3 easy ways to reduce construction headaches
Updated: Nov 9, 2020
Running a construction business can be rewarding but it can also come with a ton of headaches from the daily chaos of construction. In this post we’ll provide 3 excellent ways to control the chaos and reduce headaches.
#1 Get Organized with a List
The world of construction is a fast paced flurry of action with deadlines, materials to order, people to call, things to get approved, etc. There is no better way to gain a sense of order and control than making a list of all the things that you need to do.
Traditionally, a notebook or pocket notebook is used for writing down things. This can be a great simple way to make a list. The downside of a notebook is that the page turns and many people forget to go back and look at it leaving tasks undone causing more issues. A new way to make a list is to use the smart phone or tablet. There are many free apps for this. My favorite is www.workflowy.com. This is a super simple app that allows you to make a list and mark as complete when done. I have a list for each project and under that I keep a running list of open items that need to be addressed. You can also use a web browser to update the list so it works great from a computer as well.
Put simply, you have a ton of things to get done and keeping an updated list is a key way to manage that. Also, it feels great when you check items off the list.
#2 Create a Schedule
Schedules are nothing new to construction. Sometimes we have control of the schedule but more times than not, we are at the mercy of someone else’s schedule.
The key is to know what the schedule is so if you are a subcontractor, ask the general for an updated schedule. It’s never fun to get that last minute demand to perform from a GC that is not planning ahead and giving you notice. Ask for a schedule to force them to keep it updated.
If you are the GC and you make the schedule then you have no better way to plan and organize the project than with a good detailed, up-to-date schedule. Make sure you share it with your subs frequently.
Crew scheduling is another great way to cut the Chaos. Planning out a week or two in advance for where your workers will be going and what they will be doing allows you to make changes to the schedule well in advance. If needed you can move things around to fit your capacity and commitments made. For example, if you look at your schedule and see that you can’t accommodate a project 3 days away, you have time to reschedule things without it being a “no-show” situation that leaves the client upset.
Crew scheduling can be done many ways. Our favorite way is with an online tool so that it can be done from the office or on-the-go. Buildcenter.com allows you to schedule your workers and share that information with them so they know where to go and what to do. You don’t have to make late night phone calls or texts to inform them anymore. They use the phone app to see what there schedule shows and when to be there. It give them an address and a map.
The simple task of making a schedule that is shared will cut hours of time from your day and give you back some control.
#3 Make time to be Proactive
We hear the term proactive all the time. We know that being proactive is better than being reactive but why is it so hard to do?
The reality is that most people start their day and simply react to what is thrown their way and then they repeat the following day. Yes, you can survive by doing it this way. And yes, I would dare to say that 90% of the superintendents and project managers in construction today do this regularly. Why do you think construction is so exhausting? We get bombarded with stuff all day long and we have to react and make things happen and that is stressfull…..but wouldn’t it be nice if there was 20 or 30% less stuff that we are reacting to. Wouldn’t it be nice if things ran smoother without so much effort?
The secret is no secret at all. It’s all about being proactive. So how do we do this? It starts with carving out a block of time every single day where you focus on the future. I recommend this at the end of the day since the early hours are typically crazy with the here and now. Start by putting a 30 minute recurring meeting on your phone’s calendar M-F. This meeting could be called “Planning”. Maybe this is at 10am after the morning has started or 4pm after the calls die down or some other time of day that you normally could focus for 20-30 minutes without interruption.
This time that you have allocated is then used to do items #1 and #2 above. Update your lists, check off the items you completed. Add new ones and review the list to see if anything can be done to complete them. This is a great time to shoot off emails and texts to people that you need answers from. Review your schedules and update them.
Once you get in the habit of spending this time every day, you will see how your projects will run smoother and you will gain some control back on the chaos of construction.
Construction will always come with some headaches but by using lists and schedules and making time to be proactive, you will get more control over your projects leaving you with more time and less stress.
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