3 Tips to Focus On the Right Things That Creates Big Safety Program Results

As we’ve previously talked about, big safety program results benefit the company, the employees, and you. But as safety professionals, we have a lot of tasks to do. This can lead us to lose focus on the things that matter-things that have a big impact.

So let’s talk about 3 tips that will help you become focused on doing the right things. Let’s get into it!

Don’t Prioritize The Easy Stuff

At the start of our workday, it’s tempting to just sit at our desk, open our computer, and answer e-mails and calls. The reason for this is because these tasks are the easy stuff.

Our brains like to stay comfortable and do these menial tasks. And our brains also trick us to think that, once we’ve accomplished these small tasks, we have done a lot of work. Thus, making us stuck doing the easy stuff.

But if you continue doing the easy stuff, it might become a bad habit to break. So, think about this, 6 months from now and you look back on your accomplishments, have you really done anything significant? Something that can be bragged about in your portfolio? So, break the cycle. Don’t prioritize the easy stuff.

Spare Time Everyday for Action Plans

So, now that we’ve pushed the easy stuff out of the way, let’s talk about the things that we need to focus on: continuous improvement programs. Continuous improvement projects enable you to generate a track record of big results that will look good on your portfolio.

But, in order to create these programs, you’ll need to break them down first into action plans. An action plan is a scheduled list of tasks that contains details on how to complete a program or project.

So, instead of doing the easy stuff first, prioritize planning and implementing these action plans. If you think that your schedule is too loaded, remember that not everything on your to-do list is urgent. So make time every day for action plans.

Let Data Guide You In Creating Projects

Once you’re focused on the right things, which are the improvement projects, how do you know which project to do first? Well, rely on the data you currently have.

To do so, create a list of all the projects that you currently have and those that you want to do. Then, create a matrix for this list of projects by rating them by how big their impact is and how easy it is to do.

Once the matrix is done, you’ll want to do first the easiest projects that have the biggest impact. Because once completed, this will give the boost, the energy, and the confidence to tackle the harder projects on your list.

Take Action

To learn how to create a continuous improvement program and action planning process, sign up for my upcoming Intensive.

This will be 3 sessions that will dive deep into creating an effective program so you are ALWAYS working on the right things and are contently making improvements and building that career portfolio.

Just go to TheSafetyGeek.com/CIP to learn more about it and to enroll in this live event. I can’t wait to see you in class.

And you can check out the 1st and 2nd part of this podcast series here:

How to Stop Working on Everything and Start Working on The Right Things

Safety Brye: [00:00:00] In safety management, it's very easy to walk into work, check your inbox or mailbox, whatever you wanna call it and start getting to work on everything that has fallen into your lap for that day. You 100% can fill your day just dealing with emails, phone calls, and mail, like a customer service rep, but that is busy work.

So let's get to it.

Hey, there, safety friends. Welcome to the safety geek podcast. I'm Brye Sargent CSP and 20 year safety professional. After spending years training safety leaders across the globe for a large corporation and creating safety programs from the ground up, over and over again, I am now sharing my

[00:01:00] processes and strategies with you. At the safety geek, you will learn how to manage an effective safety program that increases your management support and employee engagement all the while helping you elevate your position and move up in your career. If you're ready to step into the role of a safety, influencer and leader, you're in the right place.

Let's get to it. Hello! Hello! Hello, my safety friends. Thank you so much for joining today. This is a continuation of our little mini training that I started a couple episodes ago. Now, before we get started, I do wanna share with you an upcoming class that I am offering. So on August 9th, 10th and 11th, it is a three part series.

I will be hosting a continuous improvement intensive. So if you like, what we've been talking about, this is for you. We are going to dive deep into

[00:02:00] creating an effective continuous improvement program. An action planning process. At the end of the three sessions, you will have everything you need to start focusing on safety improvements and build that track record of bragable results.

