by Frank Basile
Have you ever had days when you worked hard but seemed to accomplish nothing? If so, welcome to the human race! Unfortunately, we all have days like this. However, the high-earning leasing agents and other property management people are those who are effective at minimizing those days and effectively using their time. For most of us, unless we are part owners of the property or management company, our only investment is our time. How effectively we use our time will determine our income and career advancement.
Frederick Crawford, founder of TWI, Inc., put it well: “Time is the secret of wealth; time is the secret of all progress. You only have a few thousand days allocated to you, and the greatest waste of wealth in America today is the waste of time.”
Ben Franklin put it into total perspective: “Do you love life? Then do not squander time; for that’s the stuff that life is made of.”
The purpose of this article is to relate some timesaving techniques that I have found to be effective through the years. However, remember that these can only be effective if you have first defined your goals and priorities. It is impossible to organize time unless you know what you are organizing to accomplish. Hard work is worthless without purpose and direction.
- Commit your goals and timetables to writing.
- Plan or schedule each day’s activities. In effect, this is your “to do” list.
- These activities should support your goals. If not, change the activities or change the goals.
- Prioritize these activities in the order of their importance in accomplishing your goals.
- Do each activity in the order of its importance.
- Do one thing at a time. This is the only way you can focus your attention on the task and do it effectively in a minimum amount of time.
- Discontinue activities not essential to accomplishing your goals to allow more time to do those activities on your list. Don’t mistake activity for accomplishment.
- Scrutinize the way you spend your days to avoid or minimize such time-wasters as telephone interruptions, drop-in visitors, ineffective delegation, personal disorganization, procrastination, idle conversation, and the inability to say no.
Eighty percent of all time management is this “to do” list. Everything else is elaboration, including such time-management techniques as effectively using prime time, reading mail only once, bringing reading material with you to occupy waiting time, and delegation. These techniques are important, but they are secondary to ensuring that your daily activities are goal directed. When this occurs, you will almost automatically use these effective techniques, most of which are common sense.
The simpler the time-management system, the better. You can become too sophisticated and too complex, and spend too much time planning and organizing and too little time implementing. I have seen property management people burdened with three-inch three-ring binders that they carry with them everywhere, under the guise of good time management. If this works, and if this is what you need, then do it. But for most people, and in most cases, this is overkill.
An effective time-management system can be built around the basic “to do” list that we have discussed, plus the following items:
- Individual sheets of paper or 3 x 5 cards to record each of your goals. These can be left at home or work. I carry the two or three cards containing goals I am working on currently. These are in a leather holder that I keep in my inside coat pocket.
- A calendar to schedule activities that cannot be performed now.
- A tablet or notebook where a listing can be made on individual pages for items to be covered with those significant persons in your personal and professional world, such as your boss, spouse, and key employees.
Regarding item #3, these lists enable you to cover all pertinent items with an individual when you are meeting with him or her, either personally or via telephone, in a minimum amount of time. It precludes ending the contact without having accomplished all of the items and then having to return to cover those missed during the initial contact, or leaving them completely uncovered.
Keeping such a list entails jotting down ideas that occur to you (while driving or showering on a freestanding bathtub, or at any other time) on the page with that person’s initials at the top. In this way, you don’t risk forgetting to cover those items. Nor do you have to concentrate on remembering them to the point of excluding other important things; you can keep your mind free to concentrate on whatever is happening to you at the moment.
Since most of a leasing agent’s work is accomplished with and through other people, this control enables you to maximize the use of your time when you meet, either formally or informally, with those persons.
It is impossible to over-emphasize the importance of spending your time wisely. In his classic book ( free ebook )How to Live on 24 Hours a Day, Arnold Bennett says, “The proverb that time is money understates the case. Time is the inexplicable raw material of everything. Without it nothing is possible. You have to live on 24 hours of daily time. Out of it you have to spin health, pleasure, money, contentment, respect, and the evolution of your immortal soul. Your success in life depends on it.”
Frank Basile, CPM was the President of Gene B. Glick Company, Inc., in Indianapolis, Indiana. Frank had responsibility for the management of Glick’s total portfolio of 21,000 apartments in 13 states, and is an accomplished author of both books and articles about property management.