How many times have you said to yourself, “I wish I had more time?” With one extra hour, day, week, or month, you would have enough time to complete everything thrown on your plate. Such is the life of many construction project managers who manage complex projects. When those projects do not meet deadlines, they potentially face dire consequences such as liquidated damages. Because time is finite, construction project managers must use their limited time as productively as possible. Below are some time management tips for construction managers to help them manage their time.
1. Keep the project schedule at the forefront
The project schedule is the construction project manager’s guidebook dictating what is supposed to happen, when it is supposed to happen, and how long it needs to happen for, and who is responsible to make it happen. Any impacts to the schedule create a ripple effect to shift other items within the sequence. While many commercial construction projects can last several weeks, months, and even years, construction project managers need to closely review, track, and manage the schedule on a regular basis. This can provide them with daily, weekly, and monthly task list.
2. Prioritize your task list
The project schedule creates the task list for construction project managers. However, not everything on a project and at the jobsite progresses as planned. Whether it is the wrong items delivered to the jobsite, safety risks, or coordination with the subcontractors, many items require the attention of the project manager. In addition tackling their regular task list to keep the project moving forward such as ordering materials or attending meetings with project stakeholders, construction project managers must spend their time putting out lots of fires.
While everything is important, how do you prioritize what tasks to tackle? In Stephen Covey’s best-selling book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” he suggests a matrix to help individuals determine what is important.
|Important||Quadrant I: |
Urgent and Important
|Quadrant II: |
Not Urgent and Important
|Not Important||Quadrant III: |
Urgent and Not Important
|Quadrant IV: |
Not Urgent and Not Important
Source: Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
3. Delegate tasks as needed
Construction project managers are hardworking, but there is no need for construction project managers to attack all their tasks on their own. Construction project managers are part of a team all working towards project success. They should review their tasks to see if there are any tasks that can be delegated to other team members such as administrative, project engineer, foreman, or accounting. While the construction project manager may need to spend some additional time in providing instructions and aligning expectations of the delegated task, this can set the stage for success.
Similar tasks can then be delegated for future projects and no instructions will need to be provided then. In fact, task delegation also serves as a professional development opportunity for other team members who may want to learn other aspects of the business.
4. Conduct actionable meetings
Meetings are important for team members to gather for discussion and quickly make decisions. However, many people hate meetings because there is no purpose. As a construction project manager with limited time and an insurmountable task list, it is important to spend time effectively and conduct meetings for a definitive purpose. The key to productive meetings that people look forward to attending is to make them actionable:
– Prepare for the meeting with a definitive agenda
– State the goal for the meeting
– End the meeting with action items and due dates
Following the meeting, construction project managers should distribute the meeting notes and follow up on the task assignments. Most of all, the meeting minutes serve as vital project documentation.
5. Communicate clearly and effectively
The ability to build strong relationships is one of the strengths of construction project managers. A key skill in developing those relationships is strong communication skills. Effective communication skills prevent many fires from happening in the first place. When project managers communicate clearly the details regarding a task, it ensures that the individual will complete the task correctly. Effective communication means you are speaking in terms the stakeholder (field worker, foreman, accountant, client, manager, partner, architect, etc.) will clearly understand and respond positively.
Similarly, a key part of communicating is listening. A construction project manager with poor listening skills can miss important details that can negatively affect a task or project. Asking questions, clarifying details, and confirming a crystal clear understanding will ensure that everyone is on the same page. Miscommunication on projects is a major issue, but using these tips can definitely mitigate some obvious mishaps.
6. Use the right tools
Construction management software provides a central resource for project information and communication to save time for project managers. No more time wasted searching for documents or information. With all team members able to view and contribute information on projects via construction project management software, everyone has complete visibility into project progress. Project managers can eliminate status reports from their task list, because team members can log in to the software and download their own reports. Tasks, assignments, and deadlines can be created, managed, and tracked from the software as well. Construction project management software serves as an important communication tool to automate a project manager’s tasks. There are many tips and strategies to help project managers manage their time effectively, but having the right tool will be one their biggest time savers.