One sad fact we’ve come to understand is that the average tradie has precious little time for family and recreation. It can be difficult to cater to your own needs given all the planning, staff meetings, and emergency calls that demand your attention.
Because it’s important to know the difference between a business that challenges you and a business that crushes you we’ve put together a list of all the telltale signs that you need better time management.
These are broad ideas that we’ve made simple through the use of clear examples, and after reading this guide, you’ll know for sure whether your schedule needs some serious work.
Sign #1 – you’re always in a rush
“I’ll get right on that after I finish these seven other things.”
That fact that running a tradie business would keep you busy is common sense. However, when you have to strain yourself to keep up with all the tasks on your plate, it may be a sign that you need to improve the way you handle your time.
You may be rushing from one assignment to the next, rushing to file paperwork before a government office closes, or (worst of all) rushing home to catch dinner with your family. Whatever the circumstance, forcing your way to a deadline is a sign that something is wrong.
Contrary to popular belief, a productive schedule isn’t one that’s loaded to the brim with tasks. The best schedules give you time to breathe, and recollect yourself in between appointments. This is because our brains need time to ‘reboot’ and clear some room for another round of higher-order thinking.
Remember: at the end of the day, a schedule is little more than a guide. It does nothing on its own, and it needs to inform a sharp and functional mind for it to be of any use. Give yourself a break or two throughout the work day, and be the man your schedule deserves.
Sign #2 – you lose track of your goals
“I have everything listed down –well, everything except the point.”
If you find yourself losing track of your goals (be they in the short, medium, or long term) and how your tasks align with them, then you’re probably due for a bout of reflection. After all, your goals shape your priorities, and your priorities determine how you should approach your schedule.
It’s perfectly understandable to juggle a lot of tasks (such is the nature of a tradie business, after all), but losing sight of the point behind your daily activities can hurt your motivation, and signify a failure to give priority to more urgent tasks.
In light of this, you shouldn’t find yourself struggling to recall the reason behind your daily workload; instead, you need a routine that leaves you with a clear idea of your day’s objectives.
A quick fix to this would be to begin your plans with the end in mind: order your tasks by urgency and time-sensitivity, then rebuild your schedule around it. Anyone who sees your schedule should have a clear idea of which tasks are most critical to your organisation, and what goals they help you accomplish throughout the day.
Sign #3 – you lack energy
“How much coffee does it take to kill a man? I’ll take that much, minus one.”
Poor time management can be a symptom of other, worse problems; chief among these is a lack of energy throughout the day. If you find yourself taking more frequent breaks or feeling more exhausted than you should given your schedule, then it’s time to improve your time management.
Similar to our point on rushing, a poorly constructed routine can leave you accomplishing tasks on time, but at the cost of your stamina. When your schedule fails to rank tasks in order of priority, it can leave you demotivated and struggling to find enough willpower to slog through the day. Likewise, running a schedule that doesn’t factor in your own physical capacity can be a recipe for fatigue.
There are two ways to fix a lack of energy and improve your time management along the way. The first involves fixing your schedule: reorganising your daily workload to make sure priority tasks are handled while your mind is fresh and ready. The second involves making some personal changes: training your cardio, eating healthier, and making other lifestyle improvements that better equip you for a busy schedule.
Sign #4 – you have little time for family
“Ask your mother.”
A lack of time for family is one of the most pressing signs that your time management needs work. It doesn’t matter if you have to provide for a kid, a wife, a mother, or even just a pet goldfish –if your schedule doesn’t afford you the chance to spend quality time with anyone other than your employees, fix it.
Not only is a strong commitment to family good for the soul, but it’s also good for the bottom line, with studies showing a link between family-centredness and productivity. It’s a big motivator, and one that’s easier to hang onto than other sources of morale, like finding your work genuinely interesting. Setting time aside for the family or other non-work priorities is an important step along the way to perfecting your workflow.
Everyone says they prioritise family but few let that alleged priority reflect in their schedules, and solving this problem is as simple as walking the talk. Clock out before dinner time, treat family days as sacred, and bring your kids to work when you can afford the split attention.
Sign #5 – you think you could do better
“I have no idea how or why, but this isn’t working.”
At the end of the day, the most significant and most reliable sign that you suffer from poor time management is your opinion on the matter. There’s no wrong time to take active steps to improve your time management –not even when everything’s running perfectly well.
As a leader, your confidence must be absolute. Your employees depend on you to demonstrate a clear idea of where your business is headed, and what you all need to do to get there –there’s no room for half-measures or uncertainty. The moment you have even an inkling of doubt about your ability to get things done, you owe it to your entire operation to find your confidence again.
The moment you feel like you could be doing better in the way of scheduling, task execution, or pacing, take advantage of the inspiration to grow. If you aren’t sure what you need to improve, go through each of your processes and routines and jot down possible changes you could make.
As you might have noticed, the signs of poor time management can be very difficult to tell apart from a normal, busy routine at work, especially in the trades. Who isn’t unsure of what they’re doing? Who does have as much time for family as they’d like? Who isn’t tired, or rushing?
If you think everything’s running smoothly, take some time to think about where your business should be headed –odds are, you aren’t as on-track with those plans as you think you are. There’s always a better way to map out a schedule or prioritise tasks, and finding them even without an urgent cause is the mark of a stellar tradie.