And most importantly, it's a repeatable process that will make your work life so much easier. So pause this podcast right now and go to thesafetygeek.com/CIP to sign up and to see all of the details it is going to be a blast. Well, I kind of geek out about safety training, so , I think it's gonna be a blast.

Okay. So speaking about continuous improvement today, we are talking about working on the right projects. So here's the thing that you need to understand. The human

[00:03:00] brain likes to stay comfortable. Its homeostasis state is all about doing things that are easy and comfortable and avoiding things that are hard or painful.

that is what all your brain does. It just sits in your head going, let's do the comfortable stuff and let's avoid the hard stuff. And this is why when you approach your work, you are drawn to your inbox and your email, cuz those things are very easy to do. And they're easy to like cross things off your list, right.

And it makes you feel productive. And the thing is we are creatures of habit. So when we keep doing the easy right in front of you stuff, right, because it's easy, your morning routine then becomes this habit loop. Of non-essential tasks. So what's crazy about this is that it feels like you're getting a lot done and that the work that you're doing is important. I mean, I totally get it

[00:04:00] an inspection and observation in a team meeting, they all seem important, but I love the saying that if it won't matter in six months, then it doesn't matter today. So when you look at that work, would it matter in six months? Six months from now. When you look back at your accomplishments, if you kept doing what you were doing today, what will you have to show?

So unless you already have a very robust, continuous improvement project going, I would guess that your answer to that is it wouldn't be much. It would just be the day to day. You might get some improvement results because training and coaching and inspections, they will always give you some results.

What you focus on does improve. But like I've been talking about in this series, you just don't want little improvements. You want a track record, a portfolio, something tangible that you can actually brag

[00:05:00] about. So let's rethink your focus and get you working on the right things first. So I'm gonna share with you what a perfect day would look like in my world as a safety manager.

So when you have a robust, continuous improvement process in place, you will typically have a handful of projects that you are working on. And each of those projects has a detailed action plan with tasks listed in Dateline order. So in a perfect day, you walk into your office. And the very first thing you do are your daily rounds.

That's your coffee, your chit chat. You're building positive relationships. This is something that I actually teach in safety management academy. I believe it is part of culture building, and it is extremely important. But once you get to your desk and start your work, you don't open up your email. You don't check your

[00:06:00] voicemail and you might be thinking, no, what if there's an emergency?

Well, if there was an emergency, it would've been caught in your daily rounds. Somebody would've mentioned it to you. The first hour of your day needs to be spent on those action plans from your continuous improvement process. After one hour of action plan work, then you can go tackle your day to day stuff.

So when it's all said and done, if you're counting culture, building activities as a very important thing, which I would, you're only down 90 minutes to two hours of your day. But that is two hours of the most important items done for your day. How do you think you would feel if you start work at eight o'clock by 10:00 AM, you have got everything of the most important stuff done.

How would that feel? I know I would feel empowered. I would feel productive. I would feel confident.

[00:07:00] And to me it wouldn't matter what else happened for the rest of the day, because I already got my stuff done. Now you might be think. But Brye I can't spare five hours a week. You know, if you spend one hour day on your action plans or 10 hours, if you do another hour at the end of the day, that's another thing I suggest hour at the beginning hour at the end.

So five to 10 hours a week. And you're like, I don't have five to 10 hours a week. I call BS on that. Because there's a lot of day to day stuff that you're likely doing, that you can spread out to make more room. Like I've seen people doing inspections weekly, like full facility inspections every week.

They only need to be done quarterly, right. At the furthest away. Some people do them monthly and not everything that falls on your desk has to be done right now. I know what it's like, that email comes in and it's just like so tempting to answer it. Cause it's only gonna take a second. But that builds up. And then there's

[00:08:00] this thing called Parkinson's law. That the time it takes to do something actually expands or contracts based on the time you give it. So the problem is we give tasks way too much time to get done instead shorten it, and don't give yourself all of that time. And then you will still get them done.

