It seems that in the construction business—design and finance—there is an ever-accelerating outpouring of technology and knowledge. Because I sometimes worry that advances will pass me by, I’m always trying to figure out how to leverage my time. I want to maximize what I do without decreasing quality or cutting corners. But how?

Someone recently told me: “If sleep didn’t get in the way, I would have time to accomplish all my goals.” Don’t we all feel that way sometimes? Here are 5 things I do to increase my personal efficiency, so that I can get lots taken care of and still find time for a little shuteye.

  • Save industry reads for downtime. I go through the Wall Street Journal every Saturday morning, cutout  the pertinent articles, then read them on my next airline trip.
  • Get an executive summary on technology. I subscribe to two bloggers who deliver an overview of what’s happening in marketing, social media and technology. I think these guys are pretty sharp, and worth my time. Check out Chris Brogan and Mashable.
  • Carry an electronic data recorder. Mine is small and relatively inexpensive. Whenever I get an idea or think of someone to contact, I record the thought straight away, then take action later. I’ve saved a lot of good fleeting thoughts this way.
  • Use voice to text. I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking software to dictate my e-mails. It saves a lot of keystrokes, freeing me up to communicate more often.
  • Subscribe to RSS. I use Google Reader, an amazing product. At a glance one can gain knowledge of specifics across a wide spectrum of publications and in my case on construction, design and finance.

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Merrill Stewart is Founder and President of the Stewart Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham, Ala. Contact him via email.

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