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January 24, 2024
There are several well-used adages about time—time is money, time keeps slipping away, and there is too much to do and not enough time, to name a few. But time-management expert Randy Anderson told a packed session at World of Concrete this week “you’ve got all the hours you’re getting” and provided a number of strategies to be more productive.
Anderson, owner of E3 Professional Trainers, said many people waste a lot of time. For instance, he cited research revealing that the average office worker spends two hours a day online on nonwork tasks.
Workers are losing “drops,” not big chunks of time, but wasting even a few seconds or minutes adds up to many hours over a year.
During his session titled “25-Hour Day: Time Management and Time Budgeting Strategies,” Anderson said our biggest productivity challenges are:
Unforeseen situations and tasks.
Waiting on others.
Doing the easy or fun stuff first. (“This is not always the profitable stuff.”)
Being a people pleaser.
Anderson provided these tips for adding lost time back into your day:
Eliminate time “bandits.” The speaker said time bandits are tasks and interactions that suck up time, like the colleague who spends 15 minutes talking to you about the weekend’s football game.
Also, being disorganized is a time bandit, and every desk-bound worker needs to maintain an organized desk. “You coming in on a Saturday to get rid of that stack doesn’t work as well as spending some time every day putting papers in their right place.”
Use a personal productivity/organizational tool. Anderson suggested putting every task, contact, meeting and appointment into your cellphone because you always have it with you. “Having that one consolidated place, you can see if you’ve got double bookings; you have the information you need and more.”
But he added: “You are going to have to learn to make yourself do that.”
Be proactive instead of reactive. “Keeping up is easier than catching up. Spending a few minutes a day is easier than having to come in on a Saturday or Sunday.”
Schedule tasks you need to do tomorrow. Spend the last 10 minutes of each day planning your next day. “I can foresee a potential problem if I am looking the evening before,” he said. “I can get a jump start on the next day.” Plus, he said the information is fresher in your mind at the end of the day than the next morning.
Anderson also recommended spending five to 10 minutes at the end of each Friday looking ahead at the next week.
Systemize recurring tasks. These can include general reoccurring emails and order forms.
Avoid multitasking. He said an MIT study found that multitasking is unproductive. “In America today, multitasking is considered a badge of honor. But either you are doing something mindlessly or you are splitting the task.
“In my profession, I haven’t heard of speakers getting killed at work. In construction, people are getting killed. Safety is paramount. Encourage your people to focus on one thing at a time.”
Delegate tasks. You don't need to do everything.
Invest your time in the most important (or profitable) task.
Reduce or eliminate interruptions. An interruption can be an opportunity, such as getting to bid on a project—but not talking about a football game.
“We interrupt each other all the time. A closed door used to mean that you don’t want interruptions, but now people just knock and walk in.”
Say no to things you don’t have to do. Anderson said when he says no, he states: “I’d rather turn you down than let you down.”
He suggested this language when turning down an offer: “I really think that organization (or event) is important, but based on the commitments I’ve already made, I don’t want you to be frustrated by my commitments.”
“If you don’t learn to consciously say no to some things, then you are going to learn to say no to other things—your health, your kids, your marriage.”
Finally, Anderson discussed creating a time budget, which WOC360 will discuss in an upcoming newsletter.
Editorial Director, ConstructioNext, WOC360, IRE360, Informa Markets
Jean Dimeo is an award-winning editor, writer and publication manager who has worked in construction publishing for 30 years. Dimeo was managing editor of Construction Dive, our sister publication about commercial construction, and the editor in chief of Builder, EcoHome and Building Products, all about residential building and remodeling. She also worked as an editor for a Spanish-language construction publication and as a building products expert for consumer magazines including Better Homes & Gardens SIPs.
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