The other problem I've experienced with this process is that a lot of people create action plans that are not doable. And that is something I will actually teach in this intensive is to make sure that your action planning process creates an action plan that can be done. That gives you a lot of wins and things to check off because too often, we don't break down the project plan

into easy little tasks leaving us feel like we have way too much to do and not enough time to do it. Okay. So that is how you

[00:09:00] focus on the right things is planning your day correctly, having your action plans already done, working on them first and then meeting your day to day. Okay. So now that you are focusing on the right things first, how do you know what those right things are?

Like I said, ideally, you'll have your continuous improvement process in place with the action plans that are actually telling you what the right things are. And you'll always have three to five projects going and action plans to work off of. But let's say you don't join the intensive. Let's say that you don't have a continuous improvement project in place.

How do you decide what to work on? Let's say you wanna get started today, right? So let the data guide you. And examine what you are spending your time on. So what I want you to do is make a list of everything that you feel you have to be doing. So that

[00:10:00] is first and foremost, when you're deciding what the right thing is to work on, get it all down on paper list, everything that you can possibly have in your head that says, this is what I should be working on.

This is what I have to be doing every day or every week or every month. I used to do this so much that I literally just turned it into an Excel spreadsheet and it ended up having like 200 items on the list. It was just craziness. But anyway, get it all down on paper and then anything that is a recurring task, meaning you do it more than once, could be an inspection, an audit, a training, things like that.

Cross that off the list. It's not that you're not doing them. We're trying to focus on the right things for you to take that first hour and focus on the right things. So cross off anything that is recurring. And then what I want you to do is circle anything that includes the words, create, develop, or implement.

These are usually a signal that it is a one time

[00:11:00] project, one and done, you get it done. And it's off of your list. Now for each project that you wanna complete. I want you to look at it and go, what is the impact of this project and how easy is it to complete? So give it a rating for impact and give it a rating for ease.

You can multiply them to get one number. You want to focus on projects that are really easy to do and give the biggest impact. First, an impact generally will mean the ROI of the project. What is the return on the investment to the company for that project or how many people are affected by that project?

Also, I want you to add a date for each project. How long has this project been on your radar? And this is so interesting because we're very good at coming up with ideas for improvements. So they kind of sit there and they stew

[00:12:00] in our brain for a while. Now, if it's been on your list for quite a while, what I want you to do is really examine if it is something that is actually worth doing or really needs to be done.

I tend to have a lot of projects on my list that the only person that cares whether or not these projects are completed are me. So if I am the only one that cares about it, these are not priority projects, but getting them done sometimes energizes me. So what I do to combat this is I build in what I call.

Get shit done blocks in my calendar. It is a two to three hour block every week. I even have it on my calendar is get shit done. Or I work on these projects that nobody cares about, but me. So that way they're still getting done, but they're not a priority project that are taking up that first hour

[00:13:00] or last hour of my day. If you examine these projects that have been on your radar for a while and you determine no they're valuable projects, these should be completed. They're going to have a good return on investment. You're going to compare them to the other projects with the same ease and impact rating. Right? So let's say that.

The impact on it. You gave it a five from one outta five and the ease you gave it a, a one like easy scale of one to five, right? And you have other projects that are rated exactly the same. Then the next determining factor as to which one you work on is going to be how long it's been on your list. And you're gonna do your oldest ones to your first ones, as long as they are still valuable projects, that there is a return on investment.

And that there is a really big impact on it. Now doing this, what this shows is that you're the type of

[00:14:00] person that actually gets projects done. But what it also allows you to do when you do the older projects first is it allows the new ideas to kind of stew a bit. And I love this term of like, I have an idea.

It sits in my brain. If I don't write it down, my brain will just constantly churn this idea over and over until I knock it out. But if I write it down, I get it outta my brain. My brain no longer thinks about it, but it does allow it to stew a little bit. And I slowly like look at it and consider different ideas about it.

