Despite the extensive outlining and scheduling that goes into any construction project, very little goes according to plan. Most to-do lists go right out the window which can send the rest of the day into disarray. The solution is often to begin an email string of questions or have an impromptu meeting to find a solution. These types of unexpected tasks can create roadblocks to maintaining an efficient organization, but there are ways to counter workplace habits and increase productivity through time management.

At CPM Construction, Indianapolis, Ind., a program called “Primetime” was implemented to help employees be more productive despite the distractions that every workplace faces. 

In most places, when a company executive asks for something, whatever is being done stops and focus is shifted to that request. In addition, many react to unanticipated to-do items as a “fire” that needs to be put out immediately. These types of habits often go unaddressed and perpetuate poor time management. To be proactive about turning the office into a productive environment, it’s important to set up rules to address these issues in a way that doesn’t unintentionally cause priority shifting or generate partially informed answers, both of which waste even more time in the end.   

Primetime is a timeframe set aside for uninterrupted work that all employees must mutually respect (8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 1 - 4 p.m.) It represents the time that a normal 40 hours of work would occupy, without the above-mentioned habits occurring.  

Rules of Primetime:
  • Everyone in the company, regardless of position or rank, is expected to respect others’ Primetime.
  • You must ask if you can interrupt another’s Primetime, and declining the interruption is never viewed as disrespectful.  
  • Any “fire” must have a firm due date and time for an answer, not “I needed it yesterday” or “as soon as possible.” If it can wait until after Primetime, it should.  
  • You must avoid the hallway “you got a minute?” conversations.
  • You cannot enter another’s office and just sit down expecting a conversation.
  • Mangers must set aside known open-door timeframes that occur during Primetime
As mangers being aware of the affects that your emails, phones calls and questions have is imperative to ensuring successful time management among your peers and employees.  Ask your employees, “What are you not going to be working on if you take on this task?” Empowering employees to protect their time and say “no” without feeling exposed or disrespectful helps teach them to ask for due dates and plan their days. They appreciate the mutual show of respect as well. 

In regards to meetings, a strong attempt to assign a time keeper and content manager for every meeting helps keep digression and time extensions to a minimum. Even if nobody is assigned, employees who aren’t engaged in the current conversation will sometimes speak up, reference this rule, and help keep meetings efficient.  At CPM, we also keep this chart on-hand to determine what should be addressed right away versus what can wait until a later time.

A book I recommend reading on this subject is “The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey” by Kenneth Blanchard.  

Below are some miscellaneous statistics to help determine when to set up your company’s Primetime and meetings.  

Where Employees say they waste most of their time:
  • 24% - Too many meetings/conference calls/dealing with coworkers
  • 12% - Returning Emails
  • 7% - Dealing with their boss
  • 44% - Fridays 
  • 18% - Mondays
  • 22% - Between 3 - 5 p.m.
In addition:
  • The most productive time of day is between 9 - 11 a.m.  
  • Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics - Unnecessary meetings cost U.S. businesses approximately $37 billion each year.  
Jake Williams is vice president of CPM Construction based out of Indianapolis, Ind., and can be reached at