How To Get Control Of Your Life

Budget Your Time…You Have a Limited Amount

For years I have heard people express frustration with organizing and managing their schedules and “to do” lists. For years I was one of those people. These issues are multiplied when running a business.

Not that I have it all figured out but, I’m closer than I’ve ever been.

The question of what the best tool to use to manage scheduling and “to do” lists, has come up a lot lately. Most people are looking for a simple app or tool that will magically do it all.

There is nothing that will miraculously do this for you.

I’ve been refining my scheduling system for decades. Trying different things, starting with paper calendars, notebooks and notes on scrap paper. Now it’s all on my computer. I like my system way better now than before (I still use some paper for quick notes). However, it doesn’t do the work without my involvement.

Here’s the thing, most of us have way more things on our lists than there is time to get them done. Or we forget to do something because it wasn’t written down. Or the paper it was written on got lost in a stack of papers. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and forget or misplace reminders.

Keeping track of things is the most important part of being organized.

We naturally want order in our lives. We want to be in control. The problem is we live in a world of chaos. Organization is a weapon to fight against the chaos. The more organized we are the less chaos there is.

What does organization look like? According to Webster, organization is, “the act or process of organizing or being organized.” Organize is, “to form into a coherent unity or functioning whole, to arrange by systematic planning and united effort.” This sounds good to me.

Having OCD, Organizational Compulsive Disorder, I organize at a level more intense and detailed than most.

My system works for me. This doesn’t mean that everyone’s has to be at this level. Some people feel restricted by a schedule. Just like some people feel that a budget restricts them financially.

I find both to be freeing.

My detailed system allows me to know what to expect. Not to mention it keeps me motivated to get more done. I used to struggle to determine what thing should be done next.

It is a combination of lists and calendars. My “to do” lists are a place to write things down so that they aren’t forgotten. I then prioritize the things that need to be done to reach goals. Each task gets an amount of time and then put on the calendar. The calendar allows me to see the tasks as a block of time and not just an item on a list.

A calendar works like a “budget” for time.

It is easy to let things slide if you aren’t intentional about planning. The most important thing is to know yourself and figure out what works for you.

Next week I will open up my toolbox and show you the tools I use to keep control of my life and minimize the chaos.

How to Be Sure You Don’t Overlook Something…

 

 

 

 

 

When Gathering Information for A Construction Proposal

 

You or someone you know has experienced a construction project horror story. A dream project that somewhere along the way turned into a nightmare. A communication disconnect that caused the customer and the contractor to be at odds.

 


Why is miscommunication in construction so common?


In the first post of this Blueprint for Building A Better Proposal series, I wrote about this communication problem and that a better proposal is the contractor’s responsibility. Contractors don’t start a construction project with the intention of a misunderstanding…so why is it too often the result?


Most people in the construction trades, learned their specific trade, but were never taught how to do a proposal.


In the second post of the series I explained the parts of the proposal system. In the third, I went through the different steps of the process

 


In this post we’ll break down STEP 1 – Gathering Information:


The first information you should gather is WHY. Why does the customer want to do this project? Do they need more space, does something need repaired or replaced, are they looking to make it more usable, or is it just because they want to? Knowing the why early helps determine a clear direction going forward.


Unless the customer has a full set of blueprints and specifications, a site visit should be one of the very first parts of this step. Every individual project is as different as the customer is. Without blueprints, specs or seeing the existing location the chances of giving the customer the project they want, is almost impossible.


Information that needs to be gathered:

  • Project info (customer name, mailing address, project address if different than mailing, phone number, email address, project overview, any other relevant information that you need)
  • Measurements and dimensions, existing and new
  • Building materials, existing and new
  • Pictures of pertinent areas and existing construction
  • Customer’s design ideas and finishes


The important part is to not overlook something.


 

Use whatever way works best for you to gather the info. Early on I used graph paper and a clip board. I continued to go through different processes before getting where I currently am.


After the graph paper I developed a printed Bid Sheet that had a pre-determined list of the different construction tasks that might be needed. Next to each task there was space for writing down a brief description, dimensions, specific notes, drawings, etc. Having a pre-determined list is a great way to minimize the possibility of forgetting something.


Now I use the same basic Bid Sheet on a Microsoft Surface tablet and can either type, write or draw right on the document. This streamlines the process and reduces the chance of something getting overlooked.


Forgetting to include something in the proposal is a sure way to lose money.


There are over one hundred items listed on the Bid Sheet and it still doesn’t cover every possibility. Construction projects vary a lot. Even small projects can include a lot of different pieces. If you leave one of the pieces out, someone’s going to end up unhappy.

 


If you start with a list, you’re less likely to overlook something.


Next week we’ll take the information gathered on the Bid Sheet and turn it into a Scope of Work.