Cuz sometimes when an idea pops in your brain, you think immediately it's a great idea. It's amazing. I gotta do it right. We need to, you know, have everybody wearing, I don't know, safety vests or safety glasses. I'll never forget. I had somebody like require hard hats in a room that had nothing falling in it.

And I'm like this, you're not saving anybody with having them wear hard hats, but they just thought it was an amazing idea.

[00:15:00] But anyway, you think that, and you think it's just gonna solve everything, but a lot of times when you let an idea, sit. More stuff, bubbles up and you realize, yeah, it's a good idea, but it's not the end.

All Beall. Maybe then you allow it to be prioritized in a logical manner instead of that emotional manner that you kind of feel when the idea first comes up. All right. So this is how I choose what projects to work on so that I make sure that I am focusing on the right things. First it's always ease and impact how long it's been on my list.

Right now. These are things that we're gonna go more in depth on in the C I P intensive. I also like to add another layer to this. When I'm building management support and employee engagement, that's actually something I go into in safety management academy. But the most important thing that you can do right now, walking away from this podcast is to switch your focus.

[00:16:00] Now, when you start your day, you always do the most important things first and stop yourself from checking that email and checking your voicemail. First thing in the morning, and always spend that first hour, hour and a half working on the most important things. And then the rest of your day is just golden, because you're gonna feel amazing.

Now, if you don't have a continuous improvement program or you're feeling like yours, just isn't up to snuff and you wanna create not just a C I P program. I think it's so funny when I say CIP P program, because it's continuous improvement program program. If you actually spoke it out, but whatever, and action planning process, then you definitely wanna sign up for the upcoming intensive.

So remember, just go to thesafetygeek.com/CIP this will be three sessions, and we will

[00:17:00] dive deep into creating an effective program so that you are always working on the right things and are constantly making improvements and building that career portfolio. Now I don't plan on presenting this information again for another year.

So you don't wanna miss out. The dates for this live event are August 9th, 10th and 11th at 3:30 PM. Eastern daylight time each day. And I know it's an intensive, but I also know that you need time to like absorb the material and fit it into your busy day. That's why I'm breaking it up over three days to make it more bite size, I guess, for you.

So go to thesafetygeek.com/CIP to learn more about it and to enroll in this live event. And I cannot wait to see you in class. And the best part is that I'm actually throwing in a bonus class a month later. So we're gonna go intense for three days and then a month

[00:18:00] later, we're gonna get back together again and we're gonna follow up.

And that way I can answer any questions that you have. You can ask any questions that you have. So that way, if you have any questions that come up as you're building your C I P you can bring them to this bonus session and I can help answer them. We can actually make sure that you're taking action on the intensive and all of that good stuff.

So just go to thesafetygeek.com/CIP to sign up and I will see you in class. Bye for now.

Hey, if you're just getting started in safety or you've been out this. For a while and are hitting a roadblock. Then I wanna invite you to check out safety management academy. This is my in depth online course that not only teaches you the processes and strategies of an effective safety management program, but how to entwine management support and employee participation throughout your processes. Are you ready to finally understand

[00:19:00] exactly what you should be doing and ditch that safety police hat forever. Then you have got to join me and your fellow safety scholars over at safety management academy. Just go to thesafetygeek.com/sma to learn more and to get started. That's thesafetygeek.com/sma

And I will see you in our next students only live session. Bye for now.

Highlights From This Episode:

  • How To Be More Effective Safety Leaders
  • What Needs To Prioritize To Have Big Impact
  • Effective Safety Action Plan
  • Importance of Safety Improvement Projects
  • How To Successfully Set Your Safety Goals

Links Mentioned:


You will never get to your goals., if you’re focused on busy work. You need to make sure that what you’re working on are the right things. So how do you prioritize and manage your work? Please share them on the comment below.

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Hi, I'm Brye (rhymes with sky)!  I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience.  Specializing in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture, I have trained and coached many safety managers, just like you, on how to effectively manage workplace safety in the real world.   I would love to help you too.

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