Any half-decent property manager has a lot to do in today’s market — the huge shift into real estate investment and specifically into rental investments has left us with more portfolios to keep track of than we have since the Roaring Twenties. Add to that the fact that any one property can easily take up a day each week of your time if you let it, and it’s clear that a property manager has to be an effective time manager if they’re going to do their job with any efficacy.
Here are some key time management skills to have in your toolbox.
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3 Hacks to Help Property Managers Boost Productivity & Reclaim Lost Time
Step One: Assign Blocks of Time for Specific Tasks
A landlord’s life is one of constant emergencies — everything that is happening affects someone’s ability to comfortably live their life, and that makes it very important to them. But if you put every emergency on your priority list, you’ll never get off of your priority list.
- Start by blocking off the beginning of each day and a period toward the later part of each day to go through your communications. Check email, phone messages, texts, and so on only during those times, with a single pager or other one-way device for actual emergencies so your officers can get ahold of you.
- Then block off a long stretch of “zone time” — a period where you can work uninterrupted on a single important project long enough to get “in the zone.” The project will naturally vary every day — some days you’ll be crafting a new marketing campaign; other days you’ll be cruising past half of your properties and doing visual inspections while you record a brainstorming session about how to reduce utility costs. Whatever you do, be sure you can devote 100% to it.
The rest of your time you can assign however you like, but these two critical blocks will dramatically improve everything else about your schedule if you let them.
Step Two: Learn the To-Do Matrix
The “To-Do Matrix” is a simple mental construct that helps you decide how to deal with an incoming task. Imagine a large box divided into quarters. The top half of the box is the “Important” half; the bottom half is “Unimportant.” The left half of the box is the “Urgent” half; the right is the “Non-Urgent” half.
Now, in each of the four boxes, imagine one of these responses etched in stone:
- Important/Urgent: High Priority — Do as quickly as schedule allows.
- Important/Not-Urgent: Long-Term — Set aside time to do this in the future and stick to them.
- Unimportant/Urgent: Reject — Explain why this isn’t important and where else the person might be able to get their request filled.
- Unimportant/Not-Urgent: Avoid — These are distractions and “comfort” activities. Resist the temptation to waste time on them.
Each time you get a request from any source, spend a moment and figure out whether it’s important and whether it’s urgent — then check against the To-Do Matrix and determine what your best response will be.
Step Three: Delegate SMARTER
You have lots of people working for you (or available to contract, at the minimum). Any tasks that can be handed off to someone else, hand off. Just do so by giving them a task that is SMARTER:
- Specific: Each task must be a discrete entity with precise specifications and an endpoint.
- Measurable: Those specifications must form a rubric for evaluating their performance.
- Actionable: Each task must be something that can be done, rather than merely a goal.
- Realistic: Giving someone a task they aren’t able to accomplish helps no one.
- Timely: The task must be something that needs doing soon.
- Ethical: The task must be something a reasonable person would feel positive accomplishing.
- Recorded: The entire task, including goals and schedule, must be recorded — both the request and the proof of completion.
When you delegate SMARTER, you end up reducing your workload. When you delegate poorly, you only multiply it when your underling comes to you with confusion, problems, or failure.
Master the arts of blocking, dealing with to-dos, and delegation, and you can take your property management business to the next level — or at least, stay at your current level with a lot less stress.
Property Managers: What time management tools do you use in your day-to-day business activities?
Please share them below!