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How to Clean Up on a Jobsite - 10 Lessons


I didn’t listen to everything my dad told me, but I did listen about how to get a job. I was to always have my tools with me on my truck so I could start immediately wherever I asked for work. Show up ready to go right then. So that's what I did.


I had just finished installing some shelves for a client when I saw a crew framing a house. I had worked under master carpenters before, helping with high end trim, cabinets and doors. Like magicians they always knew where the studs were. This was my chance to learn their sorcery.

I gathered my tool bags, circular saw and an extension cord and walked up to find the guy in charge. The guy running the job was named Earl, and he hired me for $5 an hour. He had a crew of four or five people.


The first lesson I learned with Earl stuck with me to this day. I remember every time I hire someone new. The work ended for the day so I rolled up my stuff and was walking toward my truck when this dude called out to me. “Hey, if you want a job tomorrow you’d better help us finish rolling up all these tools!” I guess I should have known better, but they were mad because they expected me to help them put away ALL the tools, not just mine. Duh. New people have a way of ditching out early.


The funny part to me, looking back on that, is the guy who called me out. I had been sizing people up all day long trying to figure out who fit where and this guy was to me, the very least intelligent person on the team. That’s the irony. If you are positioned right in your mind - the life lessons can come from anywhere - the lowest on the totem pole. You don’t have to be the smartest in bunch to know that you don’t ditch your team. To this day, I don’t ditch my team. Ever. And the ones who on my team long term stay till the very end.

Earl didn’t last long. He ended up adding some 700 square feet to the second story that wasn’t on the plans. What did I know, I didn’t exactly know how to read plans, but apparently neither did he. I’m not exactly sure how it all played out, but I did meet my next boss there - a guy named Curtis Miller. I knew right away that Curtis was a master and pledged myself to him accordingly. Before long I was his preferred cutter. Framing crews often consist of nailers and cutters. Nailers are the ones who are assembling the pieces, cutters cut the pieces to be assembled.


My first lesson in framing - how to clean up on a job site. Ironic. Because from the get, my intention was to clean up and extract everything thing I could from that situation I pledged myself to. I did it for a low wage, lower than anyone else would have done it for. But I was going to school and I stayed at that school until I had cleaned out all the information I could get. By the time I left, I knew how to build an entire house from the ground floor to hip and valley roofs. I was on my way.


Here are 10 lessons that will help you clean up on a job site.

  1. Know what job will get you the skills you desire and prepare yourself to get it..

  2. View the job as an opportunity and a launching pad.

  3. Don’t wait for someone to give you the job you need. Get it yourself.

  4. Find where the right doors are and move in that direction.

  5. Be ready to walk through the door when it opens

  6. Be the best low person on the totem pole that ever existed..

  7. Find who holds the information you want and serve that person.

  8. Move up in your job by being a valuable member of the team

  9. Out work, out master tasks and skills faster and better than anyone else.

  10. Don’t wait for a promotion. Do your homework and promote yourself

If you follow these lessons, you will find yourself quickly the one in charge, and if not in charge, equipped to launch to the next opportunity.



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