6 Wacky Thoughts to Avoid in Your Construction Office

Avoid these wacky thoughts so your construction business runs better

Wacky thoughts and things come at us from every direction. Things which make us do a double take. And thoughts which have us putting on the brakes.

Some wacky things are just there, and you can’t do anything about them. For instance, unexpected weather changes and natural disasters.

On the other hand, some wacky things are rather enjoyable, like magic shows and flash mobs. (This is among my favorite flash mob videos – check it out.)

Wacky thoughts to avoid

In your construction office (more likely in your head) there are some wacky thoughts which you’re better off avoiding. Look at them as the “forest of doom,” and avoid them. Your day and your office will run more smoothly when you come to your senses and take the path away from that dreadful forest.

Wacky Thought number 1

I’ll remember this, I don’t need to write it down.

Ouch!

Everything from the gift you need to purchase on the way home, to the great idea to improve your construction contracting business needs to find its way to the written page.

This article from Dustin Wax on Lifehack explains why we remember what we write. It’s fun to see his explanation of the mental Catch-22 involved. “In fact, it seems that writing anything down makes us remember it better. On the other hand, not writing things down is just asking to forget. It’s a kind of mental Catch-22: the only way not to have to write things down is to write them down so you remember them well enough not to have written them down.” 🤔

 

Thus, here’s the kicker, writing it down means writing it down. Put down your phone, your iPad, your laptop, or other digital device and write it down! Read the article, you’ll see why pen and paper win out.

Wacky Thought number 2

Of course I’ll remember where I put this, it’s important.

When you find yourself at a loss concerning your ability to remember where you placed something – on purpose – it may be because you didn’t practice well enough what scientists call “effortful processing.” The thing is, if you don’t purposefully think about the placement in the first place, there’s no way you’re going to remember it later.

At first glance (and keeping Wacky Thought #1 in mind) you might think writing down the location would be the final solution. Turns out, you’re only partly right. Because there is every chance, over time, you’ll forget where you wrote it down. If you’re placing an object in a “safe place” because you’ll only need it every six to twelve months or sometime in the future, it’s possible you’ll need a better memory keeper.

Crazy as it sounds, that place is your brain. Yet, that depends on your ability to participate in effortful processing. And, writing it down can be helpful if it is a part of your purposeful processing.

It might look like this, “I’m putting Mom’s wedding ring in the treasures box at the back-right corner of my closet BECAUSE I want to give it to my niece in the future and it is a real treasure.” Write down where you put it and why you put it there. That will be a good memory boost.

And, if you do forget, here are some steps you can use to try to find your lost object.

  • Instead of panicking, sit down to think.
  • Let others know what you’re searching for, they may have seen it.
  • Use your own thought processes in your favor. If you were putting the object up today, where would you put it?
  • Yet, don’t assume it won’t be in a particular place because you would never put it there.
  • Conduct your search as if you’re a detective searching a crime scene – inch by inch.

If all else fails, buy another one. If you’re like me, you’ll find the original a day or two later. 😜

Wacky Thought number 3

This is a task I do pretty regularly, there is no need to put it on the calendar.

Even some daily tasks should be included as a part of your working calendar. “Pretty regularly” is too vague. Too vague in every sense of the word. Once a week tasks can be easily forgotten if you don’t have a calendar reminder.

Rashelle Isip, a professional organizer, productivity consultant, coach, and author, offers insight concerning why you should schedule tasks into your calendar.

She says:

  • Turn a task into a tangible item.
  • Focus on your work.
  • Have a record of your work.
  • Practice your time management skills.

You can see her complete article here. Check out the 3 tips she gives for scheduling tasks into your calendar.

Wacky Thought number 4

Why would I bother creating a checklist; I know the steps involved.

I am and have always been a fan of checklists. So, you would think I would have a lot to say on this subject. Truth is, I do.

Yet, I think Brett & Kate McKay, of The Art of Manliness, have said it all, better than I could. Check out their article here. They even include information concerning how to make an effective checklist.

