On with the lists – but get your work week organised first!

Terry Sage of Trades Coaching New Zealand

By now you are covered with lists, on the desk, across the dashboard in the ute and even in the tool box!

Yep — so last decade I know. Naturally, all your lists are either on your phone, tablet or laptop. Which is exactly where they need to be as that saves us Step No 1 of transferring all those bits of paper to a spreadsheet of some kind.

Sorry, my fellow technophobes, get typing and enter those bits of paper. Your computer screen now has a list of what you have done, when you’ ve done it, how long it took, did you like it and how much money it made from doing it.

What you have is some amazing information at your finger tips, and you can do analysis that will produce earth-shattering results. So why am I going to tell you “not now”? Let ’s do the easy stuff first — of course if you want to do the analysis you go girl. 

Why the easy stuff? Because that is what business should be — remember that old but very relevant saying: “Keep it simple stupid”. All we are going to do with your bits of paper at this stage is organise your week. If you have just thrown them up in the air followed by a few choice words like “why have I wasted all that time?” you haven’t, honest.

For the technophobes out there, you can stop laughing at all the clever ones who threw their new iPads in the air (they don’t bounce so well). You may well be an organised person and that’s great. However, and please don’ t take offence at this, I haven’t come across many organised tradesmen.

Yes, they can build a palace, yes they can order materials at the exact right time, yes the subbies are there on the day they should be (an hour late but that ’s early for most subbies), and the job always get finished on time.

But we are talking the business side, not the fun side. What I am talking about in an organised week is as simple as looking at your list. Don’ t worry about all the fun building stuff, just concentrate on the mundane tasks, the paperwork tasks — just anything that is not swinging that $200 hammer.

This exercise is called blocking out your week, or allocating a portion of your week to one task. For example, do all your invoicing for two hours between 3 and 5 on a Thursday afternoon. Do all your quotes on a Wednesday morning. Then there’s the wages, the bills to pay and the list goes on.

Before you inquire which planet I have just landed from, I know I am suggesting you actually do these jobs during a normal working day and not at 10 in the evening or Sunday lunch times. Why? Well, a very wise but alcoholic boss of mine said 32 years ago: “If you can’ t do it between 8 and 5 then you’re not doing it right”. I would like to say I took his advice — 32 years later I still do emails in the evening — but in an ideal world a 40-hour week is the target we should aim for.

The benefit of blocking out time for a task means it gets done, and done a lot quicker, as you’re focused, and you will have a balanced life between work and play. Don’t let work or clients dictate your time management. If you can control your time management you will be far more efficient and profitable. I had a guy recently who would drop everything and go to quote a job as soon as the inquiry came in.

He would leave the apprentice to carry on while he shot out and looked at the new job. When he added up in one week how many hours he actually swung that hammer it was only 22. Six hours were spent looking at new jobs, another 10 spent travelling to all the quotes, and the rest was wasted on telling the apprentice what he had just seen.

He now does all his quotes in one morning, and his hammer time has gone up to 34 hours. Add up those dollars, people.