Adobe stock/Tuiphotoengineer

No one seems to have enough time in their day, and builders, with the many roles they play, are often the most harried. If you feel this way, here are some tips from time management experts to help you make the best use of your time.

1. Plan up front in as much detail as you can. “When [subcontractors] bid a job, sometimes they’re not realistic on how long it’s going to take them,” says David O’Brien, CPA, Mosley, Pfundt, Glick & O’Brien, a Toldeo-based consultant for building pros.

2. Educate your subcontractors. Let them know about your plan, says O'Brien. “We’re trying to do this to reduce the cycle time,” he says. “When you exceed the cycle time, it costs you for the subs’ time and superintendent’s time.” So it’s important to have a plan in place before work starts and get everybody on board with it. Let the subs know you’re in control of the schedule, they’re not.”

3. Streamline communication with a weekly email. Regular communication can clear up confusion and cut down on the number of meetings and on wasted time. To keep the project on track, ask your superintendent to send an email at the end of each week to the homeowner and the owner of the home building company, says Craig Bodette, CPA, manager of construction services at Mosley, Pfundt, Glick & O’Brien. It should include information on what the team accomplished that week, what they hoped to accomplish and what they expect to accomplish the next week. The email should also include a list of any items the team needs from the home building company, with a deadline.

That email is particularly helpful for the homeowner. “In the construction field, you may go to your house, and it looks like nothing was done,” says O’Brien. “You don’t know what went on behind the scenes.”

Constant communication from the superintendent to the homeowner and owner of the homebuilding company can be a real time-saver. For one thing, it cuts down on the number of visits from the homeowner to the jobsite, which can bog things down, says Bodette.

4. Delegate. Delegating is an excellent way to save time, but make sure you choose appropriate tasks to delegate. “You need to delegate lower tasks,” O’Brien says. “Understand the best use of your time.”

5. Don’t neglect less immediate tasks. Some builders have priorities that are more field-driven because they spend a lot of time at the site, says Bodette. “The financial end often gets left alone until the end of the year when they need to do tax returns.” Then they find they’re behind on paperwork. Bodette suggests using a part-time bookkeeper to help with the transactional side of the business.

6. Create a focus for your company and your teams. This is one of the most critical parts of managing other people’s time, says Chris Bailey, a productivity consultant whose most recent book is Hyperfocus. “It’s remarkable how few teams are given a focus for what they need to accomplish in a given quarter or a given year,” he says.

7. Set your priorities. Once you have created a focus for a quarter or a year for your company, use the rule of three to set your priorities every day. Bailey offers this simple but helpful time-saving tip to keep you focused: At the beginning of each day, list the three most important tasks you want to accomplish that day. Check throughout the day to make sure you’re on track. That mindset makes it less likely you will spend the day handling problems and answering emails.

“When a brushfire comes up, weigh that new emergency against the priorities you set at the start of the day,” Bailey says.

8. Mind your attention. “We tend to focus on time management because we have to manage our schedules around the schedules of other people,” Bailey says. But for much of the day you have control over your focus. “When you’re constantly surrounded by technological distraction – emails that pull us to working on what’s immediate instead of the larger project – that can prevent ideas from arising that can change the direction of the company.”