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Productivity Tips: Get a Grip on That Elusive Focus

We live in a world of a thousand distractions. There are so many events happening in a single day. Hundreds of things are constantly competing for our attention. Most of us are driven crazy by the most mundane notifications on our phone. Add to these, the hundreds of tasks that you have to do for your construction projects, and you’ve got one stressed-out individual.

So today, we’re going to lessen your stress by giving you some tips on how to grab hold of that elusive focus. Let’s break down a few simple hacks on how you can concentrate on the things that matter, WHEN it matters the most.

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1. Understand Your Unique Personal Work Style

When are you the most productive? For some people, they work best when in a crowded coffeeshop, surrounded by loud chatter. Others concentrate better when in an environment that’s sompletely quiet. At what time of day are you able to work best? Do you work best early in the morning, or are you a night owl? Do you need a hot cup of coffee beside you, or do you work better with an empty stomach? What lighting conditions work best for you?

We all have our own little rituals when it comes to getting things done. So it’s important to be mindful of these little details in order to recreate the best working environment for yourself. Remember that the mind can be programmed too. If you provide it with the correct stimulus, it will follow suit.

2. Do, Delegate, Defer, Dump

It’s hard to stay focused when you’re dealing with too much stuff. So one of the first things that you need to do is identify whether a task or issue is important (or unimportant), urgent (can be delayed). Group your tasks and if they fall under the category of important and urgent, prioritize them on your to-do list. If they are important but not so urgent, you can schedule them at a later time. If they are not too critical but needs to be done asap, delegate it to another team member. But if it’s neither important nor urgent, you better scrap it altogether. Differentiating the level of importance and urgency of each task will aid you in prioritization and focus.

3. Manage Your Reactions

A sudden buzzing on your phone can trigger an immediate response from us. But it may just be a friend sending you a funny cat meme. A new email notification may prompt us to read it asap, but it could be just a promotion from your local grocery. A colleague may be calling, but it could just be Hank, asking you out for drinks after work. There will be hundreds, even thousands of stimuli all wanting our immediate attention, the key is to manage how you react to each one. If you can, try to remove unimportant distractions so that you won’t be forced to react to them (Hello, social media!). But even work-related issues can be properly managed. Instead of panicking about a quick REACTION, take your time to craft the best RESPONSE. We humans are emotional creatures so our reactions are often fueled by instinct. In order to retain focus, we should let our conscious mind take control.

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4. Learn to Say NO

As mentioned earlier, you have to lessen the stuff on your plate. Say NO to social media for certain hours in a day. Say NO to meetings in the mornings if that’s your most productive time of day. Say NO to little tasks that can easily be done by your subordinates. Say NO to that little voice in your head that keeps on saying that you need to do everything yourself. By lessening your load, you can actually focus, and do more of the things that really matter.

5. Reward Yourself for Focus

We’ve mentioned a while ago that the brain can be programmed. And one of the most tried and tested ways to program our minds is through reward systems. Therefore, after a super productive hour of legit work, reward yourself with something- be it a short walk, a delicious cup of coffee, or a literal pat on the back. Train yourself to feel good after accomplishing something. This way, you will be more inspired to focus and work because your brain knows that it will feel so good afterwards.

Of course, you also need the right tools to help you focus on the most important tasks of your business. To aid you in this, there’s SAM- the Superintendent’s Automated Manager. This unique construction scheduling software was designed to help builders handle several projects simultaneously. Click here to find out more about how it can help you speed up construction build times.

Is Housing an important political issue? Most homebuyers don’t realize that it is.

A recent survey conducted last month by Redfin Real Estate Brokerage, showed that most homebuyers don’t see Housing as an important political issue for this year’s elections.

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When asked about how a newly-elected president can affect the housing market, 75% of the respondents believed that the winner won’t affect the industry that much. 15% said that the next president can worsen the current housing market, while only 11% believed that out next leader can improve it.

For the average homebuyer, an individual’s decision to purchase a house is personal, not political. 29% of the survey respondents stated that their decision to buy was brought about by a major life event such as a wedding or having kids. The second most-cited reason for buying, according to the survey, was rent fluctuations- usually, the rent is becoming too high for most people.

Issues such as rent hikes, school quality, accessible city infrastructure, sufficient parking spaces, the availability of green spaces, urban planning and zoning, property taxes… all of these factors are unquestionably political. These are the most common considerations for people before purchasing a house, and we can’t deny that they are linked to good governance.

