Do you ever feel like the minutes in the hour are ticking off too quickly or that the days leading up to your deadline are passing by rapidly, leaving you in the wake of haphazard work and rising tension levels? With the limited number of hours in a day and the multiple tasks we have to complete in our fast-paced lives, it’s only natural that you often find yourself tired and overwhelmed by the number of accumulated leftovers of your week.
It is rightly said that time is money, the more we work, the more we earn. The art of time management is a crucial skill that can guide you on how to use your time effectively and efficiently.
While the real estate field is known to give its patrons liberty of working on their own time, agents are often known to be overwhelmed by how much time their work actually takes. Think about this: How many minutes & hours do you spend stressing over how you will finish dealings, file papers, meet potential buyers and keep your sellers happy within the stipulated number of hours in your week?
Before you get carried away by all your problems, it helps immensely to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, to gain a deeper understanding of why time management is important, and the benefits of adopting the methods of this craft. Here are some ideas on how to you can manage your time in a better fashion:
1. Make Lists
Writing down all the tasks you have set out for a week, either in a diary or on a digital notepad, helps create a mental image of the progression of your week. The aim is to gain some clarity on the number and nature of tasks to be done, so as to systematically organise them. Making a list allows you to sit down and plan out your week in an easy and efficient manner.
Organising tasks into lists makes everything much more doable and makes you feel prepared to take on the challenges of the week. By making lists, one can easily distinguish complete and incomplete tasks.
One type of list that is commonly used as a time management tool is Checklists. These help you cross out activities as soon as they are completed, to keep you updated on the progress you’ve made in your day or week. It also gives you mental satisfaction when you see a number of tasks ticked off you list and serves as motivation to continue working.
One of the most common mistakes people make while working on various tasks is not doing them on the basis of priority. People often go about their week completing tasks as and when they remember it is to be done. Or for people who make lists, they go about task completion in the succession they wrote it in. This often leads to a bulk of heavy load work being left to do at the end of the work week.
Before you make lists, review the tasks for the week. Make sure to consider the smallest of tasks, anything that is part of your routine, like picking up coffee or erasing junk mail.
Now divide these tasks on the basis of the Eisenhower Matrix, commonly known as the Urgent/Important Matrix. To do this, prioritize tasks by urgency & importance and divide them into four quadrants: Do First, Schedule, Delegate, Don’t Do.
(a) Do first: First focus on core tasks to be completed on the same day.
(b) Schedule: Important tasks that need to be completed on a later date need to be jotted down in a calendar.
(c) Delegate: This is for tasks you could delegate, things that are less important to you but still urgent. Don’t forget to keep track of the progress of delegated tasks!
(d) Don’t do: What’s neither important nor urgent, don’t do at all.
This method brings the famous saying to life, ‘Divide and Conquer”!
3. Time to Audit
For a week’s time, write down the activities you’re doing and how much time you take to do them. Audit your time and observe where your time is going, this will help you eliminate idle time and keep you on track.
4. Group and regroup
Depending on the nature of your tasks, group them into activities that are similar or go hand in hand. For example, if you have to file papers for various clients, set aside a specific date and time to only do that activity. Assign a time in your schedule to answer mails. This helps you to keep focus on the work you’re doing. Acting on various different tasks without grouping keeps your mind confused.
If you feel a certain task is more convenient to do with another, regroup. For example, some people prefer to check and answer mails when their travelling, to decrease work time.
Make groups based on your preferences.
5. Time Limits
Assign time limits for all your tasks, and work within the time frames. Don’t exceed the preassigned time frames, as this defies the purpose of setting them in the first place. If you notice a certain task continually spilling over into the next task time, then adjust these limits accordingly, but only do so after reviewing the nature of the activity. For example, if you check your mail daily for an hour, and notice that every time you receive new mails and thus keep delaying the end time, do not reassign a time limit. New emails will keep coming, you need to start adhering to your time limits, unless it is an emergency.
Also, set a time as to when you will end your day. It’s ok to extend this time on one off incidents, but on an average, try to maintain the same log out time. Spilling over into late work times blurs the lines between your personal and professional life.
6. Make it and Break it!
One of the most fun time management tips, one that you will enjoy adapting to, is to give yourself regular and timely breathers. Once you make it through a pre-decided number of tasks, take a break. Use this time to relax and unwind, don’t start planning out work or reverting to emails. Have a chat with some colleagues or go on a stroll somewhere nearby. Once you feel relaxed, come back to work reenergised!
P.S. Just make sure not to take too many breathers in a day, that’s procrastination not a break.
7. A system to the chaos.
Keep your workspace clutter free. Don’t work in shabby and unorganised surroundings. It often happens that you can’t find important papers or documents in the midst of all your haphazard paraphernalia. Not only this, it also decreases focus.
Decluttering can be done, not only in the physical sense of keeping your desk neat, digital decluttering is equally important. Don’t save unnecessary documents, clear your desktop, reorganise your mail and unsubscribe to irrelevant newsletters.
8. Multi-Tasking= NO.
There is no person who can do multiple tasks at the same time and maintain the same level of output as they would receive by doing the tasks separately.
Our brains aren’t wired to perform more than one tasks at the same time, so don’t try!
A well-known system followed by many corporate employees is the Pomodoro Method. This method helps you in committing yourself to a certain activity for a manageable amount of time- say 25 minutes. Research suggests that an average person can only remain focused on a certain task with a consistent level of output for a maximum of 45-50 minutes,
Don’t try to beat the clock, do one thing at a time. Work smart to work fast!
9. Shoot down the distracter!
In today’s day and age, most of us are social butterflies, dutifully webbed into the circles of social media. It’s hard to resist checking those popping notifications and the constant pinging of your phone.
For a Real Estate agent, it’s in your best interest to keep a separate device for your work-related calls and keep your personal device on silent. If you’re using the same device, don’t forget to turn off notifications for unnecessary applications on your phone.
Shoot down the distractor, do the work faster!
10. Be Realistic
When you’re dividing your time, don’t over or under estimate your capabilities. Don’t overburden yourself with many tasks. Set achievable and doable goals.
11. Don’t Stress Out!
If things are not going the way you planned, don’t waste your time stressing about it. Sit down, Breathe and Reflect. Check back to your lists and go over all your incomplete tasks. Evaluate why a certain task is taking longer than you had planned and backtrack to search for the problems in your methods.
Once this is down, make amends to your old strategies and go out and conquer the work!
Time management is a skill that is adapted over a period of time. It takes discipline of the mind to adapt such techniques into your daily life. While some of these ideas are minor changes, their effects are drastic. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it, you just need to have the will to do it. Don’t procrastinate, delays don’t get you anywhere. Manage your time, Manage your life!
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