I have heard many people say, if your personal life is messed up, then your job or business duties are messed up. Frankly, that’s not true.

I know many an employee or business person who had lots of personal problems that did well at work. If you can’t win at home, it makes sense to try to win at work. A plumbing contractor I know just had his wife, daughter and son die within a three-year period. The poor guy seemed cursed, but he told me going back to work was his savior as he had to win somewhere. We all need to win now and then. If not, things seem hopeless and depression can set in. Here are some positive things you can do to win at work.

Establish realistic job production goals and stay focused on finishing on time. This is important for both management and field employees. Everyone likes to feel like they are doing a good job. If necessary, work in the field with a troubled employee to help create jobsite focus. Finding and hiring good people is expensive, so trying to save an employee is a cost-effective activity. However, bitching and barking at them helps contribute to the problem and is ineffective.

As an owner, you also have to win somewhere. Focus on winning in your business. Set goals in your business and leave your problems at home. Remember, winning is not about growth, growth, growth. Focus on the bottom line, not the top line. Sales growth may not be your friend. Every job you add requires more field employees, more cash, more marketing cost and risk. Instead, work at eliminating loser jobs. Subcontractors tend to do poorly on 25-30% of their work and you’d be surprised by the common characteristics low gross profit jobs have. Some contractors do well on large jobs, others not so much.

Different products may cause you more issues. Identify the low gross profit jobs and raise prices or eliminate them. The market is strong and finding employees is tough. Focus on the work where you make the most money.

Don’t enable people by feeling sorry for them and letting them miss time from work. Write them up and hold them accountable. Listen to their problem once, show empathy but don’t offer advice except to say it sounds tough. Encourage them to take action and move forward. Don’t let them turn work into a pity party. Emphasize that losing their job is not going to help the situation. Consider a specific agreed upon leave of absence for a one or two weeks until the person figures things out. If possible, it is better to let them take a leave of absence and rehire them.

Focus on craftsmanship. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi first described this phenomenon as flow: a few moments in time when you are so completely absorbed by an activity that nothing else seems to matter. Focusing on doing a good job and job satisfaction improves happiness and reduces anxiety. It’s good for us. A sense of accomplishment creates gratification.

Take to heart customer satisfaction. We tend to remember and focus on the negative customers rather than be positive about the satisfied ones. The vast majority of your customers are happy with what you do. You have provided a much-needed service.

Don’t let busy work drive you into denial. You cannot image how many contractors we meet who have simply put their head down and try to work their way out of their problems. There is an old saying that suggests you “put your nose to the grindstone and shoulder to the wheel.” In reality, this simply ensures you will have a sore nose and injured shoulder. Working smarter not harder is the key to your success. You work just as hard on the job you lose money on as the one you make money on. Denial can be a tiring disease. Sometimes it is easier to just keep working rather than look at job costing and face the truth. It is doubtful hard work alone is going to save you.

Successful people get done what is important. At first glance, this seems trite and simplistic, but is much harder than it seems. It requires you to determine what is important and then to stay focused on that goal. Not so easy with all of modern life’s distractions. I would encourage you to take a moment and list the things you want to accomplish. Then prioritize them from most important to least important. Pick one or two to go after and make a plan with action steps.