State and local races are therefore the concern of every citizen.

But what about for the national candidates? Well, housing accounts for roughly 18% of our nation’s economy. Taxpayers back most US home loans, whether directly or indirectly. The Federal Reserve sets monetary policy, which then in turn affects mortgage rates. The US Congress determines fiscal policy and therefore has the power to decide on issues about mortgage tax deductions and tax breaks. Furthermore, national environmental and safety laws can hugely affect how and where your house will be built.

According to Redfin Chief Economist, Nela Richardson, “Housing is seen by the government as an engine of wealth creation for the middle class. With income inequality a growing concern, housing still plays a crucial role in economic well-being for most families and that’s an issue worth voting for.”

In addition, our next president will also be forced to set a national housing agenda whether he wants to or not.

So in the end, your vote still does matter. As homeowners, builders, and contractors, we all have a stake in this. As informed industry professionals, let us do our part in reminding the public about how every vote truly counts.

 

To know more about how builders and contractors can efficiently address stringent project management requirements, let us introduce you to SAM. 

Are you a high performer or a workaholic?

Yes, there’s a big difference between the two. While the two may both look like they’re working hard, high performers have a more effective, sustainable work ethic. Workaholics on the other hand, have higher stress levels and are perfect candidates for burnout. From the outside, high performers and workaholics both seem like they’re delivering the same performance. But if you look closely, they have very different work styles and perspectives on how to “succeed.”

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According to researcher and author Jullien Gordon, “the big difference is how the individual feels on the inside about who they are in [relation] to their work,” He also adds that a high performer works hard in “healthy sustainable ways and feels happy and inspired.” Meanwhile, a workaholic “works hard in unhealthy unsustainable ways and feels unhappy and burned out.”

Let’s clarify this further by identifying their crucial differences.

1. A workaholic needs others to feel their worth. A high performer knows his or her value.

A typical workaholic depends on external validation from the people around him. This may be his boss, co-workers, or clients. They wait eagerly for external evaluations (annual reviews, mid-year reviews) because it allows them to understand how well they are performing. The result of this attitude is a person who constantly works with a sense of fear. Afraid of getting notices, scolded, or rated poorly.

On the other hand, a high performer knows his or her self-worth and often works with a sense of freedom. Unlike the workaholic who relies on external validation, a high performer often creates a self-feedback system that loops and constantly checks himself. They don’t go around waiting for a pat on the back. Due to their attitude, the congratulatory gestures from others, often come naturally.

2. Workaholics are busy. High performers do business.

According to Gordon, “Workaholics fill any space in time with busy work because they feel insecure doing nothing.” Again, this stems from not knowing their own value. Their goal is to busy (or appear busy) at all times. Often, they think that the busier they appear, the more important they must be.

A high performer however is aimed at doing real business. They are very results-oriented. “If they can’t see a way to create value in the moment, they facilitate or strategize instead. They know that like the economy, business comes in waves, therefore they get ready during the dips so they can capitalize during the upswings.”

3. High performers bring 100% at the right time. Workaholics give 110% ALL the time.

High performers know that bringing 110% 24×7 is unsustainable. What they do is figure out the best, most perfect, most crucial time to give it everything they’ve got. This way, they can conserve their energy and efforts into activities that will yield the most results. It’s a tactical decision. A calculated move.

To better themselves, what they do is increase their capacity and skill so that their 100% is better than their competitor’s 110%.

So which of these are you? Are you a high performing construction manager who knows how to expertly manage his time and efforts? Or are you a workaholic who’s always afraid of being idle and getting reprimanded?

Don’t just work hard. Work “smart”.

In order for you to manage your time, attention and resources better, you need to employ the right tools and the right technology. Project managers and construction superintendents, for example, can use digital schedulers that can sync tasks semalessly, produce reports instantly, and send project updates remotely.

Check out the benefits of SAM – The Superintendent’s Automated Manager and become the high performer that you should be.

2016 Tech Trends for the Construction Industry

Today we’re listing down some of the hottest construction industry trends that we foresee will be more prevalent in 2016. Keep an eye out because it could be time for you to incorporate them now into your business.

