Getting things done in the construction industry

Posted on 31 July, 2019

Increased complexity in the workplace requires specialisation when it comes to successfully completing multiple projects within the strict confines of deadlines and budgets. Gareth Robb, Contracts Manager at GVK-Siya Zama, says that in light of this, it is vital to find effective ways to get things done as well as manage stress levels in a fast-paced working environment.

Robb, who was recently sponsored by GVK-Siya Zama to attend the Getting Things Done (GTD) summit in Amsterdam, says that “the quantity and speed at which we receive new information is overwhelming, and this perpetual cognitive fight and flight mode that we live in is causing our cortisol levels to remain constantly elevated which could result in health issues and relationship breakdowns.

The GTD methodology, from the book by the same title published by David Allen in 2001, inspires a workflow ecosystem of capturing, clarifying, organising, reflecting and engaging; and is based on the horizons of mapping out one’s vision, purpose, goals, focus areas, projects and actions in order to live and work in a sustainable manner.

Robb shares key learnings from the summit that can ease work life and lead to increased productivity and creativity:

Weekly review
Performing a weekly review is a keystone habit ingrained into the GTD methodology which enables one to remain in a state of perspective and control and thus, indirectly, cognitively free of stress. During this practice of review, you take time to look back at your week, assess all the open loops and undone actions and look forward to the next week’s work in order to re-outline all pending commitments in a realistic time frame. “Weekly reviews can be difficult to do, as it requires you to make the time to disengage from working on your projects to look at things from a higher altitude, however this is vital when it comes to time management and efficiency.”

Managing distraction and task batching
Robb learnt that distraction caused by technology and devices, combined with our inability to multi-task, has a massive effect on our IQ. “We need to unplug and focus if we are going to do meaningful, productive knowledge work. This state of constant partial attention is killing our productivity.”

GTD Summit speaker Dr Compernolles advises that we should “Batch Task”, i.e. set aside fixed time in the day to answer emails and batch task the processing in this time only, the same principle applies to any other tasks that form part of our responsibilities.

There are no problems only projects
Sometimes just reframing something in a different way can remove the inertia to act and resolve a difficult technical issue, he points out. “Changing the language used in teams can unlock massive potential energy to complete jobs that would traditionally have to be grinded out using old carrot and stick approaches.”

Strategic value of space
Alhtough GTD has grown into a global productivity movement of more than 2 million followers, it’s important to note that it’s not all about efficiency. It is about setting personal and team limits, defining the rules of engagement and working and living in a sustainable manner. According to GTD founder David Allen, creativity, innovation, strategic thinking and simply being present don’t require time, they require space.

Robb values the opportunity he was given to attend the summit, and believes that it adds a great dimension to his work as a construction professional: “as a cognitive toolkit, GTD is a superpower for the knowledge worker.”

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