• Yvonne Root

Sorting it Out part two

In the first part of this two-part series, we looked at sorting and clutter. This time, we’re tackling the process of sorting within three different sectors of your construction contracting business.

Spaces and items

The organizing rules apply to all the spaces of your construction company, not just the office. If it takes up space and contains items, it can and should be organized.

· Office

· Vehicles

· Shop

· Storage

· Jobsites

But here is the weird part, it is often best to organize by category, not by location. For example, the tools of your trade may be scattered throughout your vehicles, shop, storage area, and job sites. Getting rid of the clunkers (the clutter) and assessing the need for repair or replacement hinges on sorting, categorizing, and organizing according to requirement.

While you may not want or need to create a physical pile of all the items in a particular category, remember the act of piling is a useful tool employed by many when determining what goes where. When you can, pile it up – then you’ll know what you have and what you no longer need.

Another important aspect of sorting your spaces and items is getting everyone involved. Choosing a day or more to get things sorted with the entire staff participating has many added benefits. This article from the Refresh Leadership blog is a quick look at the how-to.

Finally, it is vital to deal with paper. No matter how hard you (and we) have tried to reduce paper use, it is still a part of doing business. And it must be included in your sorting efforts. Barbara Hemphill boiled it down to three necessary steps, File, Act, Toss, and calls it the FAT system.

Of course, once you’ve worked through the stacks of paper using the FAT system, you have only two piles left needing your attention. If necessary, create temporary storage for sorted documents. Remember to keep everything contained and labeled.

Information and knowledge

The issue is identifying how to manage information, so the knowledge is shared, acted on, and accrued.

So how do you sort it?

Richard Saul Wurman took an interest in organizing information. He broke it down into five different options.

· Alphabetically – you know, in alphabetical order

· Chronologically – by time, like the date of creation or when the initial contact took place

· Location – as in geographical or in-house layout, like which job or which room

· Magnitude – a type of ranking, for example from the best general contractors to the ones you prefer not to work with, or from the least used hand tools to the most used

· Category – as in type or sort, like accounts receivable and accounts payable, or construction contracts or employee handbooks

The thing is you don’t want a boatload of information floating around in the “somewhere” of paper or digital documents. (Boatload is a verified accounting term, by the way. 😉) Instead, you want and need a systematic structure that allows you to create, save, and find documents and information.

The good news is you don’t have to sort all this information from the ground up. As cliché as it sounds, there is an app for that. Well, that is to say, there are apps, software, and other sources where the sorting has already been included, and all you need do is plug in and plunge on. For example, when using QuickBooks or Knowify, the sorting is part of the function.

Also, it is crucial to get and keep your computer’s desktop organized.

When you’re ready to tackle the sorting needed on your computers, you have three choices:

1. Make sure your in-house IT person is doing the job

2. Do it yourself (This article from Techlicious titled How to Clean Out & Organize Your Computer is detailed and has the added benefit of giving information for both Mac and Windows.)

3. Hire an outside IT service provider (This is the option we at The Profit Constructors have chosen.)

Time and schedule

Sorting your time and schedule is often labeled efficiency. And efficiency is tied to competence and productivity. It can be much harder to achieve than tidy workspaces.

You have time and scheduling tools. They range from calendars and watches to checklists and to-do lists, from time management apps to productivity software. Add to that the plethora of “time management tips” you can find scattered across the internet.

Therefore, when it comes to your time management strategy, keep in mind the primary tenant of sorting – always sort based on your need, and prioritize what’s important.

If you notice you are overlooking priorities, missing deadlines, or running around like the proverbial headless chicken, it is time to improve your scheduling system and take control of your time.

It may mean sorting out the apps or other tools that just don’t work for you. It will undoubtedly mean creating a functional calendar, formulating actionable steps, and discovering the time management tips that fit your personality and lifestyle.

Importantly, keep in mind when structuring your time (just like when bidding projects) the time-gobbling contingencies that are just waiting to pour forth. Interruptions, changes in plans, delayed deliveries, no-shows, and intrusions are all possibilities. The wise sorting of your time means planning for lead time or lag time with contingencies in mind.

The last word

If you get stuck in your sorting efforts, remember these essential tenets of sorting and organizing:

· Group like with like

· Consider accessibility

· Recognize the frequency of use

The Profit Constructors provide Construction Accounting and Operational Accountability for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

Our services allow you to organize your operations so you can

· Remain informed

· Avoid hassles

· Reduce risks

And 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.

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

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