Organizing Time in the Construction World
Updated: Sep 4
Organizing Time is About Organizing Time
When you run from one business fire to another all day, there’s a good chance you didn’t take TIME to organize your time. From calendars to to-do lists and everything in between, there are plenty of time-organizing tools.
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 easier to use the tactics described in the many-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 and 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 that none of these questions are simple or 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 callbacks?
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 contributing 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.
Mark 80-20 thinking time on your calendar. Keep it sacred.
Make sure others you trust know you’re on this journey.
Get someone to hold you accountable to stick with it.
Watch for small victories and note them.
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 successful business people use in all industries. Managing your time with purpose is a skill set that 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.
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