By Christine Corelli
In the past, contractors enjoyed a little downtime during the year—especially if they were located in a cold climate. In today’s construction environment, there’s no such thing as downtime. Fortunately, most contractors are busy. Some are way too busy and challenged with finding methods to manage their time and maximize their productivity. Sound familiar?
Work and tasks come at you from multiple sources all year long. You have a daily barrage of emails, texts, messages, and meetings you have to attend, materials to order, and bids you have to create or review. You have multiple priorities and competing priorities.
Although modern technology is helping contractors improve productivity on the jobsite and in running their businesses, the workload itself is complex and all the to-do’s are a real problem for an overwhelming number of contractors these days.
Take heart! There’s new ultra-sophisticated technology on the horizon that we can’t even imagine at this time. These technological systems, software, and gadgets will dramatically change how we do business, provide us with solutions, and help us in our efforts to manage our time and increase our productivity. For now, here are 10 tips that can make a big difference in personal productivity.
1. Get organized! Your alternative is to agonize over the constant feeling that you are running around doing a lot, but not getting the results you want and need. Organizational skills are among the most important things every construction company owner, project manager, and superintendent should have. Whether it be your Outlook calendar, iphone, ipad, or whatever else they have out there now, you need to know what you’re doing each day and when you’re already booked in the future. These tools help you to know how much time you have to complete things and can help you to plan.
2. Plan meticulously. Meticulous planning is the how the most productive people get things done. Before starting a project create a detailed plan that will be your blueprint on how you are going to accomplish the job. Include schedules for workers, materials needed, logistics, etc. The web-based project management applications and scheduling software can improve your personal productivity dramatically.
3. Prioritize your to-do’s each day, at the beginning of the day, or the night before. It is the most basic time management technique yet not everyone takes “First Things First” seriously. Decide when it is best to perform this prioritization with your to-do list, and do it habitually.
Don’t become overwhelmed when you see all that needs to get done. Decide which is the most urgent, which will bring about immediate positive results, which would be most cost-effective or profitable, or what the consequences could be if the task doesn’t get done. Prioritized to do-lists should be completed by the close of business or moved over to the list for the next day. Time is crucial. Make every effort to refrain from having more priorities than are humanly possible to do.
Make time for the priorities in your personal life as well—family, friends, health, etc. If you don’t, you will not feel your life is in balance, and you will be frustrated—which impedes productivity.
4. Expect and manage shifting priorities. The complexity of construction with its constant shifting priorities is a challenge. Expecting them helps. Breathe and go with the flow.
5. Communicate effectively. Lack of communication or miscommunication is one of the biggest timewasters and causes of project derailment. If you receive an email or text, respond ASAP. If you receive a voice mail, return the call ASAP. Keep customers and workers informed. It takes 3 seconds to send a text. If you are not sure of customer expectations, ask. Follow up. When you give directions ask afterwards, “Is everyone clear?” “What questions do you have?” Make sure to ask these questions after you delegate. And delegate as much as you can. If you’ve hired the right people, you shouldn’t have to worry whether things are getting done. Also, consistently ask workers how the company and workers can be more productive and effective on the jobsite. If you don’t ask, they won’t come forward. You might even hold a contest for the best idea.
6. Manage your email. Although more people are using text these days, as it is fast becoming the preferred method of communicating, recognize that how you handle your email greatly affects your level of productivity. Skim your email each morning and read only those that are important. Be sure to use helpful tools and features such as “flagging” or “high-importance.” If you need a reply put “Please Reply” in the subject. If something is important—put IMPORTANT in the subject line.
7. Nip problems in the bud. Bring any issues regarding prework checklists to light early so that you can detect them in a timely manner, and avoid getting into crises mode. Ask, “Is there anything I should know about?” Be proactive in every way possible to prevent getting bogged down with minor detail issues and prevent becoming overwhelmed, stressed out, and ineffective.
8. Make sure your workers receive the training they need. Don’t treat training as an expense, but an investment in your future. Take safety training seriously.
9. Establish good habits and rituals. Habits and rituals play an important role in time management, personal productivity, and life-balance. The benefits of these are that they help you to become conditioned physically, mentally, and workwise. They create structure in your day and reduce stress by providing you with a feeling of control. Examples include going to the gym before work and taking a day off once a month to regenerate.
10. Manage your energy. Keep things in proper perspective. Don’t let set-backs get you down. If you feel stressed or overwhelmed, envision a project done. Don’t forget to eat healthy and deep breathe. Take good care of yourself!
Personal productivity isn’t rocket science. Neither is time management. Find what works for you and do it. Remember, “Knowing what we should do and doing it are two very different things.” Just do it!
About the author
Christine Corelli is a conference speaker, workshop facilitator, and business columnist. She has worked with an abundance of construction contractor companies and been a featured speaker at industry associations. For more, visit www.christinespeaks.com. To contact her for an upcoming meeting, conference, or special event, call 847.477.7376.
Modern Contractor Solutions, July 2019
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