CHICAGO — Why is preventive maintenance such a difficult task? Do you lack the time or money to perform the necessary tasks? Are you short on labor, knowledge or motivation?When it comes to staying ahead in the preventive-maintenance game, the key is preparation. Have a game plan. This requires creating a separate calendar specifically for preventive-maintenance schedules and appointments. Being prepared also means having some basic parts and miscellaneous hardware on hand. To lessen any apprehension about tackling such tasks, you may want to enlist the aid of a reputable service company, friend, relative, etc. to help you complete certain tasks.Put everything in writing, from the equipment you’re working on to the parts you’ve ordered and purchased in order to stay organized on a monthly basis. If any questions pop up, consult your calendar. Decide if a daily, weekly or monthly calendar suits your needs. I prefer a monthly, at-a-glance calendar.GET TO WORKWinter is right around the corner. Is the makeup air behind your dryers too much for this time of year? If so, you may want to adjust the louvers on your incoming air supply or possibly add a motorized damper system to properly control the makeup air. No matter what the solution may be, DO NOT, under any circumstances, completely restrict or cut off the air.This is also a good time to make sure each dryer has sufficient airflow by removing the front panels and cleaning out the excess lint and debris from the burner boxes, out of the electrical control panels and from around the drum. Don’t forget to thoroughly clean the lower lint compartment. Giving your dryers adequate airflow will help ensure they aren’t being overworked. This will also lower fire risk.(In the next column, I’ll help fill out your maintenance calendar with some other seasonal tasks.)One way to lower your anxiety level about your work schedule is to realize that you don’t need to do all your work on one day or even one month. Take a close look at the equipment you have, and the work that needs to be performed on it during the next year.Start with the season you’re in and prioritize which equipment requires what type of maintenance. Take the total number of pieces of that particular equipment and divide it by the number of weeks or months you’re willing to spend completing the maintenance on those units. Record this in your calendar, and get ready to go.Once you get going, you will establish a certain flow. Before you know it, your equipment will be in tip-top shape, shaving money off your utility bills and increasing customer satisfaction.If you have any maintenance questions, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.