Fuel for Thought
Truckers have to take breaks. Sometimes it is just a thirty minute break, others are much longer. While some will use the 8/2 split sleeper berth to get their 10 hour breaks, most generally take 10 hour breaks all at once each day. Then there are the 34 hour restart breaks after a long week.
How do you fill your downtime? A person can only sleep so much during these long breaks. Some will find activities to fill some time. Walking, watching movies, etc. can fill some time, but is it productive? Some say yes, as they need their “unwind” time, and that’s great if it works for for you, however, I tend to find as many ways to stay productive during my downtime as I can.
Being an owner operator, there are always new things to learn, new proposed regulations to keep apprised of, general maintenance or cleaning of the truck, paperwork to do or updates to software or permits. There is also bookkeeping to do, bills to pay and funds to track. We all need a little downtime, but making sure business is done first is crucial. There's nothing worse than getting behind and then trying to catch up.
Although ubiquitous, spreadsheets can be an owner operator's best tool for tracking everything from fuel purchases, general expenses on the road, fuel mileage, revenue or just about anything that needs to be organized, sorted or studied. The variety of functions available on spreadsheets can drill down the smallest or largest amount of data entered to look at specific areas of your business to see where improvements can be made to possibly increase your bottom line. If you are not a spreadsheet user, there are many options to get started. Google sheets has a good format, it automatically saves to your Google Drive cloud account and is accessible from any connected phone, tablet or laptop. Apache Open Office is another good suite of office products. Apache Open Office is free and works quite well, I have used it for years. Anything done in Open Office can be uploaded to Google Drive to make it more portable as well.
Once set up properly, spreadsheets can help save you time and money.
A good vehicle maintenance spreadsheet can help you easily keep track of past maintenance as well as be a quick reference for upcoming maintenance. It also creates a great record for buyers should you decide to sell your truck.
A blank spreadsheet can be intimidating for someone who has never used one, but with a little practice (and the help menu), you can have a wealth of information at your fingertips.
Enjoy your downtime, I know I will if I can find any.
See you down the road,