Many construction Project Managers appear not to have enough time in their day. They always seem stressed, harassed, and work excessively long hours. They seem to be always rushing around the phone glued to their ear or attending meetings. Every day there seem to be new crises to deal with on their project. Is this you?
But, there are a few Project Managers that appear relaxed, ordered and calm. There are problems to deal with – but they don’t seem to occur as frequently. Are they just lucky and have an easy project? Are they doing their jobs diligently? Well sometimes they do have an easy project, but invariably you’ll find that they are more organized and their projects are run more efficiently, resulting in fewer mistakes and crises.
How to improve time management in construction?
1. Plan the project
I don’t mean to prepare a construction schedule, which is also important. Rather planning the project means selecting the best construction methods, ensuring the required resources are on the project when they’re needed, and the timely ordering of construction materials and equipment. Planning is critical at the start of the project before work begins, but, planning also needs to be done daily. Take 10 minutes each day to step back and consider what must happen today, tomorrow and next week, and then ensure everything is in place so it will happen.
2. Effective delegation
It’s essential that managers learn to delegate. They can’t do everything themselves because they’ll simply run out of time and some items will be left undone. Employees want to learn new skills, they need to feel trusted, they should take on new responsibilities, so effective delegation is important to the development of employees. But, often tasks aren’t delegated properly and aren’t followed up correctly.
It shouldn’t be necessary to micromanage employees, but they should be checked on to ensure they have completed the task and they should be provided the skills to carry out the task. Delegation may sometimes take a little more time and effort at first, but once employees grasp what needs to be done the time spent will be well rewarded.
3. You don’t have to respond to emails immediately
Some project managers are glued to their smartphones or computers. They immediately get distracted by a new email, even when they are in meetings, busy with other tasks or talking to someone. Emails can wait and should be responded to when you have the time to send a considered reply that has been thought through. Interrupting a task midway to read an email is disruptive and could result in the task not being completed.
4. Don’t be distracted
Project Managers have to be able to multi-task – dealing with several issues at once. However, Project Managers shouldn’t be distracted from important duties and responsibilities by minor interruptions and tasks.
5. An ordered filing system is essential
Much time is wasted scanning back through emails or scratching through papers that haven’t been filed correctly. Documents, letters, and emails should be filed where they can easily be found. It’s important that documents are secure and backed-up. A lost or stolen computer could result in the loss of valuable documents that could cost many hours of work to recover or recreate.
6. Use time-saving systems
There is a multitude of new apps and software systems. Carefully consider the benefits of these systems and whether they will link to the systems currently used. Unfortunately not all systems and apps will be suitable for your project and company, but other systems may bring time-saving benefits to you.
7. Take notes
Project managers have to multi-task and they are often dealing with a number of issues at once. During meetings, while walking the project, and when talking on the phone, inevitably there will be queries raised or items that crop up that need attention. Making notes of these items will mean that they won’t be forgotten, that they can be prioritized and dealt with in the order of priority. Crossing off the items as they are completed always provides a sense of achievement.
8. Set time aside to deal with important issues
Some tasks have to be done in the day. Important correspondence has to be answered, variation claims have to be submitted, materials have to be ordered. Project Managers may have to set aside some time free of interruptions (except emergencies) to complete these tasks.
9. Cut the chit-chat
You may have to be rude sometimes. Project managers can often be interrupted by visitors, salespeople, and even staff. Sometimes these people can take valuable time with idle chit-chat, or want to discuss items that you’re not interested in. Yes, it is good to be sociable, and we all want to be friendly and pleasant, but sometimes we have urgent matters to get done and work to finish.
Sometimes you have to be rude (in a nice way of course) and politely tell the person you’re busy and would like to continue the conversation when you have time. That ten minutes of idle conversation in the day may just result in you getting home ten minutes later tonight.
10. Learn to say no
Sometimes Project Managers take on additional tasks or accept work which they should have said no to. Agreeing to do something, and then doing it badly, or perhaps not doing it at all, often causes more problems than a simple no would have caused.
11. Ask for help
Some project managers end up drowning on their projects, drowning in problems and drowning in paperwork. Don’t be too proud to ask for some help. The longer you leave the problem the worse it will get. Insufficient time to attend to day-to-day project issues will mean that tasks get left undone, which will invariably lead to more problems and crises later, which will demand even more time to resolve.
12. Keep meetings brief
Project Managers often have to attend numerous meetings. Meetings can be useful, but, many are poorly run and waste excessive time. Ensure your meetings follow a set agenda. Control idle chatter and discussions that wander off the topic. Much time is wasted when some attendees arrive late.
Tardy attendance and poor timekeeping should not be tolerated. Insist that those attending the meeting are capable of making decisions. Be prepared for the meeting with answers and points that need to be discussed, and raise these under the relevant agenda items. Frequently items don’t get closed out and are carried over to the next meeting – wasting more time. Don’t argue minor irrelevant points or items where you are clearly wrong – it only wastes time and irritates people.
Preventing fires is often easier and takes less time than putting out a raging inferno. Proper planning, a good team, and a well-organized project can often prevent problems from occurring. Unfortunately, many Project Managers spend much of their time solving problems that should have been avoided.