Plus, I love that in the section of their article titled, The Power of Checklists in Action, they have a subsection titled, Construction.

Wacky Thought number 5

It won’t take long to check out (name your favorite social channel) after I make a post there.

My guess is, if you’ve had this thought, you’ve already followed it up with these words, “this time.”

As my mom, who was ever the lady, (yet could on occasion be brought to the breaking point of frustration) would have said, “My, my, I do believe that is a bit of horse do-do.”

There are 3 ways to avoid wasting time on social channels:

  1. Avoid them.
  2. Use tech to block them.
  3. Schedule them.

Using social channels to market your construction business is a good thing. On the other hand, using social channels to waste time . . . well, you know – a bad thing.

Because, liking, commenting, and being “social” on social channels is a good thing, it can sometimes be a challenge to know where to draw the line. What I’ve found that works best is to schedule social time. When the time is up, you’re done. You can schedule social for once a day, or for several times a day. Or, get someone else to help you or do it for you. 😉

Wacky Thought number 6

I’m just going to plow through this project until I get it done, I don’t have time for breaks.

I know, I’ve felt it too. There is a deadline, or a challenge, or something tangible on the table meaning getting this project done soon is imperative. Yet, taking breaks can have the effect of helping you do better work without wasting time.

Meg Selig, writing at Psychology Today, provides a summary of recent research and thinking on the value of taking breaks. She lists and explains 5 important reasons.

  1. “Movement breaks” are essential for your physical and emotional health.
  2. And, breaks can prevent “decision fatigue.”
  3. Plus, breaks restore motivation, especially for long-term goals.
  4. Breaks increase productivity and creativity.
  5. “Waking rest” helps consolidate memories and improve learning.

She also mentions when not to take a break.

She goes on to provide information concerning how to plow through when you really can’t take a break.

Great Thought

If you’ve walked into the “forest of doom” (and who hasn’t at one time or another) you can still find a path out. Practice avoiding these 6 Wacky Thoughts and see how much better your day, week, and office runs.

 

It is our desire this article (among our growing library of construction-centric informational articles) is helpful in assisting commercial construction contractors build better building businesses. http://www.schulteandschulte.com/blog/

Providing Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs. Call us! 866-629-7735

Priority Planning in Your Construction Business

Priority and prioritizing set you up for the win.

Priority Planning in Your Construction Business

Priority – it’s a task

“I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”  Former U.S President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Prioritizing your daily tasks is simply smart business. You greatly lessen the chance you’ll get caught up in busy-work and heighten the chance you’ll get something of significance accomplished. That’s it in a nutshell.

The first step is to understand the importance of your calendar and your to-do list. There are those who are adamant that ditching your to-do list and using a calendar alone is imperative. And there are others who espouse using both calendar and to-do list. No one I know of suggests ditching your calendar. Most people have a fairly good idea concerning how to use their calendar. Fewer understand how to get the most functionality from their to-do lists.

A while back, I wrote this blog, Before You Give the Paper To-Do List a Pink Slip Consider This. It is full of information you can use to up your game when it comes to taking full advantage of a to-do list.  Yep, there’s more to it than simply jotting down a few things you can later check off.

As you can see, I’m still firmly in the camp which espouses using both a calendar and a to-do list.

A winning priority

I would like to add one more piece to this prioritizing puzzle. Whether it comes from your to-do list or from your calendar choose one WIN for the day.

Look at it this way. What is the one thing you need to complete today which will move you forward in the way you’ve already determined to go? Yeah, I know you have lots of different chunks on your plate. Which one is most important? This doesn’t mean you won’t do any of the other items. It does mean you will (most days) get one important task done or started.

How we do it

Here at Schulte and Schulte we address it this way. Every weekday morning in our virtual huddle each of us states the one thing we plan to do for the day which will be a win. And, it isn’t just any old win. It needs to be a win which reaches our companies stated goal of assuring that our clients are equipped to “run with the big dogs.”

