BY BOB MIODONSKI
OF CONTRACTOR'S STAFF
STATELINE, NEV. — Learning to delegate tasks is just one way that contractors can manage their time better, speaker Bob Losyk told members of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractor associations of California and Oregon May 4 during the PHCC-West meeting here.
"Most people don't delegate very well because we think we can do it better than anyone or it will take too long to explain," Losyk said. "Delegating isn't dumping things on people. Sometimes we delegate to people we want to train or develop."
Selecting the best person is one of six delegation guidelines that Losyk recommended in his presentation, "How to Manage Your Time When You Wear Too Many Hats." The other five are: make sure that the task has to be done; don't over-delegate; communicate the exact purpose, expectations and limits of authority; let the person know that you believe in him; and set a timeframe or deadline.
As to what to delegate, Losyk suggested: recurring routine details and decisions; jobs that take large chunks of time; jobs you're least qualified for; tasks that you don't like to do; and duties that develop the abilities of others.
"After the successful completion of a delegated task or project, make sure to recognize and reward them," he said.
Contractors should keep a time-control log over a threeday, or even a three-week, period, Losyk said. This would consist of jotting down short notes of what they do during the day.
" You'll find out where you're wasting your time, how to delegate better and what fires you had to put out," he said.
Losyk called procrastination an enemy of good time management. Waiting to do things until the last minute is not productive.
"Some people are addicted to urgency," he said. "They think they work better under pressure. You work faster but not better. You're not doing your best work."
Losyk recommended a series of steps to overcome procrastination, which are:
- Use positive self-talk, such as "Do it now!";
- Break things down into small tasks or parts;
- Get the hard part out the way first and tackle the hard parts during your prime time;
- Set a deadline;
- Work only with a project until it's done, and chain yourself to the desk until it's finished;
- If you're accomplishing nothing, however, set the task aside and come back to it;
- Reward yourself when the job is completed; and
- Make things more fun and interesting when possible.
File, Act, Discard
Most people's No. 1 time waster is trying to find something, Losyk told PHCC members. They should file stuff away, attempt to keep a clean desk and remember FAD, which stands for file, act, discard.
"They're the only three things that you can do with a piece of paper," he told the contractors. "If you do one of those three things, you will handle a piece of paper only once. Over 60% of the stuff in your desk can be thrown out immediately."
When filing, contractors should use broad categories and file by color, numbers, alphabetically and chronologically. They should list on the outside of the file what's inside and have a sheet with the name of each file in each drawer. They should clean out file folders at least once a year.
Toss books, magazines
Beyond papers, contractors should throw out books that they never read and go through old magazines to cut out the articles they want to save.
"And don't keep junk just because it cost you money to obtain it," Losyk said.
Noting that only about 5% of Americans set goals, he said that goals have to be written in detail, with a due date, or they probably won't get done. When setting group goals, group members should be rewarded when they achieve their goal.
The best way to prioritize a daily todo list is to rank the items as A, B, C or D. Then, the items can be further broken down as A-1, A-2, B-1, B-2, etc. The following questions can help in setting priorities:
- Of my long-range, high-priority goals, which should I work on today?
- Which of these projects will give me the greatest return on my time?
- Which project, if not worked on, presents the greatest threat to my job?
- Which immediate items from previous lists should I work on today?
- What will happen if I ignore them?
When a PHCC member asked what he should do if he had two items on his list both ranked as A-1, Losyk answered: "Ask yourself what is the most critical thing to do to keep your business running."