Dear Jayme,

I'm constantly busy, but at the end of the day, I've barely kept up, let alone made any progress. My day is a series of distractions and interruptions that keep me from concentrating on the overall business, but if I don't stay involved, everything stops. What can I do?      




Dear Chris,

The obvious answer is to eliminate the distractions without disabling the business, and that's completely doable. Before we can eliminate the distractions though, we need to figure out what they are and how much time they're consuming.

First, figure out your current situation...

Gather the Data:

  • Buy a pocket-size calendar broken into quarter hours. This will be your constant companion for one week.
  • Log everything you do from getting out of bed Monday morning until bedtime Sunday night. At the end of each day (bedtime), there must be no empty spaces. Include detail-"Phone call" isn't as helpful as "Phone call to Louie about repairing the cement mixer."

(This is a pain. Do it anyway. It's only a week.)

Categorize Your Activities:

  • Personal Time-Leisure, family time, lunch, non-business errands and calls, etc.
  • Strategic Work-Planning, high level decision-making, systems development, etc.
  • Technical Owner's Work (TO)-Operational stuff that no one else could possibly do.
  • Technical Employee Work (TE)-Tasks that you could offload if you knew they'd be done right by others.
  • Wasted Time-Things with no real purpose or payback.
  • Total the hours for each.

Determine Your Real Work Week: Subtract your personal hours from 112 (16 waking hours X 7 days). This should determine how much time you spend working.


Analyze Your Work Time-What Percentage is Spent On:

  • Strategic work-An effective owner spends at least 60 percent of his time doing big-picture, long-range projects.
  • Technical Owner's Work-If it's more than 20 percent, something's wrong.
  • Technical Employee's Work-Many owners spend a huge portion of their time doing the work of an employee.
  • Time Wasters/Phantoms-A few categories of these probably represent most of the total.

Consider Your Priorities: What percentage of your waking hours is devoted to personal things? A forty-hour work week means about two-thirds goes towards personal time for you. Working sixty hours drops it to 46 percent. Is this in line with your priorities?

How to Get Your Time Back:

  • Build processes, get and train good people, and delegate-This is the single best thing you can do to both shake loose from the firefighting and start making real progress. Learn how to delegate effectively (solid processes run by capable people) and you can unload all of this with no loss of effectiveness or control. Delegation is a whole topic of its own. For more information on this, ask me via my website.
  • Eliminate the prime time wasters-You'll never get rid of all of them, but every hour wasted is an hour at home you've lost.
  • Do this exercise every quarter-Otherwise you'll drift off track.

An owner usually has enough time but is using it in unproductive ways. You can be successful working forty hours a week if you use that time properly. Many owners do this, but you don't see them because they're at home while you're signing the checks and ordering the toilet paper.



Jayme Dill Broudy


Construction Business Owner, October 2009