It's great to be back on site and doing productive work again. But it feels like we are in lockdown limbo, with daily case numbers at record levels and vaccination rates not high enough yet to really make a difference, although the number of people that are getting seriously ill is thankfully lower than last year. No choice but to plug on doing the "right thing"...
Designing and building a house is a very complex task that can easily go horribly wrong. The only way to achieve consistently good outcomes when building or renovating houses, is to have a formula (procedures manual) that everyone involved understands and follows and to make consistently good decisions every day.
"It's our attitude at the beginning of a complex task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome." William James
Designing and building a house is much like any long-term complex task, like writing a book, or producing a movie. Each complex task must be well planned out and scheduled in advance. One of the documents that my previous Business Coach had me prepare 3 years ago was "A formula for doing a DDB Project".
Below is a summary of my eight-step formula.
- Map out the project, step by step, in correct order.
- Create a daily, weekly & monthly schedule for the critical path activities.
- Write everything down, keep an up-to-date list of questions/discussion items for the architect, client, and site foreman.
- Hold a site meeting every two weeks with the client, architect and the site foreman and circulate detailed meeting notes after each meeting.
- All variations (changes to the plans and finishes) must be put in writing. Keep up to date with all variations.
- Record and track all project cost each week.
- Maintain a physical and digital filing system for all project documents.
- Make sure a specific person is responsible for each step in the process.
"If architecture had nothing to do with art, it would be astonishingly easy to build a house, but the architect’s task - his most difficult task - is always that of selecting." Arne Jacobsen
The above formula is obviously specific to building or renovating a house. David Bader, a behavioural neuroscientist, wrote an article titled "Focusing on Hard Tasks” in Nature magazine, where he spelt out eight recommendations for successfully completing complex/difficult tasks as follows.
- Make space, allow adequate non-distracted time and space to plan the task (for me this is best done early in the morning).
- Develop a routine + stick to it, my aim each day is to take one step forward on each project.
- Only tackle one complex task at a time, multi-tasking does not work when doing complex tasks.
- Break down large tasks, into smaller, easier, more manageable tasks. This is what makes super complex tasks doable.
- Regularly change your work environment, improve your focus by mixing up your workplace.
- Take regular breaks and allow plenty of downtime. For me, the best time to think through difficult problems is whilst walking the dog or swimming laps.
- Be prepared for setbacks, not everything will go to plan.
- Engage expert help when needed. You can't be an expert at everything, know your limitations.
"See - simple!"
Thanks for reading,
Stay safe and tackle the big task.