Obligatory Friday the 13th story
On Friday the 13th, you can expect anything to happen. Our little disaster was having a flock of painters descend on us unexpectedly at 9:30 in the morning!
We were in the midst of unpacking boxes and arranging furniture when three smiling men in white overalls knocked on the door and announced they were here to touch up the wall and ceiling repairs left by the drywall crew. Gretchen was not amused. This was the second time that workmen dropped in without notice after Gretchen had asked for an arrival schedule.
She had been asking our contact at Southern Homes when the painters were going to arrive and had been told repeatedly that they would let her know before they showed up. As a result, she had proceeded to arrange pictures and furniture in almost every room in the house.
The arrival of the painters meant that we had to immediately undo everything she had done because touch painting was required on both walls and ceilings in every room. For more than two hours we scrambled around moving fragile items and valuable objects off tables and bookcases so the painters could throw drop cloths on everything in sight.
In some cases, the painters sanded areas on the ceiling before they put down drop cloths. The ensuing shower of plaster dust was then covered up by a drop cloth and wasn’t discovered until much later.
The painters were pleasant and efficient and said they were not informed that anyone was in the house yet. This was a gross example of miscommunication because we were in daily contact with the people at Southern Heritage Homes almost every day.
The painters were skilled in their work but I quickly realized that they were missing some of the areas on the ceiling because the earlier repair work did not stand out in ordinary room light. I used my halogen construction lights to illuminate the ceilings and this uncovered all of the ceiling repairs that needed painting.
I followed them from room to room, lighting the areas that needed painting. This almost doubled the amount of touch up work, but it made the entire job go faster because we could all could be certain that everything was caught the first time.
The painters took their leave of us after three busy hours and we were finally able to get back to our regular plans.
Careful planning does not prevent confusion – it prevents insanity
In any major project, there are unplanned events caused by outside factors. The unannounced arrival of painters is a typical example. Bad weather and non-arrival of contractors is another. These events will throw a carefully planned day into confusion, but they will not derail the project for long if daily project plans are used and followed.
We have found that a project board helps up keep track of longer term objectives in this house building effort, but a daily list of targets is required to keep our heads above water during the constant hurly-burly of life at a construction site.
We had just finished making up the day’s list of activities when the painters arrived unannounced. Everything we had planned was put on hold until the painting session was done and the painters had left. When the dust cleared, we picked up our daily list and carried on as planned. We had lost three hours due to the interruption, but we were able to get back on course without a lot of hand wringing because we still had a list of targets to meet.
Effective project management is the science of anticipating and handling interruptions as well as planned activities. This applies to the householder doing weekend chores as well as someone who is immersed in a larger project.
Any means you can employ to keep track of your daily goals will help you recover from unexpected distractions. It will go a long way toward helping you maintain your composure while you meet your targets. When you lose track of where you are, it is easy to get frustrated and lash out at others. Having a plan and a recovery plan makes it easier to tolerate the uncertainties of life and deal with them effectively.