen room…then you have to create new habits in your shop for these actions to get handled earlier by another person.

7 Steps For Daily Excellence

  1. Get plenty of rest. People don’t put enough emphasis on getting some quality sleep. How can you be your best at work if you are up all night? Got a party-hearty crew that works for you? How is their hangover helping in the morning when you have jobs to get out?
  2. Prioritize your work. Put first things first. Don’t work on the easy stuff first. Work on the most important. Delegate anything you can.
  3. Learn to say “No”. New habits accelerate when you don’t backslide into those bad old habits. Also, don’t feel that you have to take every order that walks in the door. Concentrate on profitability, not being busy. Think about value.
  4. Learn from the past. Did you make a mistake? Can you learn why it happened? Take a deep dive and figure out how to make it better or improve something so it doesn’t happen again.
  5. Uncomfortable experiences are ok. Feeling nervous or anxious about starting something new? Congratulations! You aren’t a robot. Give yourself permission to be ok with new results. New experiences can kickstart creativity or lead to new ventures. Be open.
  6. Visualize awesomeness. Before you start, take a moment and think about what success looks like. Picture yourself in that scenario. Get mentally prepared. Self-actualization is a great method for channeling your mental motivation.
  7. Block off time. There are only so many minutes in the day. Block off time for things that are crucial to getting accomplished. Use a calendar.


“Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.” – Carol Burnett

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucious

“It always seems impossible until it is done.” – Nelson Mandela


I Need Your Help

The History of Screenprinting

You’ve been there.

At some industry trade show or networking event. Someone casually asks you,¬†“Hey, how did you get into t-shirt printing anyway?”

That’s the story I want you to tell in this eBook, “The History of Screen-printing”.

While I think someone may probably write a definitive version of the technical aspects of the industry, to me, the real power is with the people that are doing the work.

Your story needs to be told.

Imagine how much fun it is going to be to read everyone’s journey in this business?

I’m not selling the eBook. It will be available FREE on my website once it’s published.

But it will never make it into book form unless your story gets it’s own chapter. All you have to do is click the button below and take the survey. Fill out as much as you like. You can upload pictures or images.

Want to get prepared? Here are the questions I’ll be asking:

  • How did you get into this industry?
  • What was significant then?
  • Who influenced you?
  • Tell an inspiring or funny story about the industry.
  • What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started out?
  • Parting thought. What do you want others in the industry to know?

That’s it.

I can’t wait to hear your tale.

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