Butch Welsch

As 2008 begins, I believe it’s a good idea to consider ways to make improvements in the way we operate. As I talk to contractors, it seems that one of the biggest problems facing most contractors is that there are not enough hours in the day to complete all of the tasks that they need and/or want to accomplish.

I believe we can all agree that this is a major issue. With the advent of the computer, we were told that this new device would do so many tasks that it would significantly reduce our workloads. Is there anyone out there who has found that to be the case? Managing time in order to accomplish all of our daily and weekly goals is an extremely important ingredient if we hope to have success.

I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on time management, but I have read several books that have given me ideas regarding steps I can take to help me accomplish more in the limited amount of time available. With the new year upon us, I’d like to share some of the more helpful ideas I have gleaned from these readings. After all, what better New Year’s resolution than to reorganize the one thing we can’t replace - time.


The first step is to establish a set of goals to accomplish for the day; things that need to be done. Don’t just think about them - take a few moments and write them down. One minute of planning can save four minutes of nonproductive time. You may want to do this the night before or the very first thing in the morning. But do it! In establishing your daily goals, be realistic. Allow time for interruptions and the inevitable issues that will come up. Also remember to allow time for planning.

Now that you have a written set of goals, prioritize them. We all have times of day when we are most effective in what we are able to accomplish. Morning people accomplish more early, while others need to get going before they really can make major accomplishments. Set up your goals so that you are working on the most important and/or most difficult tasks at the time when your personal system is functioning at its best.

Also, as things come up during the day, be sure to make a written note and add them to your list. I’m a firm believer that the more we can write down the things in our mind, the more space we free up in our mind for making the decisions that need to be made. 

One major help in accomplishing your goals is to keep your desk clear of unnecessary clutter. Set a goal to look at any piece of paper just once. Determine what to do with it now. Don’t just let it clutter up your desk.


Interruptions are one of the biggest time stealers we as contractors must face. Often the interruptions might be necessary, however, just as often the reason for the interruption is something that could wait until a more appropriate time. Learn to ask a subordinate if the issue needs immediate attention or if it can wait. Also, when you are working on an important issue, don’t hesitate to announce that you don’t want to be interrupted until the project is completed. Close the door to your office and get it done.

When dealing with an issue, be decisive and implement decisions. Often it is better to make a decision to keep a project moving. Sometimes no decision is worse than a wrong decision. On the other hand, for important issues, don’t hesitate to sleep on your decision. Sometimes a few hours of pondering can be a major help in ensuring that the decision you make is the correct one.

This list of items is a good start to helping you with managing your time. There is one important item which you may have noticed I have left out. That is delegating. This is such an important topic that I thought we’d save it for next time. In the meantime, start working now on managing your time more effectively. Remember that one minute of planning saves four. That’s the best return on investment you will find all day.

Publication date:01/28/2008