And, this is what it sounds like – “I’m going to help X company run with the big dogs by completing all their billing for the day.” Or it might sound like this, “I’m going to help X firm run with the big dogs by meeting with them to clear up the payroll issue they’re having now.” Or the words might be, “My plan is to help our clients run with the big dogs by writing a blog post which helps them be better at prioritizing.” 😉

Determining task priorities

Determining your priorities will obviously be based on your long-term goals and your strategy for reaching them. (We’ll get to that in parts two and three of this series.) Yet, there is a quick way to determine which of your daily tasks should be placed in the win column for the day.

Looking at both your to-do list and your calendar ask these questions:

  • What is due today?
  • Does this really need to be completed or is it a waste of time?
  • How much of this have I already completed?
  • Can I shift that task to someone else?
  • How many people will be affected if I do or don’t get this task done?
  • Have I put this off in the past?
  • Is this task part of an ongoing project or a one-off?

One other useful tool for determining daily priorities is to always keep in mind what is best for your clients. I know that sounds trite. Yet, there are times when we become so caught up in the mechanics of what must be completed, we forget the reason they must be completed. And, when considering our clients’ needs is injected into the equation the determination becomes somewhat easier.

Prioritize your daily tasks for the win

The likelihood of getting one significant thing done goes up exponentially when you put thought into prioritizing your daily tasks.

This has been the first in a 3-part series dealing with prioritizing in your construction contracting business. In the second part the information will center on prioritizing your business goals. And, in the third part we’ll take a look at planning for the interim – the strategy part.

It is our desire this article (among our growing library of construction-centric informational articles) is helpful in assisting commercial construction contractors build better building businesses.

Want to know more about us or about how we can assist you? Get in touch here. Or call Toll Free: 866-629-7735

How to Put the Schedule Back in Your Schedule

Schedule your day to improve your productivity.

Schedule your day to improve your productivity.

Show your schedule who is boss

You’re a busy construction contracting business owner and you feel the pinch. Your schedule can be your best friend, or it can bite you in the butt.

Do you remember the TV show Monk? Do you recall how Monk frequently described his abilities this way, “It’s a gift, and a curse?” The same can be said about the very real situation of being in the construction industry. One of the best parts of being the owner of a construction company is the variety and the constantly changing set of challenges. Yet, the worst part of being in the construction industry is the variety and the constantly changing set of challenges. It’s a gift . . . and a curse.

The simple action of building a set of routines into your daily activities gives you the best chance of showing your schedule who is boss. Get this right, and your calendar becomes your ally rather than your enemy.

Anchor your schedule – in the morning

The first step in dealing with your variable schedule issues is to design a workable routine. By scheduling at least some amount of routine into your day you have a better chance of conquering the end of day what-the-heck-happened feeling.

By starting and ending your work day with a set of routines (some describe it as rituals) you are better able to focus on the daily issues which are sandwiched between them. The morning routine and the end-of-day routine become your anchors.

Your lifestyle, your personal attributes, and your business needs should all be considered when developing your routines. Do you need a morning routine which will add to your peaceful meter? Or do you need one which will be motivational? Do you need to have one routine follow another? Think of them as optimization routines and you can begin to see how important they are to your day.

In fact, done correctly, your morning routine will give you momentum, not take it away. And again, done correctly, your end of day routine will give you “mental permission” to shut it down and enjoy your family, friends, and “play time.”

This article from Forbes names 6 morning rituals designed to make you productive all day.  And, this Business Insider piece about athletes is fun, yet may give you food for thought concerning creating your own morning (or pregame) rituals.

Anchor your schedule – at the end of day

End of day routines are a signal to the brain. They let you know it’s time for a specific mindset, a different action, or change of pace. They act as triggers, if you will, to aid you in more effortlessly getting ready for something else to take place.

On the dodoist blog there is an excellent article about ways to close out the day.

Look it over. It is full of great information. You’ll see that something as small as clearing your desktop (both physical and digital) is a good way to let your brain know you’re moving on to something else. Among other things, you’ll learn about the “doom loop” and how to deal with it, plus how you can end your work day on a high note even when you might otherwise feel as if it has been a less-than-productive day.

