As a tradesperson, there are never enough hours in the day. There is a lot to fit into each working day, from dealing with inquiries, visiting sites for quotes, managing the paperwork, and actually completing the work. Many tradespeople find themselves working long into the evenings and often seven days a week.
While it’s not possible to add more hours to the day, there are ways to work smarter and save time too.
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1. Turn your phone to silent
In the trades industry, it can feel like you have to answer every call immediately, or you may lose out on work. However, constantly switching between answering the phone and completing the task at hand can cause significant delays. Instead, blocking out time to focus on your work and having a specific phone checking time can help you batch jobs.
For example, you may work for two hours and then allocate 20-30 minutes to respond to phone calls.
If you’re worried about missing potential work or essential updates, update your answerphone and email footer to share when you’ll check your phone and return their call. For example, “Thanks for your message. I check my phone at 9 am, 11 am, 1 pm and 4 pm and will respond to your inquiry then.”
If you offer emergency call outs, then it may be worth having a separate emergency phone number so you can answer these quickly without stopping your work for every notification.
2. Create Processes
It’s likely that most of your normal tasks and projects will run in the same way, so creating a process with checklists can help to ensure a smooth and efficient service. For example, adding a checklist of materials you’ll need for your standard jobs can be a great way to save time.
Your checklist can make sure ordering supplies is quick as you simply have to reel off your list rather than thinking through each thing. Having a checklist in your van can help ensure you’ve got everything you need for a job before reaching the client’s site. While creating checklists may take more time initially, they can quickly help you save time in the long run and reduce the need to go on extra journeys to collect odd bits and pieces.
3. Switch off
This may seem counterproductive, but a well-rested worker will be much more efficient in their work, helping to save time and increase productivity. Making sure you have time away from your work to enjoy hobbies and time with family can help you feel refreshed and raring to go when it comes to work.
Getting good quality sleep and managing your physical and emotional health and wellbeing can be vital for productivity.
So, if you needed an excuse to do nothing, this is it. It’s likely to make you more efficient when you are at work.
4. Bundle jobs
Studies show you can save time and be more efficient by grouping similar tasks together. For example, schedule a specific time each week for bookkeeping, or do a bi-weekly order at the suppliers instead of ordering after each job has been accepted.
While it may feel productive, multitasking can eat up valuable time as we jump from task to task. In fact, it can take you 50% more time to finish each problem when multitasking than when you do them separately.
Linking similar jobs together helps you get them all out of the way as quickly as possible. This can be vital as research shows that it can take 15 minutes to refocus on a task after a distraction. Having set times for similar tasks can eliminate the need for refocusing time.
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5. Eat the frog first!
This strange phrase comes from Mark Twain, who said, “eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” In terms of time-saving hacks, eating the frog means doing the least enjoyable task first so you do not procrastinate over completing it.
Each person will have a different perspective on the least enjoyable task on their to-do list. Getting to know the ones you dislike and often procrastinate over can help to save time when you schedule it to start your day.
If there’s an unpleasant client job, make that the first on your schedule. If you hate answering emails, ensure the first part of your day covers this so you can quickly move on to the enjoyable aspects of your work.
6. Do, ditch and delegate
A great time-saving hack is to get someone else to do it for you! In seriousness, one of the best ways to save time is to focus on what you’re good at and delegate anything that eats up all of your time to someone else. It makes more sense to focus on the activities where you add real value and profit to your business. Anything that takes you away from these profit-generating tasks may be more cost-effective to delegate.
Reviewing your to-do list through the frame of what is value-adding may help you to save time by working out what’s best to do yourself, what can be ditched from your to-do list altogether and what could be delegated to someone else.
A field service management system that stores all of your vital information, from quotes for customers to timesheets and expenses, can be a huge timesaver for busy tradespeople. With all of your information in one place, you don’t have to trawl through paperwork or scribbled notes. Instead, booking calls, putting together quotes and all customer communication are stored in one place. Then, when a job is complete, the software can invoice for you, saving even more time.
A field service management system like Workever can also help manage customer expectations, letting them know when you’ll arrive. This means you don’t have to keep taking time out of your day to provide customers with updates.
With the average tradesperson spending almost 14 hours per week on admin tasks, an automated system with project templates and schedules can give you almost two whole days a week back. Start your free trial today and see how much time you can save.