The unfortunate truth is that time only runs one way – forward. Once it’s past you can’t get it back again. And, as the saying goes, there are only so many hours in a day; use them wisely.
As a contractor you already have challenges with time: unforeseen delays, multiple projects in the works, and everyday time-wasters. With the right attitude and time management skills you can decrease the impact to your contracting business and your customers.
Personal Time Management
Managing your own daily routine is the first step in making the most of your time.
Set Simple Goals
With something to aim for you can get off the blocks a little more quickly rather than wander around aimlessly wondering what to do next. Keep a list of your goals in your calendar or organizer to refer to as you go about your business.
If you don’t write them down, you may never accomplish them.
Keep Things Moving
It’s possible you shoot out of bed before the crack of dawn but do you sustain that momentum? Or do you allow things to slow you down? For the next few days take a look at what you do from the time you get up through getting work started at the jobsite or office.
You may have habits you aren’t aware of that keeps you and your crew from getting the ball rolling. Prepare a schedule the night before of the things you need to accomplish the next day. Once your feet hit the floor your goal is to knock each thing off the list as soon as possible. Don’t allow a long conversation to get started about non-work related stuff. Anything that needs further attention, determine if it must be taken care of right away or if it can wait until you can schedule some time for it.
Make a Schedule Rather Than Multitask
Speaking of scheduling, split your day into blocks of time for each activity. Multitasking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It is actually “multi-interrupting” that makes you waste time resetting your brain in between the short spurts of activity. By scheduling specific tasks their own blocks of time you can concentrate on each one until it is done or at a good stopping point.
Do Not Tolerate Interruptions
Some interruptions are unavoidable, but communicate to your employees exactly what you need to hear about immediately and what can wait. Delegate work and authority and trust your staff to carry it out appropriately. Being a micromanager means living in a world of interruptions that keeps you from getting your real work done.
Interruptions include time spent looking for stuff. Organize the clutter and keep your desk clear. You’ll be surprised how much more relaxed you feel when you don’t have to stare at stacks of paper.
Business Time Management
Now that you have yourself straightened out you can concentrate on creating a time efficient business.
A system is a way of doing something that must be done efficiently and repeatedly without error. Business systems keep projects on track by providing a routine that includes all the steps necessary to complete a task. Systems keep things from falling through the cracks and create a sense of continuity from which you can derive future schedules.
A system should follow the critical pathway of a project so each successive phase will be built on a perfectly completed preceding one.
Control risk appropriately and some of those unforeseen delays can be dealt with more quickly. Create a safe jobsite to keep accidents to a minimum. Make back-up plans for when the originally scheduled activity can’t take place due to weather or late delivery.
Train everyone in the processes and systems your company uses which will actually retain flexibility rather than squelch it. The right systems and controls allow for individual judgment in getting things back on schedule without needing your personal attention.
Time Impact Analysis
When things go awry, it would be great to be able to calculate the impact on the project’s timeline. Time Impact Analysis (TIA) is a method of doing just that.
Using your experience from past projects you can estimate the probably delay and project impact of a variety of commonly experienced problems. Specifically, TIA uses “fragnets,” a networking technique that identifies and quantitates time impact from a specific delay. TIA looks at these aspects of the delay:
- Method of incorporation into schedule
- Concurrent delays
- How it occurred
- Impact on project deadline
Once these are identified a more knowledgeable adjustment can be made.
Time management is an integral part of contracting work; schedules rule. With these practices in place and good habits set you will find projects running more smoothly which translates into happier customers and employees. Some delays and disruptions are unavoidable but by planning ahead for these possibilities and getting rid of time wasting activities or habits you can become a true time lord.