Schedule the rest of the day

No, I don’t mean fill in the blocks. The blocks tend to be filled in with other people’s needs, with appointments, with . . . well, you know, the stuff-of-calendars. Yet, I do offer these three suggestions to make your schedule (and therefore your business) better equipped and more productive.

  1. Be sure to schedule in regular (make it daily) time for tasks that improve your construction contracting company. You’ve heard it before, but I’m throwing it in there again. Work on your business, not in it.
  2. Set aside at least an hour each week for continuing education.
  3. Understand the difference between tasks and events. Tasks can take place anytime during the day, whereas events have a specific starting and ending time.

Remember, even though you assign different levels of importance to each of your tasks, your calendar doesn’t. An hour is an hour no matter how you’ve spent it. Determining ways to include or remove tasks or events from your daily schedule based on their importance moves you from constantly scrambling to regularly nailing it.

Schedule the time

Schedule the time (make the time) to include calendar maintenance as a part of your daily routine. Making your calendar work for you depends on your ability to work your calendar. Monk had another oft used statement. This one went, “You’ll thank me later.” Develop your calendar skills in order to put the schedule back in your schedule, you’ll thank me later. *wink*

Your call to action

Be sure to include Schulte and Schulte, a construction-centric bookkeeping and financial advisory firm in your schedule. We’re extremely good at lightening the load for our clients. Don’t wait, call now 480-442-4032 or Toll Free: 866-629-7735.

Before You Give the Paper To-Do List a Pink Slip Consider This

Yes, you know high on our priority list at Schulte and Schulte is helping our construction contractor clients ditch the paper. Yet, here I am saying, “No! Get some paper and a pen. We’ve got work to do.”

Sometimes scaling your contracting firm is aided by something as simple as a pen and a piece of paper. The truth is, there are a number of reasons for putting pen to paper when it comes to the short list of action items you need to be reminded of each day. I’ll mention the four I find the most important.

It helps you remember

One of the reasons for hand writing a to-do list is you remember better that which you write. It seems the very physical act of moving ink (or carbon) across a piece of paper helps your brain with its multitude of memory tasks. One example is a grocery list. Write it down, and even if you forget to take the list to the store, you’ll have a better chance of remembering what was on it. Try that with the list you made on your “forgotten” phone and you won’t have the same outcome. This article from Dustin Wax at Lifehack explains more about the science behind why we remember what we write.

It allows you to “see” the progress

You can see progress with a to do list and that feels good. Seems many people (I’ll admit, I’m one of them) feel so good about checking things off the list they even jot in an unplanned task which they’ve just completed so they can check it off.

It gives you a sense of relief

There is that “whew” moment, a sense of relief when being able to cross certain items off the list. Perhaps the action item was one you’ve been needing to accomplish for quite some time or one which you dreaded doing. Either way, checking it off your list can aid you in that welcome sigh of relief. It is as if that little X or mark-through is the period at the end of a sentence. Or better yet the exclamation mark. Done!

It is a benevolent task master

This is probably the most important reason I find for having a well written to-do list.

You’re able to focus your energy.

You don’t enter your office, shop, or job-site wondering what should be done today. You have a list.

It enables you to remain strategic.

You aren’t (as) tempted to do things which are more time fillers than actual work moving towards specific important goals.

It allows you to be proactive rather than reactive.

Because you’ve allowed your calendar to inform your to-do list you know what next action step to take. (More on this a little further down.)

It is an important tool for returning to the tracks if you’ve been derailed.

Perhaps I should have said when you’re derailed. When you’re interrupted, you don’t need to stop to rethink which task you were working on, you simply look at the list.

It reminds you to have fun.

Even though you probably won’t put silly things on your list every day, you may find it a nice break to occasionally add something that is simply goofy to your to-do list.

