For me, prioritizing how I spend my time is one of my biggest challenges. Because there are only so many hours in a day, if I don’t use a practical time management strategy to organize my efforts, I’ll run at a hundred miles an hour and still fall behind.
I’m sure you can relate to this example. I grab a cup of coffee and switch on my computer, intending to answer emails and take care of other administrative tasks. I’ve set aside an hour to get all this done. Then my cell phone rings. It’s a client, and they need to know the status of a pending transaction. I answer the call. It takes five minutes to resolve the issue.
I dive back into my work, and then I hear a gentle tap on my door. One of my staff needs something. I stop to address that concern. Ten minutes later, I’m back on task. Then I get a text from my accountant – she needs me to call her immediately.
It goes on like this for an hour and a half. Now I have to drive a few miles away to show a home. I’ve gotten less than half my email and admin work done. That means I’ll be doing those tasks this evening – time I should be spending with my family.
Every task I described above was essential and needed to be handled. Time management does not mean being rude and abrupt with people or ignoring lesser issues completely. But to keep our sanity, we have to solve this conundrum – if we don’t manage our time, it will manage us.
Here’s an easy but powerful time management system you can use to ensure that everything gets done in an organized and efficient way.
Create A Task List With Priorities
Some people do this monthly, others weekly, and a few do it every day. The idea is to write down what you need to get done in a specific period and then prioritize those tasks. Using my example above, my accountant did not need me to call her immediately. The information she required could easily have waited a day or two.
Remember, other people don’t necessarily share your priorities. While we want to be conscious and respectful of others’ needs and concerns, if you fail to prioritize your task list by what you need to accomplish, you will not be in a position to help someone else.
Your task list is your time Bible for the day. Once you get through what needs to be done, then you can move on to other concerns. Be sure that your task list reflects the urgency and importance of the task and that you have a good idea of how long it will take to take care of each item.
Organize Your Workflow
Let’s say that you have five tasks that need to be done today. All of them are a priority, so you need to allocate time to accomplish each one.
When you look at your list, tasks two and three must be done before addressing task number one. For example, sticking with our accountant scenario, paying a contractor for a renovation, and getting the final numbers on an investment property buy must happen before you can call your accountant. Also, task four can only be done in person at a location half an hour away from your office.
Now you need to reorganize your task list based on the sequence required to get things done most efficiently. How many times have you called your lawyer, accountant, or other advisor and said, “Oh, sorry. I forgot to run that down. I’ll call you right back.” When you call your advisor back, he’s busy helping someone else.
It only takes a moment to think things through. Efficiently sequencing your tasks is a crucial part of your time management system.
Okay, you’ve got your tasks all mapped out and organized your workflow for the day. You’re all set, right? Wrong.
Let’s go back to my example. You’re working away getting everything done, and a client calls you about a pending deal. You weren’t expecting this call until tomorrow, but there’s money on the table, so it has to be addressed right now – this has now become a priority task.
You deal with the client. Then you pull out your task list for the day. Add this task to it and check it as completed. Also, note that it was unexpected.
Consider building flex time into your schedule. Using our example, allocate an hour and fifteen minutes for your email and admin tasks. The extra fifteen minutes is to account for the inevitable interruption. If you finish quicker than an hour and fifteen, so much the better.
Avoid Procrastinating And Lose The Distractions
Do you have something you just hate doing but know that it has to get done? The accountant example is a good one to use here. Not many of us like dealing with accountants – the result of meeting with them is often that we have to spend more money than we expected or deal with problems we thought were resolved. So what’s the natural human tendency to do with our accountant meeting? Avoid it for as long as we can.
This is a tough one, right? Unpleasant tasks are the ones we invent ways to ignore. The problem with that is by putting off unpleasant tasks, we only make things worse. Use time management to schedule and prioritize all you do, especially the undesirable stuff.
It’s so easy to allow yourself to get distracted. Our minds can drift without any outside influence. We often give in to the impulse to call a friend or family member to talk about nothing because it’s so enjoyable or click on that website we like and read an article or two.
Distractions are a time killer! The benefit of avoiding them is that when we are done with our day, we’re done. Then we can indulge ourselves and check out the latest on our favorite app.
If you complete all the tasks on your list for the day or week and avoid getting trapped in distractions, reward yourself. This could be as simple as grabbing a specialty tea at the end of the day, or giving yourself permission to play nine holes of golf late on a Friday afternoon.
Make this reward system natural, not contrived. You know what you like, use it. You’d be surprised how effective this is at changing your behavior.
At Sterling Property Solutions, we have a team in place that can answer all your property management questions and address any challenges. So please give me a ring at 914-355-3277 or send me an email at Linda@Sterlingpsi.com. Together, let’s form a plan for you to take full advantage of the current conditions and put in place a robust, long-term program for your success.