Organizing Time in the Construction World

Organizing time is about organizing time well.

Organizing Time is about organizing time

When you find yourself running from one business fire to another all day long, there’s a good chance you didn’t take TIME to organize your time. From calendars to to-do lists and everything between, there are plenty of time organizing tools.

  • Calendars
  • Clocks
  • Watches
  • Apps
  • SaaS
  • Timers
  • Checklists
  • To-do lists

In this article by John Rampton on Forbes, you’ll find twenty time management tips. 

All of the tips are valid and can make organizing your time easier. Of course, there are tons of other lists concerning time management out there as you’ll easily see if you google something like “time management tips.”

Some are more enlightening than others.

None are a bit of good if all you do is read them and move on. You must act if you hope to manage your time better.

The rule for organizing time

One of the tips Rampton suggests is to follow the 80-20 rule. It is this suggestion that supersedes other time organizing strategies. Get this one right, and you’ll find it is easier to use the tactics described in the multitude of time organizing lists.

You probably know this rule as the Pareto Principle. And, at its base point, it is a principle, not a rule. There could be danger in assuming only 20% is enough to remedy all situations.

For example, knowing that 80% of a bridge is built in the first 20% of the allotted time doesn’t negate the fact that the entire bridge must be built to be useful.

In the final analysis, the idea is to use this principle to determine what activities generate the most results, then give those activities your appropriate attention.

Finding your 20

Take the time to think about the work you do on a day-to-day basis and ask yourself questions like this:

  • Who are the 20% of staff who manage to interrupt my day 80% of the time?
  • Which 20% of the general contractors I work with provide 80% of my revenue?
  • Which 20% of my routine tasks deliver 80% of my effectiveness?
  • Who are the 20% of employees who help me with 80% of the work I delegate?
  • Which 20% of tasks completed will solve 80% of the problems I have to face today?
  • What are the 20% of my construction company’s jobs that gave me 80% of my satisfaction last year?

You’ve probably noticed none of these questions are simple, nor are they easily answered. It isn’t as if you can write a “find my 20” on your to-do list one day and check it off at some point in the day.

Finding your 20 is a habit you build over time, and it takes practice to see the benefits.

Tip: Block out time on your calendar (yeah, that time organizing tool) to spend time on finding your 20. Some find it useful to choose a short time frame daily. Others prefer a longer time frame weekly.

Ask more questions

It pays to remember that 80-20 is a guide, not a rule, a principle, not a law. Plus, 80-20 may change proportions somewhat. It can be 90-10 or even 70-30, yet the concept remains the same.

Here are more questions for you to consider:

  • Which 20% of our systems are responsible for 80% of the errors we come up against?
  • What 20% of the mistakes we make on job sites are responsible for 80% of our call-backs?
  • Which 20% of our vehicle loading procedures are causing 80% of misloading problems?

Or, you can turn this around and ask this type of question:

Which 80% of tasks do I complete day-to-day that only give me 20% of my good results?

What are 80% of our employee benefits that only help 20% of our employees?

What are 80% of our overhead costs which contribute to 20% of our results?

As a construction contractor, you have a lot of information and a lot of tasks you need to stay on top of constantly. You can see that taking the time to master the habit of using the 80-20 principle will pay off.

If you’ve gotten this far, I guess that you know you need help in your time management strategy. There is no better time than right now to begin. Use these five tactics to become better at time management.

  1. Mark 80-20 thinking time on your calendar. Keep it sacred.
  2. Make sure others you trust know you’re on this journey.
  3. Get someone to hold you accountable to stick with it.
  4. Watch for small victories and note them.
  5. Teach someone else to use these principles.

If that last step seems odd, remember there is no better way to learn about a subject than to teach it to someone else.

Two last thoughts

Managing time well is a tool used by successful business people in all industries. And, managing your time with purpose is a skill set which you can master through practice.

 

This is the second article in a four-part series dealing with organizing your construction business.  To read the first part, The Hidden Strategy for Construction Subcontractors, link over. Upcoming in the series are Technically it is About Organizing the Tech and Organize Your Construction Office Space.

 

We desire to familiarize you with business concepts, which will make it easier for you to be a better commercial construction subcontractor through our blog posts. Some are new ways of looking at things, and others are refreshers. 

Schulte and Schulte Provides 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

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