Managing Your Time
Hours of Service regulations limit the number of hours an owner-operator can drive, so you need to make sure you optimize the time you have available. Time management is the process of taking control over the amount of time spent on specific activities in order to increase your productivity.
For owner-operators it’s important to remember that your fixed expenses — truck payment, truck insurance, etc. — don’t go away simply because you decide to take a week off. You need to manage your time so that your fixed expenses are always covered. It’s also important to factor in your personal time and allocate for family, fitness, health and hobbies. It’s a balancing act but by getting control of your business through time management, you get more quality time to spend on your off hours.
Time management for owner-operators is complicated by not only the hours you can legally drive but also by freight availability. Freight availability varies with the end of the month and the end of the quarter seeing the highest volume of available freight. That would be a bad time to schedule vacation days.
One good tool to help you manage your time on the road is a GPS system. GPS routing helps you get to your destinations without getting lost and eliminates inefficient routing. However, make sure to choose a GPS designed for trucking applications to avoid obstacles like low bridge heights so you won’ get stuck or have to make last minute reroutes.
If you don’t have a GPS, try mapping out your route before you leave keeping in mind things like fueling stops and parking availability. Planning for these saves you the hassle of trying to locate a spot to sleep or rest as you get near the end of your available Hours of Service.
Another good way to manage your time is to schedule maintenance during your off hours. This does two things. It means you don’t have to take the truck out of service when you still have available driving hours, but more importantly, preventive maintenance is reduces over-the-road breakdowns — saving money and valuable time.
Do a mid-week check-in of how many miles you’ve already driven and how many more you need to drive in order to have a profitable week. Manage your time for the balance of the week so that you can meet or exceed your profit goals.
The way you manage your time plays a key role in your operation’s success or failure.
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