Even though the public-at-large is rarely aware of it, funeral professionals work some of the most demanding schedules out there. From hours that are extremely unpredictable to work that can be physically and emotionally taxing, anything that you can do to improve your overall productivity and effectiveness will go a long way towards ensuring your longevity in the field.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled the following list of seven funeral profession “life hacks” that’ll improve your business productivity and your personal well-being. Give them a try today!
Funeral Business Growth
Encourage emotion to learn group dynamics.
Navigating family politics can be one of the most challenging aspects of the funeral profession, as understanding the relationships between different parties can be critical to getting things done. One simple way to figure out these connections? Get people together and encourage them to share stories about their loved one.
When people experience heightened emotional states — like grief, or even laughter — in groups, they tend to look at the person they feel closest to, whether to subconsciously comfort themselves or to pick up cues on appropriate responses to the situation. Use this to your advantage to suss out who the primary decision-maker in your family might be.
The psychology of sharing options.
Did you know that the order in which you share a series of items has an impact on what people remember later on? The “primacy effect” states that, when presented with a series of options, people tend to find the ones presented earliest to be the most memorable. Additional studies have confirmed the presence of a lesser “recency effect,” which gives a similar — but smaller — boost to items presented last in a sequence. Essentially, items that are shared in the middle of a series tend to get lost in the shuffle.
If you’re showing families a series of caskets, urns or service options, try starting with the one you think they’ll be most interested in, share less relevant options in the middle and end with a strong second contender.
“See one, do one, teach one.”
Continuing education is huge for funeral professionals, but retaining the information gleaned from online training and in-person seminars can be challenging.
To combat this effect, put the “see one, do one, teach one” rule into effect. Suppose you’re attending a training on a new styling technique. Studies demonstrate that to give yourself the best chance of retaining the technique, you should observe a professional using it, try it yourself and then teach somebody else how to do it.
Health and Lifestyle
An easy way to recover from night calls.
Overnight calls can be brutal for funeral directors — especially when they come after a day that’s already been filled with services, arrangement planning and other preparations.
One way to minimize this brutal transition is to expose yourself to bright lights as much as possible during the night and then do everything possible to protect yourself from sun exposure the morning after. Wearing sunglasses home from your call or taking a nap in a room protected by blackout curtains are too good ways to minimize your exposure to light.
The science behind this life hack comes from researchers in Seoul, who studied nurses working the night shift and exposed them to three experimental conditions: working in normal room light at night, working under bright lights from midnight to 5:00am, and working under bright lights in addition to wearing sunglasses home in the morning. Those who were exposed to bright lights and used sun protection in the morning experienced better sleep, greater alertness and better cognitive performance.
Protect yourself from this insidious productivity-killer.
Beyond the struggles of balancing daytime responsibilities with night calls, another major productivity sap for funeral professionals is one most people won’t suspect — dehydration. Though it may seem insignificant, research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology indicates that moderate levels of dehydration can reduce cardiac output by 15-20%, contributing to feelings of sluggishness, forgetfulness and fatigue.
To combat these insidious effects, protect yourself by stashing water bottles everywhere you can. Leave one in your car, in your office and in any area of the funeral home where you spend significant amounts of time (and can safely store consumables). If there are churches or other venues you visit frequently, consider leaving bottles there as well so that you’re never at the mercy of dehydration.
Prevent wrinkles with this 5-minute laundry trick.
If your funeral home still holds to a more formal dress code, you’re likely familiar with the challenges of maintaining a professional wardrobe. But did you know that there’s one small change you can make that will keep you looking sharper all day long?
Instead of immediately jumping into your clothes after ironing them, let them sit for five minutes. This allows the press to set and prevents new wrinkles from developing in your otherwise still warm clothing.
A new use for a household tool.
Another challenge that comes with professional dress is washing and drying delicate items. But instead of plugging up your sink for hand-washing or commandeering all the flat surfaces in your house to dry your delicates, head to your kitchen and grab… your salad spinner.
Use the basin of the spinner as a wash bucket then, when you’re finished, rinse delicate items like ties and bras in the sink before spinning them dry. The bulk of the moisture will be safely removed, cutting down your drying time and extending the life of your garments.
What other tips and tricks have you picked up in your career as a funeral professional? Share your favorite life hacks in the comments section below!