  • Give someone in your office a copy of War and Peace, then ask them to proofread it.
  • Prank the boss or someone away on vacation (balloons, toilet paper, or aluminum foil comes to mind)
  • Walk sideways to the photo copier – every time you go there all day long
  • Skip rather than walk
  • Put a sign on your photocopier that says “New Copier – Voice activated – please speak your command” Watch the fun.
  • Carry your keyboard over to someone else in the office and ask, “do you want to trade?”

Now that you know why a paper to-do list is helpful, let’s move to how to formulate a truly workable to-do list.

What a cave man teaches about using a hand-written to-do list

I recently read an article in which several “up and coming” young entrepreneurs were asked to give their best “secrets” concerning the use of a to-do list. Some of the answers were useful, some not so much. Of the dozen respondents, there was only one who espoused the need to move from paper to a digital system. And it was that one which made me smile because of the mental image I had after reading her response.

I was listening to what she had to say until this sentence popped up, “Don’t limit yourself to the Stone Age when it comes to something as important as your productivity.”

Yeah, the Stone Age. So, of course I started thinking about this fellow grabbing out his chisel and tapping away on the wall of his cave to produce his to-do list for the day.

  • Find long-haired woman and drag her to cave
  • Throw spear into large mammal
  • Learn how to make fire
  • Berries
  • Dog

This was a pretty smart caveman-type-person. Let’s call him “Grug.”  Grug knows the value of a to-do list, and he is on the right track. But, he can improve his to-do list skills. Here is a quick critique of his entries.

Find long-haired woman and drag her to cave.

Grug, made the mistake many make with this item. Finding said woman and dragging her around is more likely a project. A project that may indeed have many steps, each of which can be separated out and added to Grug’s to-do list as needed on any given date.

If Grug had let his calendar inform him concerning on which date this project needs to be completed, he may have made a to-do list entry more like, “locate nearby village with long-haired women.” Future action steps on future to-do lists might include, “scope out perfect woman,” then “note when woman goes to water source,” and so on and so on. Grug’s to-do list should be the place he breaks down his long-term goals into actionable steps.

Throw spear into large mammal.

If this is a step in Grug’s short-term project of Feed the Fam, then he did a great job of adding to his list. This is likely an actionable step he can take today because he has completed the step of finding the beast already.

Plus, Grug remembered to start his entry with a verb. It helps Grug know immediately what needs to be done. He need not look at his list with perhaps the single word “mammal” and wonder, “What is this all about?” instead, he knows, “This is my next task and this is how I should do it.”

Learn how to make fire.

Good call, Grug. We’re with you on this one.

Berries and Dog

Oh no, Grug has forgotten his verbs. Chances are he might not have a clue why he wrote those entries. Pick berries? Dispose of rotting berries? Pet dog? Find dog? Feed dog?

One more thing – Grug should have used a tablet *giggle* to write his list. Cave walls don’t transport easily.

There are three main principles we learn from our dear friend Grug:

  1. Use your calendar to inform your to-do list, breaking down your projects or plans into actionable steps.
  2. Use a verb at the beginning of each item on your to-do list so you know right away what to do when you look at your to-do list.
  3. Keep your to-do list manageable and portable.

On that last note, a small notebook or a 3X5 card work well. If you want to have a running reminder of what you’ve already completed the notebook is a good choice. If you’re happy to have completed the list and will let the project speak for itself then tossable 3X5s might be your paper of choice.

What if Grug adds items to his to-do list that include dealing with his co-cavemen?

Grug should keep his to-do list for his own actions, but he can very well indicate on his list that he is delegating certain tasks to others. He should also include any pertinent data right on his list. For example, he should include contact information or at the very least where to find the information. And, if he plans to get in touch with Galg he should include what he is getting in touch with Galg about. He might say something like, “Call Galg about footwear idea.”

Getting back to the 21st century

If you have more to do than your memory can hold, figure out a better way to keep track of everything than just keeping it in your head. Building your modern construction contracting business depends on taking smart actions at smart times. Get in the habit of creating smart to-do lists and you’ll wonder what you ever did without them.

This is another in a series of articles all about organizing your construction contracting business. You can go here to find more.