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CEO Journal: Battling Time-management Challenges

Chuck Hall is founder of Charles Hall Construction, a $26 million company in Clarendon Hills, Ill., which provides national at-risk design/build and general contracting services for the commercial, industrial and institutional markets.

Lately I’ve really been struggling with what I should be focusing on.There always seems to be so much for me to do and so many people pulling me in different directions. Keeping my family and work in balance has become a very difficult task. I’m torn between spending extra time with work to ensure the company’s continued strong, profitable growth trend and the joy I get from spending extra time with my family.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been rising at 4:30 a.m. so I can have some exercise time — and organizational time — at home. I’ve found that my desk, in the early hours of the day, is the best place for me to think and lay out my day. Also, these early hours are my most creative thinking times. One of the great points about doing this at home is being able to see the children off to school.

To keep staffing lean while we see what happens with the economy and Iraq, I’ve saddled myself with additional responsibilities, such as being the project manager for a project in Salem, Mass. Although I’m thoroughly enjoying the day-to-day aspects of overseeing our staff in Salem, it’s draining time away from my other duties — reporting, planning and sales.

Sales continue to go extremely well in our self-storage niche as well as with our assisted-living projects. Our 2003 plan is written, but only in draft form; I really need to finish this to present to some potential equity sources. I’ve always had our yearly plan completed by now, so it’s frustrating to be behind here.

Yet the bright side of my involvement at the project level is that I’m improving productivity. As a result of me "managing" a project and having so little time, I’ve been tweaking our existing financial reporting tools, creating a Web-based project reporting system and working with operations to teach my new findings. Our internal reporting is now more efficient and more accurate.

My brother’s wedding was on Friday. We arrived on Wednesday evening and festivities didn’t let up until Sunday morning. I had a difficult time not checking voice mail and e-mail. The kicker for me was that I forgot a Valentine’s Day card for my wife. After spending so much time getting ready to be out of town and preparing to be my brother’s best man, I forgot to make my best friend feel special.

Still, the reception was amazing. My son, the ring bearer, and my daughter, the flower girl, were in rare form. I was so proud of them.