My biggest pet peeve, actually I have a few, but one that always gets me going is hearing, “I don’t have enough time.” This sentence to me is like nails on a chalkboard. I cringe every time I hear it. This phrase is nonsense and I’ll tell you why. When I first started as a spec coordinator, I’ll be honest, I used this phrase quite often, not just at work, but at home as well. As I continued working and learning, I realized how ridiculous this phrase is. I completely cut it out of vocabulary at work and at home. Let me say, it has made a difference. I no longer look at my tasks in a general sense. I break them down by how long each task takes and go from there. Yes, we all wish for more hours in a day, but that doesn’t excuse poor time management skills or being over worked. Projects suffer, teams suffer, and individuals suffer, mentally and physically.
When I hear this phrase now, it is almost always in regard to specs and if the team has reviewed them. The conversation usually goes like this:
Me: You have a submittal next week, did you get a chance to review the project manual?
Project Team Member: No, sorry, I haven’t. I don’t have the time and been too busy with other items.
Me: Okay, but they will need to be reviewed.
Project Team Member: Yes, I will go ahead and review those this weekend or next week.
Me: (thinking in my head) That only gives me like a day to turn the markups AROUND!!
Those markups never come, most of the time.
This is in regards to specs, 50% of the Contract Documents!! How is it that people/teams do not have enough time to review the specs to ensure for a well coordinated project manual? Drawings are not everything. Specs are the first thing lawyers look at. They are exact and almost always have one interpretation.
I have come to the conclusion that there are two reasons for this phrase:
1. The person is being overworked and needs help.
2. The person has poor time management.
I usually give people the credit, and think they are overworked and trying the best the can. If it happens over and over, then I start to think they can’t manage their time properly. So, for those that have trouble with this, here are some tips:
1. Write out a daily or weekly agenda in terms of priorities, i.e., due dates.
2. Figure out how long it takes to do your most common tasks and improve those times.
3. Focus on the complicated tasks first, those usually take the most time.
4. Take breaks to refresh the mind
Using these simple tips will certainly help you. It might not solve the full picture, but it’s steps in the right direction. I was trained to look for inefficiencies in production and management. I constantly do that. It is one way I improve myself. If I feel like hours are running short, I look back on what I could have done faster, better, and more accurate. I recently heard a podcast where the speaker was talking about wasted time on a job site and boiled it down to walking. He realized if you are walking, you are not “working”, you are not making money. One day, if unions ever allowed, everyone will wear ankle bracelets like Amazon to track movement. The same could be said for those who sit at a desk, like me, but instead of tracking movement, it would track mouse movement and keyboard strokes. Productivity is everything, and it comes down to how well a person manages their time.
Back to specs…
Specs are so important. In my mind, and I tell everyone this, “It’s not your job to worry about specs, you still have to think about them, but it’s my job to worry about them.” I try to make their lives better. Making specification writers more integrated with project teams is something I am striving for. Not to just help me, but to also help everyone else. So that these people can say to me one day, “Yes, I did look at and review the specs.”
I don’t know when specs became so, I hate to say it, but pushed aside or neglected. I know this is not a local topic, but a topic many larger firms have. I think, partly it boils down to education and what people know or don’t know about specs (future post). If everyone had more knowledge and understood fully the ramifications of not having a coordinated project manual, I wouldn’t be typing this post…
I am hearing this phrase less at my firm. The specs… well… It is getting better! Change takes time as I am learning, and so will getting everyone to stop using this phrase. If I can accomplish one goal this year, it would be to help those that feel they don’t have enough time to teach them time management or help them in tasks so they are not overworked or feel so overworked.
We are all on the same team, working towards the same goal.