5 Tips for Successful Independent Solo Surveyor Workload Strategies

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In today’s Premium Member post I’d like to discuss effective strategies for effectively mastering your workload. Three years ago this month I transformed my professional land surveyor practice from your typical land surveying company with multiple crews and back-office personnel to that of being a solo surveyor.

Here’s what I’ve learned regarding workload strategies.

There are many challenges to operating as a solo land surveyor, including implementing and using technologies supportive of operating on a solo basis. However, technology has actually been the easiest piece to the solo surveyor success puzzle to solve. On the other hand, effectively handling your workload, I’ve found, is the most challenging aspect of being a solo surveyor.

The bottom line is this: As a solo land surveyor, you don’t have anyone else to lean on when the going gets tough and you get overloaded with projects that pulling you in different directions. Even in slow times, like it’s been for the past three plus years, it doesn’t take (as) much to make a solo surveyor busy compared to a professional land surveyor practice with multiple field crews and extra office staff.

You can only be in one place at a time!

When, on any given day, you need to go research one project, while you also need to setup another survey, while you need to finish CAD drafting the last survey, and that construction company you’ve started working for calls for layout for that very same day, you will experience a lot of stress and be guaranteed to only make one client happy, because you can only be in one place at a time!

Speaking of “happy”, or the lack thereof, an unbalanced workload is also guaranteed to make you one heck of an unhappy land surveyor. So, what’s a solo surveyor to do?

Here are 5 tips to help you be successful at balancing your workload as an independent solo surveyor:

  1. Implement a Master Task List and master your To Do List. You need to be organized, understanding all of the tasks you’re responsible for. Overlooked or forgotten tasks will only add to your workload when you’re scrambling to play catch-up.
  2. Plan and do. With all of your tasks organized into a Master Task List, you can now take time to plan an effective schedule. Then, do what’s on your schedule. Sounds simple, but many people (myself included) get easily distracted and their schedule goes off course.
  3. Know, understand, and use all of the features and techniques available to you with your advanced land surveying equipment like robotics, laser scanning, and GPS. Use your technology investments that make possible operating your professional land surveyor practice as a solo surveyor to their maximum potential. This allows you to leverage those technologies for maximum productivity.
  4. Use and implement techniques for completing tasks and getting projects done in non-lineal (timeline-wise) bite sized manageable portions. For example, you can setup CAD standards for sheet layouts to draw some, if not most, of your final survey plan and notes before you are done with the survey. This can be a very productive use of available short periods of free time, keeping you ahead of schedule. This way, you’re not scrambling at the last minute to finish a project.
  5. Know when to seek help. The fact of the matter is that at certain times it’s beneficial to ask for some help to balance your workload. While organization, hard work and being uber-productive is often all that you’ll need to keep a balanced workload, until you figure out a way to clone yourself, doing two things at once isn’t possible. So, having available short term or part-time help, used judiciously, can really help when needed.

The above 5 Tips for Successful  Independent Solo Surveyor Workload Strategies will each be expanded upon in future Premium Member posts, and I’ll update this post with links to those articles as they’re published.

I’d love to hear your experiences as an independent solo surveyor. Leave a comment or send me a message with what’s working, or not working, for you. If you’re looking to become an independent solo surveyor and need some guidance and advice, also feel free to contact me to see if I can help you.

Eric D. Colburn, PLS, "The Geo-Business Innovator", helps geo-professionals improve through innovative solutions, mastery of marketing and business growth strategies, and coaching/training. Eric is a successful, serial entrepreneur, podcaster, industry writer, product development consultant, and RI licensed professional land surveyor.

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