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How Contractors Can Avoid Multitasking And Prevent Costly Distractions

October 17, 2019

Cecilia De La Rosa

Cecilia De La Rosa

As the owner of a growing and expanding a contracting business, you wear many hats at one time. In the midst of a busy schedule that is full of demands, it is easy for important things to slip through the cracks and be left undone, especially when it comes to safety. How many of us have been doing two or three things at one time while feeling the pressure to wrap up and get to the next thing? Then, when you’re on to the next thing you realize you forgot a safety harness, hard hat, or other important safety items. The pressure of time may leave you feeling like you should compromise safety for convenience and just get the job done. Distractions are easy to come by and easily found if time management skills are lacking. The problem is… it only takes one safety incident to cost you, or someone else, your health, damage to property, or even a life. Yes, time is precious. However, so is one’s health and life. Let’s look at a few ways that you can minimize distractions, wear fewer hats, and become more productive and safer. 

Prioritizing

Time management is, perhaps, the single biggest reason distractions happen. Lack of focus leads to a lack of discipline and this can lead to wearing too many hats at one time. How can you determine what you should be focusing on? Here are some ways at the end of the workday to plan for your next day:  

  • Highest priority, highest impact activity
  • Highest income-producing activity to focus on
  • Projects that support my weekly and monthly goals and objectives
  • People I need help or feedback from to accomplish today’s goals
  • Really important things that came up today
  • People I will contact today
  • Projects to work on if I have extra time 

Under each bullet, list three activities at the end of the day and rank them from 1-10 on the level of focus and the tasks you were able to get accomplished. This exercise will help you know exactly what you did or did not do.

Evaluating Distractions

After you list the priorities for the day, take it one step further and document what your distractions were for the day that prevented you from accomplishing your priorities. You may be shocked to learn the little things that add up to significant time:

  • Checking email.
  • Talking with co-workers about non-work-related issues.
  • Talking on the phone with family or friends about tonight’s plans.
  • Looking at the news online on your phone.
  • Phone lost connection and you couldn’t make an important call.
  • Running personal errands.
  • Going back to get forgotten safety gear.

Stop Multitasking

Multitasking may seem like a good thing. However, in the end, it’s simply a distraction. When you’re multitasking, you can only give a certain percentage of your time, mind, and energy to one thing. That can lead to oversights, mistakes, and safety risks. The reality is that you only have the capacity to do so much at one time. If you don’t prefer technology to track your priorities to keep you focused, then buy a journal and write down all of your priorities for that day so that you can remind yourself where to remain focused. Avoiding distractions that lead to costly mistakes requires discipline, regardless of whether or not you use technology to help you stay on top of your priorities. The next time you get to where you need to be, perhaps your list of priorities will ensure that you don’t forget your safety equipment that is designed to protect your health, life, and profits.

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