There are different types of workers in all industries. There are those who work fast and those that work slow. Some are ambitious and others are more content. You have the fastidious and then the lazy. You have those who are optimistic and energetic and those who are neither.
When it comes to success, the type of worker you are matters. It determines the type of success you’re capable of enjoying.
There are many ingredients that make up a successful worker or a successful business, but for the purpose of this article we’re looking at tradie-specific habits that play a part.
Before we get into the list though, let’s clarify something.
Sure, getting more done means more business which means more money. Yes, you can make more by ‘doing more’, but is it worth it if you’re racking up 80+ hours a week to get there?
That’s why you see the word ‘productive’ in the title. It’s about finding success and getting a lot done in a shorter amount of time. For most people, the best form of success is when they’re making good coin AND have an awesome life outside of work.
So, without further ado, here are eleven habits of productive and successful painters.
1) Start the day with a nutritious brekky and a BIG coffee.
Your body is your #1 tool, so give it the right fuel to get the most out of it. A decent caffeine hit will get you up and about pretty quick too, setting you up for the next habit. What painters say: “Making sure all tools and materials needed for the project/job were readily available on site on day one and every day until completed. Even the kettle for your coffee/tea.” “My morning coffee followed by my 2 cans of tuna and crackers for smoko keep me going!”
2) Get in early to setup and plan out your day.
Many ‘successful’ people are up before the rest of the world to take advantage of quiet, uninterrupted thinking and planning time. It feels like you’re getting a head start on everyone else and gives you a strong sense of control.
When it comes to planning, it can be really helpful to create to-do lists down to the smallest tasks. It prevents you feeling overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done and it’s damn satisfying ticking things off a list. You should also set goals that you measure throughout the days or weeks. But remember, while goals give you focus, they’re pointless if you don’t measure them. What painters say: “Start with the worst jobs first and knock them out the way to stay positive and productive.” “Planning is key, particularly scheduling time & making lists of action items. We use Trello, Google Calendar & other platforms to help with this. Having a plan to follow makes being efficient & productive so much easier!” “Buying in bulk to save going to the shop lots.”
3) Use quality tools and materials.
There are several things that determine the quality of your work / results, but your tools and materials are right up there. And not only do they ensure a higher quality output for your clients, but they also save you a tonne of time along the way, meaning greater productivity. What painters say: “Do it once, do it right. There is no substitute for skill but having right tool for the job simplifies getting the desired results.” “The best tools save you time especially when it comes to sanding.” “Maximising productivity is as simple as spending money on the best tools for the job and when you have the best tools the perfect finish follows.”
4) Maintain a tidy and practical storage system that is easy to transport.
Given the link between productivity and success, every single way you can save time counts. An organised storage system for your workshop, trailer, van or ute is essential. Keeping your entire setup organised means you don’t waste time trying to find what you need, and it’s easy to transport so you’re not making unnecessary trips back and forth. It also, again, helps you feel in control, which is so valuable for your productivity. What painters say: “Having a clean workspace and ute allows me to grab tools I may need quickly.” “Today actually began yesterday, planning and sorting out the things to take. Nothing is missing when everything has its own place. Establishing a base at work and all the gear with it means a tidy operation, a real Professional Kit.”
5) Make less mess and clean as you go.
This one also relates to saving time. Have equipment or processes in place that minimise mess created as you work. For example, working with dust extraction cleans as you go and spares you valuable time tidying up at the end of the job. Guaranteed it’ll knock your clients’ socks off too! What painters say: “I use the Festool Rotex RO sanders to prepare surfaces for painting - they not only take old coatings off more efficiently than any other sander on the market but also collect all the dust inside their attached vacuum system. The sanding is better, the discs last longer and I don’t breathe the harmful dust.” “As a painter, I consider sanding the most important part of the process of preparation. After many months of hearing about how efficient & dustless the Festool System is from other professionals, I bit the bullet & purchased an extraction unit & the RO90 & the RO150. Will be adding another to our team! “ “Festool tools allow us to not only get our job done neater but minimises clean up for both us and the client.”