 

 

How to Be Sure You Don’t Overlook Something…

 

 

 

 

 

When Gathering Information for A Construction Proposal

 

You or someone you know has experienced a construction project horror story. A dream project that somewhere along the way turned into a nightmare. A communication disconnect that caused the customer and the contractor to be at odds.

 


Why is miscommunication in construction so common?


In the first post of this Blueprint for Building A Better Proposal series, I wrote about this communication problem and that a better proposal is the contractor’s responsibility. Contractors don’t start a construction project with the intention of a misunderstanding…so why is it too often the result?


Most people in the construction trades, learned their specific trade, but were never taught how to do a proposal.


In the second post of the series I explained the parts of the proposal system. In the third, I went through the different steps of the process

 


In this post we’ll break down STEP 1 – Gathering Information:


The first information you should gather is WHY. Why does the customer want to do this project? Do they need more space, does something need repaired or replaced, are they looking to make it more usable, or is it just because they want to? Knowing the why early helps determine a clear direction going forward.


Unless the customer has a full set of blueprints and specifications, a site visit should be one of the very first parts of this step. Every individual project is as different as the customer is. Without blueprints, specs or seeing the existing location the chances of giving the customer the project they want, is almost impossible.


Information that needs to be gathered:

  • Project info (customer name, mailing address, project address if different than mailing, phone number, email address, project overview, any other relevant information that you need)
  • Measurements and dimensions, existing and new
  • Building materials, existing and new
  • Pictures of pertinent areas and existing construction
  • Customer’s design ideas and finishes


The important part is to not overlook something.


 

Use whatever way works best for you to gather the info. Early on I used graph paper and a clip board. I continued to go through different processes before getting where I currently am.


After the graph paper I developed a printed Bid Sheet that had a pre-determined list of the different construction tasks that might be needed. Next to each task there was space for writing down a brief description, dimensions, specific notes, drawings, etc. Having a pre-determined list is a great way to minimize the possibility of forgetting something.


Now I use the same basic Bid Sheet on a Microsoft Surface tablet and can either type, write or draw right on the document. This streamlines the process and reduces the chance of something getting overlooked.


Forgetting to include something in the proposal is a sure way to lose money.


There are over one hundred items listed on the Bid Sheet and it still doesn’t cover every possibility. Construction projects vary a lot. Even small projects can include a lot of different pieces. If you leave one of the pieces out, someone’s going to end up unhappy.

 


If you start with a list, you’re less likely to overlook something.


Next week we’ll take the information gathered on the Bid Sheet and turn it into a Scope of Work.

 

 

How to Simplify A Complicated Business System

Focusing on One Shovel Full of the Mountain at A Time

With my years of construction experience, I tend to view things from a building perspective. The things needed to build a good structure are the same for building a good business.

 

These things are:

Purpose – The why, the reason for building it, who is it going to serve?

Design – How is it going to look, how is it going to serve (products, services or both)?

Style – Personal preference of the finished project, not everyone wants everything to be the same, we are all individuals.

Foundation – This is what supports everything else, the core values of the construction.

Framing – This is what sets on the foundation and connects everything, it is the system of operating.

Tools – These are used to put everything together and maintain it daily.

Team – The people employed to put the pieces together and to perform the daily operations.

 

There is a lot that goes into building something. I have written about how building and operating a business can be like standing in the shadow of an overwhelming mountain and the importance of having a clear plan and being organized. It is easy to be pulled in many different directions when trying to build and operate all the different pieces of a business.

 

By nature, I tend to make things complicated (sometimes more than they need to be). This is in part due to my focus on detail and isn’t all bad. The down side to being like this is that things don’t get done very fast. I know that I need help to build my business and move my mountain.

 

I have been working to get better at sharing shovels. I have determined that one of the things I’ve done in the past is to overwhelm new team members. So, to avoid this I am working on ways to simplify the system and to focus on one shovel of the mountain at a time.

 

Our business has three areas of focus; Sales/Marketing, Production/Operations and Administration/Finance. There is a lot in each of these areas and they all are critical to the support of the business. Keeping them operating equally is one of the most important and difficult tasks.

 

The focused shovel today is preparing a Proposal. This is the area that I’m currently working on in preparation for my Administrative Assistant. It involves things that both I need to do and things I can delegate.

 

Preparing a Proposal involves:

Meeting with the customer – Finding out what the project consists of and helping them figure out what their dream is. Take pictures, get measurements and make the necessary notes needed.

Writing down the scope of work to be done – Fill out the areas and categories of the Bid Sheet with the explanation of the work to be done.

Preparing the price for doing the work – Use the information gathered to determine lineal feet, square feet, cubic feet, etc. of the different areas described in the Bid Sheet and enter it into the Worksheet.

Compiling this information on to the Proposal – Take the information of the two previous bullet points and put it on the Proposal to be presented to the customer.

I know that I have almost forty years of developing this system and I need to get it out of my head, simplify it and put it on paper if I ever hope to move this mountain.