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Inspection Drones

Drones have been the hot-topic of 2015. Everyday consumers may be getting most of the fun, but businesses are using it too. From movie-making to extreme sports and even to wedding photography, these flying cameras have proven that they can be useful in getting valuable perspectives. The same is true for construction. A drone can be very handy for jobsite inspections, especially for areas that are harder to reach on foot. Think bridge undersides, unfinished floors, roofs, and so on. It’s also pretty cool to use for your company’s marketing and documentation pursuits.

Wearable Technology

We all know the hazards involved in a construction site. And with the advent of wearable tech that can monitor a person’s vital signs, you can expect construction companies to assimilate these health-tech with worker safety. A smart watch may alert health personnel if a person’s blood sugar has dropped or if someone’s heartbeat is going dangerously fast. This way, workers in remote locations can easily ask for and receive first aid assistance.

More and More Automation for Construction Sites

Constructions in 2016 will surely be marked by high automation and high quality. Every year, we see more and more of those modular construction projects that take a fraction of time to build compared to typical builds. 3D printing is also poised to create a bigger impact in the manufacturing of materials.

Cloud Adoption

While some businesses have long been harnessing the benefits of cloud computing, some are still yet to follow. This year, we’ll probably see more and more companies adopting cloud storage and cloud strategies. For the construction industry, the cloud offers process streamlining, stakeholder accountability and critical mobile access.

Stringent Tech Security

Hacking, viruses, malware, these are threats to any kind of business. As we become more tech-savvy and tech-reliant in 2016, companies are now becoming more aware of the risks that comes with network and security vulnerabilities. It’s a must to protect our proprietary data, financial info, and client credentials. Even blueprints and plans need to be safeguarded whether you’re on physical or cloud storage.

Planning and Management Software Become More Important

Mobile (remote) collaboration and automated project status reporting will continue to be a necessity for construction companies. And because of this, project management software and scheduling applications will continue to be in demand this year. As clients become more impatient, they want projects done fast and demand for instant information.

What about you? What do you expect to see more of this year? Do you have any new tech adoptions or breakthrough discoveries to share with us?

If you’re interested in knowing more about Automated Trackers’ patented project management and scheduling tool, click here to get a free online demonstration. 

Contractor Must-Know: How to Handle Conflict During Construction

No matter how small or how big a project is, it is always prone to challenges. Oftentimes, major conflicts like claim disputes, arbitration, and litigation may even come up. These types of problems are not just time-consuming, they can be very costly too. The National Research Council estimates that $4B to $11B is spent annually in resolving these cases in the U.S. market.

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And as a contractor, you often have to play the role of an unbiased outside party. You have to do whatever it takes to avoid these costly nightmares. To aid you in this, check out the following practices often upheld by Project Neutrals or Individual Dispute Review Boards.

1. Develop Trusting Relationships

You have to develop trust between all stakeholders of the project. If you’re building a home for a family, you have to consider each member’s needs, while also putting into account any homeowner, neighborhood, city, municipal, or state guidelines. In the case of people, when trust levels are high, there is less tendency for involved parties to be defensive. Conflict resolution is much easier if everyone is on the same page.

2. Be an Active Participant in the Project

In order to establish your role in a project, and to build trusting relationships among stakeholders, you shouldn’t just be a passive observant. Be an active participant! Make your significance clear. Make your presence felt. Assure them that you have their best interests in mind and that you have the capacity to make it happen. Let them see you do your stuff.

3. Communicate Clearly

Nothing spells a sure disaster more than unclear communication. We all know that construction projects can amass a lot of paperwork, documentation, permits, and so on. We have to ensure that the message of each document is crystal clear and cannot be interpreted vaguely. Not just in paperwork, you have to ensure that all modes of communication are clear. Be it text, email, calls, or in-person communication— it’s a must to deliver your instructions as clearly as possible.

4. Treat Everyone Fairly

Don’t just prioritize your client. You also have to be fair to your employees, contractors, drivers, business partners, suppliers, and so on. To avoid (and resolve) conflict, you have to make them feel that you are being fair to everyone who’s involved in the project.

5. Be a Resource Person

As the project manager or construction manager, you should be the nucleus or nerve center of knowledge. All parties concerned should be able to come to you and ask questions. Of course, it’s your job to have information ready at a moment’s notice. For this you have to maintain a stable timeline, have good reporting skills, and a firm grasp of the project’s status.

Construction can be a real pain in the behind, IF you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s why it’s important to study best practices, learn from mistakes, and use whatever tools and resources you have at your disposal.

Automated Trackers believes in you! Happy building!