Updated: May 10
If you’re an owner-operator, it’s easy to see why you’d sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed. You probably have new equipment purchases to make or save for, important schedules to keep, and bills to pay. You’re moving across multiple functions on any given day. It’s no wonder that keeping things straight is challenging.
So how can you increase your productivity and make your life a little easier? Here are 7 tried and true time management and productivity tips for owner-operators:
Don’t multitask. Yes, you wear tons of hats, but don’t try to wear them all at the same time. If you’re on task, stay on that task until it’s complete and finished. The quality of your work suffers when you don’t devote your full attention to the task at hand.
Don’t procrastinate. It’s a simple win to check off all the easy tasks on your daily to-do list, but don’t put off those difficult or daunting tasks because they’re unpleasant. Tackle them head on and complete it. It will make you feel good, accomplished, and relieved to get it off your list and get it done!
Plan your work; work your plan. Create a list of tasks you need to accomplish each morning. Make the list realistic. Prioritize those tasks and then start with number one and work through your list. Sounds simple enough, but all too often distractions get in the way and before you know it you’re multitasking (see point one).
Check email only after completing a task. It’s very easy to get distracted if you check your email after every email notification alert. While it may be hard to do at first, try ignoring those alerts until you’ve finished the task at hand, and only then review your inbox.
Use the calendar feature of your email system. Google and Outlook both have integrated calendar features that allow you to plan your schedule. Don’t just plan your meetings. Put placeholders in for the tasks you need to accomplish, including the obvious like stops or breaks. These calendars have mobile apps as well, allowing you to access your calendar on the go.
Plan for contingencies. Try to build time into your schedule for the unexpected, such as traffic, weather, or maintenance stops. Planning your route ahead of time or checking weather online will ease your mind, and reduce stress. That extra little bit of prep time can be valuable.
Make the best use of your breaks. Try not to just sit in your truck when you’re on a break. Find a trail to walk and enjoy some fresh air. Use the time to get a workout in, or spend time doing good long stretches. Using your breaks to move your muscles will not only help your mind focus when you return to work, but also increase your energy levels.
As an owner-operator, your productivity and time management are paramount in running your business. These 7 tips will help you stay focused and manage your all-important workday.