6) Ensure there’s always a good playlist pumping.
It sounds simple but music is scientifically proven to boost your mood. Listening to your favourite genres or artists can energise you, and that’s energy you can channel into your work for greater and more efficient results. What painters say: “We listen to music all the time.” “I give each job it’s individual song.”
7) Don’t rush. An extra minute now could save an hour later.
Being productive doesn’t mean working so fast that you compromise quality, accuracy or care. You’ve heard the old adage, ‘Measure twice, cut once?’ Rushing causes mistakes, and mistakes mean extra work or worse, down time and a loss of money. Of course, good planning and quality tools will help you here too. What painters say: “Entrepreneur Steve Olenski recommends implementing the ‘two-minute rule’ to make the most of small windows of time that you have at work. The idea is this: If you see a task or action that you know can be done in two minutes or less, do it immediately.” “I don’t assume anything. I always check jobs are completely ready before I start. Communication with the builder and other trades is essential in order for the job to run smoothly.” “Preparation the night before for the next working day, making sure everything is onsite to minimise lost hours for the working day, make sure everyone knows where the jobs wants to be at the end of the day.”
8) Minimise interruptions.
Meetings, phone calls and unplanned visits will always happen. However, if you plan properly and are able to say ‘no’ to low priority requests, you’ll find you can free up a bunch of time. Interruptions are bad for productivity because there’s a greater cost to chopping and changing what you’re doing. For example, you might choose to take a call where you end up chatting for 10 mins, but when you go to resume your earlier task, you’ll find it’ll take extra time to get back into gear. All up you might ‘lose’ 20 mins of productive work. What painters say: “Only reading emails after noon and organising all my meetings between 8am and 11:30am, after lunch is my time to catch up on correspondence from work colleagues and plan for the following day!” “Writing down quick notes will help you keep productive especially with a diary.” “I do all my quoting after hours as to not interupt my work day.”
9) Encourage your team / apprentices and keep it positive to ensure productive motivation.
You get the best results when you and your team want to get the best results. When this desire is born from positivity instead negativity, it will be more rewarding for all involved and much more sustainable long-term (ie greater worker retention). What painters say: “Happy staff = efficient staff! Works all the time!“ “As an employer, efficiency and productivity are key, l set my employees up with work they are the best at while also taking in mind of teaching them new skills to be more dynamic.” “You are only as strong as your weakest link! So train the apprentice and the labourer in a way that they understand every part of the job. Then they know what the processes are.”
10) Work to the highest standard you can and hold yourself accountable.
Many elements of success come from pursuing the highest standards; things like client satisfaction, reputation among your peers, repeat business, and a sense of pride in what you achieve. But choosing to seek the highest standard and delivering it time and time again can only be done by one person… you. What painters say: “Turning up to work each day and loving what you do is the simplest way to maximize productivity. When you enjoy work it’s s not a chore and it makes it easier to keep a positive motivated headspace to get things done.” “We have this little saying. Good better best, never let it rest, until your good is better and with Festool it’ll be your best.” “Start early, have one break, plan your day and have a competition against yourself and try and better it the next day.”
11) Go the extra mile for your client.
It’s the little things that can go a long way. What do you do to make your client smile when handing over the job? It’s a good question to ask your dear colleagues and - if applicable - add the answers to your own repertoire. What painters say: “Offer a second to none service so client satisfaction is guaranteed.” “Clients absolutely love the dust free work environment we create.” “Always make sure the work site is spotless the day you leave, this way we walk straight in, grab the Festool sanders and keep on going with the preparation, owners of the properties love the clean way we work.”
That’s it! Hopefully you can take something from this list that helps you become as successful as you aspire to become. Here at Festool we take great pride in supporting thousands of customers with high performance systems that genuinely help them find increasing success.
‘Til next time
PS If you are keen to keep going check out what else we've got for professional painters.