balance your workload
Work with Urgency, Without Losing Quality
As a small business owner or independent contractor, learning to manage your time effectively without compromising the quality of your services can be a difficult skill to master. However, it’s a function that must be prioritized to maintain efficiency in your business.
As you know, inaccurately estimating the amount of time and resources a task requires, can throw off the rest of the day’s priorities. This can result in poor work and cost the business money, clients and invaluable time.
Streamline your workflow with these three time management tips designed especially for contractors.
Delegate, Don’t Dictate to Your Staff
Splitting up tasks amongst your employees is one of the best (and easiest) ways to make sure things get done well and on time. However, there’s a difference between delegating and dictating.
Dictating is often perceived as bossing others around and ordering tasks, rather than asking or assigning. While you might be the boss, you don’t want to be that kind of boss. Dictating can build resentment among employees. This can lead to high turnover rates that cost you money and time in the long run.
Instead, delegate reasonably and responsibly by assigning regular responsibilities to your employees. Not only does this help with time management, but it will also make employees feel valued and increase their accountability. Even as a manager or business owner, there are tasks that can be passed off to others.
Related Resource: 10 ways to increase your efficiency at work
Manage Your Time Realistically
It’s normal to strive for optimal productivity, but it’s also important to manage your time and expectations. While contractors spend much of their day doing onsite-servicing, there are still plenty of time-consuming administrative tasks to be taken care of back in the office.
For both major and minor tasks, help your staff estimate the appropriate amount of time they should set aside. Once they begin, keep an eye on the clock to make sure your staff is on task and making the most of the time allotment. However, it’s important to stress the importance of working efficiently and effectively.
What may seem like an innocent mistake in administrative work, can cost your business money. Business owners and managers should not push time constraints on their staff to the point that they’re rushing to complete their work and in turn, making easily avoidable mistakes.
To help prioritize tasks many businesses set aside blocks of time at the beginning and end of each day for administrative tasks such as invoicing, ordering/tracking inventory, updating timesheets, payroll, and more.
To better estimate how long a project may take you, keep a running spreadsheet (or utilize time tracking software) that documents how long previous projects have taken you and your employees. This will not only give you a better idea of what is needed, but may also help you identify which projects are the most time-consuming.
Organize Your Responsibilities with Project Management Software
While it may seem cliché, keeping a to-do list is one of the best ways to remember all the tasks you have to do and prioritize your day to work more efficiently. Your list or production schedule should include your week’s tasks, whether they’re big or small, meetings and appointments, and any additional thoughts and conversations you’ve had throughout the week that may spark a new idea for a task.
An easy way to manage projects and administrative work is to invest in a project management information system (PMIS). These software solutions not only help organize your tasks, but also help estimate costs, organize data and aid in risk management. Some construction / contractor-specific PMIS examples include Smartsheet, BIM 360, CoConstruct and more.
A PMIS can also help track how long projects typically take and the percent complete. By keeping track, contractors can better predict how long certain tasks may take them, and identify patterns in their own workflow.
Research your options to find the best project management system for your business.
If you or your staff of contractors is new to a PMIS, consider investing in training or courses to help smoothly transition your operations to the system. Through the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America, contractors can enroll in the Project Manager Development Program to help build their skills. This class, among others, covers project planning, cost control, time management, recordkeeping and more.
Invest time exploring associations like AGC and others to connect with resources that help owners and managers run an efficient and profitable business. By implementing best practices, training programs and tech, contractors can keep track of their employees’ daily tasks and time, and prevent unnecessary loss in productivity or quality of work.