The Power of Vacations

My dad keeps telling me that kids today don’t work very hard. By kids he means me — and I’m 57. It seems every time I turn around, though, I see an article that offers the opposite conclusion: Americans work too hard. They work longer hours and take less vacation time than their counterparts in other countries. By some accounts, the majority of American workers don’t even use all of the time off they are entitled to take. The sad part is, most workers do so because they want to be more productive. But working too long and too hard makes us less productive, not more. Vacation time is not only beneficial for personal health and well-being. Vacations also increase productivity.

Human bodies and brains have their limitations. We need some downtime to stay healthy and focused. It’s also during periods of rest and relaxation that some of the greatest discoveries have been made.

Whether it’s Newton resting by an apple tree or Watson and Crick taking a break by the seaside, it seems every scientific breakthrough I read about in high school came about when someone was goofing off. The notion of an epiphany — a flash of insight that solves a troubling problem — often seems to coincide with a break from work.

The “eureka” moment is said to derive its name from the story of the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes, who came up with a method of solving a tricky problem after he slid into a nice hot bath. The story goes that he was trying to figure out how to measure the volume of irregularly shaped objects. Stumped, he took a break at the local bath house, where he suddenly realized that he could make the determination by the amount of water an object displaced. He then ran through the streets screaming “eureka,” which apparently means either “I found it!” or “I forgot my clothes!”

As I worked on this issue of the magazine, which focuses on education projects, I thought of the long summer breaks we had as students, which I now know are frenzied periods of construction for the roofing industry. I also spent a week in northern Michigan, where I hiked some beautiful trails with my wife, Patti, and Josie the Wonder Dog.

I can’t claim that I had any great insights into the nature of physics or science — or even better ways to produce Roofing magazine — but I did manage to locate some dog-friendly craft breweries and take in some glorious views of lake Michigan. Here’s hoping it makes me more productive.

Learn to Delegate: Determine Which Tasks You Can Let Go and Concentrate on Your Zone of Genius

You have 168 hours each week to design your life. You use some of the hours for sleeping, some for exercising, some for eating, some for showering, some for work, and some for family—but when you run out of your 168 hours, you are out!

Time is the one commodity you can’t create more of. Once it is gone, it is gone. You can always make more money; you can’t make more time. Or can you?

You are limited in what you can accomplish each week by the mere fact you only have 168 hours. However, there is no limit to what can be accomplished each week if more people pitch in to help.

When you effectively delegate some tasks, it’s like adding 10, 20, 40, 80, 800 hours to your week. It’s almost as if you are creating more time each week.

When I work with clients, one of the first things they share with me is they just aren’t sure what they can delegate. They admit that delegating, in theory, makes sense. However, they aren’t sure how to apply it to their business.

There isn’t a “one size fits all” solution to the delegation challenge. However, there is a process you can follow to find a solution that works for you.

Use the Acronym A.W.E.

You can determine which tasks to delegate by following a three-step process represented by the acronym A.W.E.

  • A—Awareness. What are some of the tasks currently on your plate?
  • W–Work. How do you decide which tasks to delegate?
  • E–Evaluation. What worked and how do you do more of it?

Get ready to delegate! The following exercise will take about 20 minutes to complete–and the payoff is you’ll gain a minimum of three hours of you do it effectively. That’s pretty good ROI on 20 minutes, wouldn’t you agree?

Awareness: The exercise begins by defining what is important and determining what is on your plate.

Step #1: List your top 3 goals.

Step #2: What is your Zone of Genius? That is, list the things in your life and your business that only you can do. (Hint: If you are honest, this list should be pretty short.)

Step #3: Next, list all the things that you “don’t have time to do.” What are the tasks you put off because you don’t like doing them? What are the tasks you are waiting to start until the “timing is right”?

Step #4: Pull out to-do list out from the last week and your to-do list for next week.

Work: At the next stage, you can start to narrow down the tasks you can delegate.

Step #5: Look at your to-do list and your “I don’t have time to do this” list, and for each task, ask yourself, “What goal does this task support?” Write the corresponding goal next to the task. (Hint: Writing the goal down ensures you don’t just skip this part.)

Step #6: You are almost finished with the exercise now! Put a smiley face next to all the tasks that line up directly with your Zone of Genius.

Step #7: Circle the items that relate to a goal, but do not have a smiley face. These are the tasks in your business or life that can be delegated. They support a goal and they are not in your Zone of Genius. They don’t need to be done by you to be done effectively. (Bonus tip: If a task doesn’t directly support a goal, why are you doing it?)

Step #8: Delegate at least three of these tasks.

Evaluation: Determine how effectively each task you delegated was completed and how much time it saved you. Do more of what works! When you can do more of what works and less of what doesn’t, life becomes much easier. Yet many people forget to slow down long enough to think through what is working. Take 10 minutes to check back at the end of the week and ask yourself these questions: Who was a great delegating resource? What tasks were easy to let go of? What tasks do you want to outsource next? Where were the struggles? How can you fine-tune the process?

Congratulations! You have at least three tasks circled. Start delegating and start increasing the number of hours you have available each week to accomplish your goals.

Remember, this process is not a one-and-done kind of thing. To be effective, as your tasks and goals change, the evaluation process becomes more important. Regular process improvement means you are always on task for your Zone of Genius!

GAF Partners with Labor Sync to Offer Labor Management Solution

Continuing its efforts to help roofing contractors build their businesses, GAF announced an alliance with Labor Sync to offer industry executives a one-stop labor management solution. This technology helps business owners control costs and enhance profitability by managing their workforce more efficiently.

Labor Sync is a cloud-based labor management solution that allows roofing contractors to monitor the time and location of their workforce from their mobile device. Through a downloadable app, employees can clock-in and clock-out directly from their smartphones and the information is then delivered through customizable reports to the business owner. Benefits to contractors include streamlining payroll processes and facilitating real-time job costing. The platform also offers special features, including messaging, field notes and GPS location tracking.

GAF Master Elite and Certified Contractors throughout the U.S. and Canada enjoy a 20 percent discount on the Labor Sync management solution.

“Our contractors have been asking for a labor management solution,” says Jim Slauson, vice president certified program and services at GAF. “Labor Sync’s technology offers them the ability to run their businesses more efficiently and cost-effectively.”

Labor Sync Director of Sales Matthew Satalino states: “In addition to the tangible benefits we offer, roofing contractors utilizing Labor Sync will be able to quickly adapt to new market trends and outpace their competition by having concrete labor and project hour information. Labor Sync allows roofing contractors to bring their outside jobs inside and better manage their projects and work crews, which could ultimately result in higher profit margins.”