Future Plans Begat Current Work
Have you ever caught yourself overlooking the tasks and happenings right in front of you and constantly looking towards the future?
Whether that future is later on in the same day, the very next day or some day down the road, it is easy to have your mind on the future.
The construction industry is an industry where the processes that are happening on any given day are the result of much planning and foresight from previous days.
Even while the processes are happening on that given day, there is much thought given towards planning for future processes while that current process is occurring.
Kind of makes your head spin just thinking about it.
Embrace the Challenges
There can also be the tendency to avoid the daily challenges that present themselves on a construction project or in a construction business.
Embracing these challenges and treating them as opportunities to learn and be creative with solutions can only be found when you embrace the process as it is happening before you instead of avoiding them.
In any business endeavor you partake in and even more particularly in the construction industry, there will be points of pain that will occur.
It doesn’t matter if your business is a skilled trade or a management based general contractor, there will be things that happen on a daily, weekly and monthly basis that will cause discomfort and throw you off of your course.
It can be as simple as material not being delivered when it is supposed to arrive to as complex as scrambling to cover payroll on a Friday afternoon for a crew of a dozen.
How you approach and handle these pain points will greatly influence how your overall business and even life functions.
Don’t ignore the discomfort and hope that it will go away.
Embrace it for what it is.
View it as a challenge and turn that pain point into a strength.
The Journey is just as important as the destination
For someone like myself who basically carries out his work with the main thought process towards the future, it is a good reminder to remember to embrace the process.
When estimating costs, the costs are being calculated in real time but my mind is in the future.
When scheduling work, obviously your mind has to be in the future because the work that you are scheduling is literally in the future.
Remember that the journey is just as important as the destination.
Construction Management Mindset
Going into further detail and explaining further. During the management of a construction project there are multiple times a day where your mindset is not fully engrained in the here & now that is directly present in front of you.
In trying to keep a schedule and good work flow, your mind is living 2 weeks down the road and not in today.
Just because you might be standing inside a house that just completed rough framing does not mean that your mind is completely on the rough framing.
Your mind is racing with “I’ve got to remind the electrician to be here tomorrow”,
“The plumber will need the rough in valves in 3 days”,
“I need to tell the HVAC sub that we have a change order to foam insulation so he will need to adjust his load calculations”
“All of this needs to happen within two weeks because sheetrock needs to be dropped a week from Friday for the hangers to start the following Monday”,
“I’ve got to turn in an invoice for all of this so that our cash flow is in order and everyone can be paid on time”.
These are just examples and are basically just the tip of the iceberg of thoughts, future based thoughts, that can run through your mind in any given minute while overseeing a construction project.
Applies to skilled trades as well
Not only does that future thought process apply to the management side of a project but it applies the skilled trade side as well.
You know that step 6 & 7 of installing crown molding in a room is to glue the miters together and then nail in place.
But you have to start at step 1.
However, while your performing step 1, you have to have an eye towards steps 6 & 7 or else steps 2-5 will derail a quality install.
You are working in the present but your mind is geared towards the future.
Future planning is necessary
There is a lot of necessity in this future planning & forecasting thought process.
Using the rough framing stage example above, you would be hard pressed to be hanging sheetrock in 2 months, let alone 2 weeks if you had no plan and intention of implementing that plan.
A thought towards the future is not only good but it is necessary.
Strike a balance
By embracing the process, I mean to enjoy the work and tasks that are at hand directly in front of you.
Planning and having an eye towards the future is necessary but don’t let it overwhelm your ability to be present in the here and now.
We must plan our work and work the plan or else the work will plan our work and our lives for us.
But we should also be careful not to let it consume us, lest we forget to embrace the process.
Using the rough framing example again, on a professional level, being present in the here and now will allow you to properly inspect the rough framing that is right in front of you instead of overlooking something by being engrossed in the planning aspect.
On a personal level, being present in the here and now will allow you to better enjoy the work that you have performed and are performing versus just simply going through the motions and always being concerned with what is coming up next.
I’m preaching this to myself as much as to anyone else.
Being present in the moment is important.
Planning your current work so that it positively affects the future work is important.
Just remember to try to keep a proper balance between the current & future work and try to remember to embrace the process.
Punch List Tip of the Day
The thought of embracing the process can go well beyond the construction industry.
It can be used in your personal lives as well.
Enjoying the moments at home with your family, embracing the struggles for what they are and learning from them instead of just avoiding or wishing them away.
All are important aspects of daily life outside of your work.
As a bonus, improving the enjoyment of the journey on personal matters could also help to improve the quality of your output at work.
One of my favorite takeaways from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to “Start with the End in Mind”.
Following this concept, you are basically setting goals for your retirement party and who will be there and the accolades that you will receive on that day.
Reaching those goals, is only reached by breaking down the years, months and days into bite size tasks that build upon each other until you have hopefully reached your planned destination.
You can only drive from Seattle to New York City if you set out to drive to New York City.
You must have a plan and roadmap and be able to see the cause and effect of each decision you make.
Reaching your destination is important.
Planning is important.
Embracing each and every day and the process towards reaching that destination is also equally as important.
Remember to strike the balance between planning the work, working the plan and enjoying the ride.