Time Management Tips – Making the best of time on the road and at home

Next to money, time is a precious commodity for every owner-operator; like money, there never seems to be enough of it. Unforeseen circumstances can derail the best-laid plans in the blink of an eye. Thinking on the fly is nearly a requirement to excel in the life of a truck driver.

However, time management is necessary for those who wish to be successful, and one must be fairly meticulous in that pursuit. Getting organized isn’t easy, and a little advice is always helpful. The following tips for time management may help an owner/operator find more efficient ways to manage time both on the road and at home.

Create a Checklist

Most drivers have a ritual when beginning a haul that they follow to the letter. Going over the rig to make sure everything is in working order is the smart thing to do. Compiling a checklist of the procedure and items that might be needed will make the process much quicker. Not only will safety issues and needed repairs be caught before leaving, but also any missing tools or other possible needed items won’t be left behind. This is especially helpful when a last-minute trip is scheduled. Having a visual note of everything minimizes the stress that can entail. This might include:

  • Toiletries.
  • Extra clothes.
  • Healthy snacks.
  • Bottled water.

Use GPS and Plan Ahead

A GPS system is a trucker’s best friend regarding time management and planning trips. The goal is to get to the destination in the shortest amount of time with no hiccups, no tickets, accidents, or detours, if possible, making it an extremely beneficial tool for truckers. Most of these devices will allow truckers to make stop points along their route, marking rest stops and truck stops. Plan around your trips before you leave on the road for better time management, especially when you know you will be back on the road after dropping off your delivery. Before you leave, check DOT and/or highway patrol websites to get up-to-date information on any road construction or accidents that may cause delays so you are prepared for detours.

Avoid exhaustion and rest

Driving to the point of exhaustion will only create more delays in the long run. Driving when you are tired or not feeling your best can cause you to fluctuate your speeds and lose the time management that you had already planned out. When settling down to sleep, it is best to read or listen to music, eat well, and rest so that your mind can relax. Avoid caffeinated drinks and foods high in sugar that will make you restless. Exhaustion can trigger a domino effect, restlessness, and oversleeping. It also causes a driver not to feel rested and continue to be sleeping when they start driving again. The most successful drivers learn early on not to overextend themselves and plan ahead when to rest.

Separate Work and Home Life

It is one thing to be ambitious but quite another to be a workaholic. Time at home with family and friends is integral for success in the trucking field. While trucking might be a passion for an owner/operator, it should not consume them. This is a surefire way to burn out. Enjoy hobbies and recreational activities that will help you to decompress after long hours on the road. Spending quality time with family can help a driver appreciate the reasons they spend long hours on the road and appreciate the fruits of their labor.
Often, there are times when life at home becomes a struggle. It is human nature to worry about bills, health issues, friends, and loved ones. It is also human nature to take that worry with us to our jobs. However, when driving, it is important to try and keep your mind clear of any worry and frustration so that the road is the only focus. The old saying leave work at work and home at home is harder than it sounds, but while driving, it should be taken seriously.

These time management tips won’t solve all the organizational problems an owner/operator may face, but it does help in diminishing the effects of those problems. Being prepared creates a confident mental attitude for handling last-minute calls to make a delivery while remaining calm. Peace of mind while not on the road is also another benefit. Efficient time management goes a long way in helping to maintain a healthy balance of time at home and on the road.