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

Avoid Construction Business Overwhelm

Avoid overwhelm in your construction business. Delegate, Designate, Automate, Eliminate.

Avoid overwhelm in your construction business. Delegate, Designate, Automate, Eliminate.

I grew up hearing this phrase, “Let go and let God.” The jist of the phrase is to allow God to handle the things you can’t. It is a simple concept to understand, yet a devilishly difficult discipline to achieve. And, if we have a difficult time allowing God (you know – the guy who can do ANYTHING) to handle things for us, how much harder it is to allow people to take over the things we’re finding difficult to deal with.

Yet, if you’re serious about guiding your construction company to growth and sustainability, you’re going to have to “let go, and let other people.”

You choose

Strategy One – Micromanage. Micromanaging is an ultimately self-defeating strategy. It is a major time waster for you and an ultimate morale defeater for those in your employee.

Strategy Two – Personal Growth. Personal growth for both you and your employees will broaden your horizons exponentially. You become a more expert and powerful leader and your employees gain skills and knowledge which make them more valuable to you.

You’re probably worried that:

  1. The work won’t be done to your exacting standards
  2. It will take longer to teach someone else to do than just doing it yourself
  3. This is cruddy work no one wants to do
  4. It will cost too much
  5. Some people can’t be trusted

The answer is:

  1. It might not be done to your exacting standards. It may take some time to get others up to the standard you would prefer. Yet, if you’ve no time left to get it done, it isn’t getting done at all. Give someone else the opportunity.
  2. There is a possibility it will take time to teach someone to do it. Yet, once they’re taught, you no longer need worry about it. Or, it could be someone will step to the plate and get it done with little to no training. Other people have skills too, you know. 😉
  3. Just as one man’s trash is another’s treasure, one man’s cruddy job is another’s fun task.
  4. Sure enough, there may be costs associated with getting things done you no longer have time or skills for. Weigh the costs. If it takes you longer to do something with a less than satisfactory result, why hang onto it?
  5. It is true, some people can’t be trusted. Weed them out. Find others who can be trusted and entrust them with the tasks at hand.

If you frequently feel frazzled and are left wondering which direction to turn before taking the next step, you’re a good candidate for learning the 4 “Ates” of Successful Construction Company Owners. Even if you think you already delegate effectively, consider you may have room for growth in this area. It’s time to learn about the four “ates.”

The 4 “ates” of Successful Construction Company Owners

  1. Delegate
  2. Designate
  3. Automate
  4. Eliminate

Which leads to the over-all “ate” – Get it off your plate!

Delegate – to those already in your employ

Delegating will often create a short-term cost, which leads to the creation of long-term benefits. Getting really good at empowering others to deliver their best, builds your capacity to get the job done through the contributions of others.

Fast Company and The Art of Manliness both weigh in with good articles concerning the art of delegating well. Jayson DeMers, in his article found on the Inc. website gives you 7 Strategies for Delegating Better and Getting More Done.

Delegation is more than just a management concept. It is a skill (which can be learned) and will allow you to move beyond the land of overwhelm into the realm of getting-work-completed-in-a-timely-and-productive-manner.

Designate – to new hires or outsource service providers

As you go along the path of building your construction business you find there are tasks or skills needed for which you have neither time nor competence to address. Consider:

  • Appointment scheduling
  • Answering phones
  • Marketing
  • Accounting
  • Web design and maintenance
  • Content creation
  • Tools, parts, and supplies running
  • Sales
  • Janitorial duties
  • Sales training
  • Tax preparation
  • Human resources duties

Sometimes it is as easy as hiring someone to take care of some of the tasks. Janitorial and runner both come to mind (and might even be carried out by the same person.) At other times, it will be better to outsource tasks which include skills or knowledge you don’t have. Web design and maintenance, accounting, and human resources are all candidates for the outsource solution.

What are you least efficient and effective at completing?

Which tasks are you most likely to put off until the last minute, thereby never giving them the full attention they deserve?

What have you been limping along doing and now know it is time to bring on a pro in order to have the task done properly?

Answer those questions and you’re on your way to determining the type of person you should hire or the outsource solution provider you should engage.

Automate – through tech

How long has it been since you used a phone book, bothered with a set of encyclopedias, pounded away on a typewriter, or payed for your groceries with a check?

Your personal as well as your business life are both being disrupted by technology. Yet, the construction industry as a whole has been seen dragging its feet in the tech world.

Beware, the light is dawning on many. It is no longer a matter of stepping ahead of the competition through the use of tech; it is a matter of being left behind through the neglect of tech.

Let’s face it, there must be an investment of your time to investigate your options and an investment of your dollars to implement new technology across your construction company. Yet, making that investment pays off. It pays off in three bold ways:

  1. Increased reliability
  2. Improved performance
  3. New capabilities through new functions

As far as mobility? Your phone alone has taught you the benefit of a tech device which allows you to be more mobile.

Almost any tech you bring into your business is going to come with a built-in learning curve. Yet, once you and your employees get over the hurdle of learning the new tech both you and they will be better equipped to perform your individual job functions better.

Both GetApp and Capterra list a plethora of SaaS and apps to choose from for your construction company. Look them over, you’re likely to find several options that will be of use to you.

Eliminate – the tasks, duties, or systems that no longer work

Sometimes it is difficult to determine which tasks, duties, or systems are not working for you. Yet, you can look at a few symptoms which will, at the very least, give you a heads-up that something is wrong.

  • Your clients complain about poor quality or bad service
  • Your employees are constantly frustrated
  • Some work gets duplicated and some work is left undone
  • Your costs increase (for example, there is a constant need for rework)
  • Resources are wasted
  • Bottlenecks develop
  • You’re frustrated

As you grow your construction business you’ll find you have new goals, you use new technology, the business environment changes, and your established systems often become inefficient or outdated.

Consider these two examples of when a system isn’t working:

  • Your people use email instead of the CRM you provided for them.
  • You put documents in Dropbox rather than on the intranet.

Or think about these time disrupters:

  • You don’t have quick access to key tasks.
  • You’re constantly interrupted by people asking the same question over and over.
  • Meetings run too long and don’t have a specific agenda.
  • You’re disrupted by email notifications throughout the day.
  • You don’t have a “hard stop” to end your work day.

Make a decision to eliminate the tasks, duties, and systems which aren’t aiding you in growing your construction business. Take the time to think it through then begin getting rid of the outdated, old fashioned, or broken pieces of your work day.

Your call to action

Learn how a team dedicated to helping construction contractors avoid overwhelm and conquer their accounting needs can best serve you. We’ll help you get it off your plate. Give Schulte and Schulte a call today so you can take your spot on our waiting list.  480-442-4032 or 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.