Superintendents’ Guide to Reclaiming Your Time
“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” -William Penn
Time management is crucial to the success of a construction project, and no one knows this better than superintendents, who oversee EMJ’s job sites each day. We asked our “supers” to provide tips for how they make the most of each work day.
Create a Routine
Our daily lives are filled with good habits, bad habits and a mix at both. When it comes to time management, habits make or break our efficiency. One of the best things you can do to improve your daily efficiency is to form a good routine.
“When you have a routine, it is one less decision you have to make. Reports should be written daily, and weekly coordination meetings should be held on the same day at the same time every week,” says Senior Superintendent Jason Dunnam. “If you find that there’s less time in the afternoon than in the morning to accomplish a required task, make a change. Be disciplined in what is required, and do those things without complaint.”
Prioritize Your Activities
To be successful with time management you need to understand the important items and less important items of the day.
“Think critical path. What has to happen today in order for us to do our job tomorrow?” says Lead Superintendent Ken Boyd. “You must have at least a four-week look ahead—I use an eight-week—to establish daily activities.”
Superintendent Lance Lindsey has found that creating a “kill list” daily is one of his most effective routines. “The list consists of items that are non-negotiable for maintaining the job flow and schedule. It’s called a kill list because if you don’t do, or kill, the tasks then it will kill your progress later.”
Expect the Unexpected
Disruptions, unexpected changes and sudden emergencies will pop up no matter how carefully you calculate and maintain your schedule.
“When you know that disruptions are inevitable, you make room for changes in your schedule and prioritize the things that absolutely have to get done,” says Superintendent Matt Alford. “Examine if it’s worth finishing the task at hand or if those disruptions need to be addressed right away.”
“There’s a huge difference between issues and disruptions: one’s pressing and needs to be taken care of now, and the other can be put aside until later,” adds Superintendent Shawn McDonald. “Addressing the urgency of tasks before jumping in saves time and improves efficiency long-term.”
There are only so many hours in the day, and you can’t create more time. Delegation, if done correctly, is a win-win solution. It builds teamwork, good communication and empowers employees with responsibilities and tasks—while providing you with much-needed time to oversee and manage the project.
“By learning to coordinate and communicate better with my staff and not doing everything myself, I’ve freed up my time to focus on critical issues,” says Lead Superintendent Mike Maffucci.
Know What Tools Are Available
EMJ supers understand that you can’t build a building unless you have the right tools. Time management works the same way, and EMJ provides a variety of tools for superintendents to manage more efficiently and easily. And, sometimes, the simplest tools are the most effective.
“The key to success is to schedule everything,” says Lead Superintendent Ron James. “Put it on your calendar as a meeting and then do it. I use One Note to track all action and ‘to do’ items. When I’m in the field, I utilize 3×5 note cards to keep track of items that need to be addressed.”
“I use Microsoft Calendar and set reminders, and I keep handwritten lists,” adds Superintendent John Rudez. “I review them first thing in the morning, add and subtract items, update and then work through them in a triage type of manner.”
Understand There Will Be Struggles
Despite all of the routines, tools, delegation and teamwork that you may implement, there are only 24 hours in a day. Don’t pressure yourself or get stressed if incidents interfere with your productivity—tomorrow is a new day. Learn from your mistakes, and make changes as needed.
“You have to realize that you may not get everything done,” says Senior Superintendent Phillip Crissman. “Stay on task and don’t put off the things that are difficult. Attack the difficult things first and stay focused on the things that matter to the project.”
Interested in joining EMJ’s superintendent team? Learn more here.