Plan for next year's vacation

Cool autumn days approach, and many remodelers have yet to enjoy the sensations of summer. Instead, 60 hours at work is a 'light' week. Next year, don’t be stuck in the office while others head for vacation destinations.

September 05, 2000

Cool autumn days approach, and many remodelers have yet to enjoy the sensations of summer. Instead, 60 hours at work is a "light" week. Next year, don’t be stuck in the office while others head for vacation destinations. Take steps today that will allow for a summer holiday.

Robert Criner’s time management tips:

  • Write it down (every day).

  • Make a list (every day).

  • Set your priorities (every day).

  • Make a schedule (every day).

  • Delegate.

  • It is OK to say no.

  • Keep your eye on what is important.

  • Your time is limited, so spend it wisely.
  • The first step toward easing stress and the number of hours spent at work is focusing on what it means to run a company. Opening mounds of mail can be accomplished just as well by someone else. Remodelers who effectively run their businesses relinquish control of select functions to trusted employees. "Remodelers need to learn to delegate jobs to other people," says Robert Criner, CGR, president of Criner Construction in Yorktown, Va. "You need to have the strength and the wisdom to give good people credit."

    This is difficult for some remodelers because ownership tends to accompany the need to solve problems and have a constant presence in the company. "Remodelers have their own way of doing things," says Criner. "You need to realize that it is OK if a person does a job right, even if it isn’t done in the same way that you would do it." Delegating responsibility does not mean that Criner abandons all control. He still guides, trains and assesses employees so that they become reliable and their work meets the standards of the company.

    Delegating responsibility is just one of many techniques that produce a more efficient schedule. "You need to keep an eye on the important things and not get bogged down," Criner says. This is the crux of a time management course Criner took when he started remodeling. Since then, the lessons learned in this class have transformed into his philosophy -- success comes by running a clean business.

    "Time management is about organizing your thoughts, making things-to-do lists and then just doing them," he says. "The transition from head to paper and then from paper to a schedule is usually the most difficult skill to master." To aid this transition, Criner began using a system he calls "index card management." He would write a task on each index card, band the cards together and place them in his pocket. When a task was completed, he would throw that card away.

    After the system grew more routine, Criner got into the habit of spending the first five to 10 minutes of work preparing the cards for the day. Eventually he was filling them out at the end of the day so he knew what tasks were ahead.

    Then Criner added a ranking system of one to five, with the more crucial tasks ranking lower. "At the end of the day, the cards ranked a four or a five usually got thrown out because they weren’t priority tasks," he says.

    By organizing his thoughts, Criner has the opportunity to relax and enjoy life, which could easily be consumed by his work. He encourages his employees to take two weeks of paid vacation each year and sets an example by taking vacation himself.

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