Protecting your Time in Property Management

In his book Million Dollar Habits, Brian Tracy said ‘Developing the habit of starting on your most important task and staying with it, until it is 100 per cent complete, is a great time saver’.

We all know there is an ever increasing number of tasks that we need to achieve in Property Management. We also know that everyone has the same time allocation; every day (it is a non-negotiable resource), so it’s what you do with your time that counts … Use it or lose it!

Firstly, start with a plan – make a simple list of what you are going to achieve. Then, categorise your tasks – A, B and C – with A being the most ‘urgent’. Do this action each afternoon for the following day before you leave the office. An A task must be done on that day. It is a non-negotiable task that cannot be missed. A B task is something that will become an A task if not completed within the next 1-2 days, and a C task is something that you would like to get done but is neither urgent, nor important, when compared to other tasks.

Secondly, complete all the A tasks first, on the due date, then move onto the B’s – B’s are important work that should be done that day. The world will not come to an end if a B is missed but every effort should be made to do all the B’s on that day. Any C’s on the priority list should be questioned – are they necessary? Does this have to be done at all? Can this task be delegated or is this a project for the times that you might have completed your A’s and B’s or need a back-up task because you are temporarily locked out of your trust accounting system or email is down for a short period of time?

‘Chunking’ work means collecting together similar tasks to perform them in a group. It increases your speed of processing and therefore your productivity and ultimately efficiency.  It is another way of saying…‘stay with a task until it is complete in order to protect your time in Property Management. This is what Brian Tracy was referring to. If you’re working on maintenance, work on it until it is completed then move to the next task on your list. Every time you change tasks, you need new rules and tools to do the next task. It takes approximately one quarter of the allocated time to do the work to set up your rules and tools.  Therefore, you could easily waste 25% of your day, week and year by swapping from one thing to the next on a regular basis, and not ‘chunking’ work.

When I watch Property Managers work, it’s often the case I see them switch between a piece of paper, an email and then a phone call or a walk in enquiry – none of which are related I might add. Often an excuse of ‘customer service’ is used for these random actions. But these actions actually result in poor customer service because there is a lack of focus, and ultimately things get missed which creates problems for Landlords and Tenants. The real reason, I believe, is that few Property Managers have been taught how to plan and execute a good day’s work. Time Management should be taught in schools.

Superior Time Management requires a plan, then sound focus. It also takes mindfulness – being aware of what you are doing or not doing ‘in the moment’, whilst it is happening. A Property Manager with superior Time Management skills might wonder, ‘How am I travelling compared to my plan?’ In fact, this is a great question to ask at regular intervals throughout the day.

I don’t believe in ideal weeks – that is those that are so ‘tightly-wound’, they are impossible to achieve. I do believe in planning the ‘chunks’ on your list into manageable portions and sticking with them. ‘Block out’ time is also an essential part of Property Management.  Planned well across a Property Management business, you can achieve greater efficiency in your business with effective ‘block out’ time.

If you plan your list, prioritise it, focus on it and do it, you will soon start to see a pattern of success in protecting your time in Property Management.

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