Abraham Lincoln once said, "If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe." A well-honed tool gets the job done quickly. You need a well-honed, system-based plan for getting the work done. Without such a plan, time can get away from you until what should take minutes takes hours if not days.
Smart time management is key to implementing your property management plan. Managing your time well delivers a range of benefits, some of them obvious, some less so. It improves your overall efficiency; it provides valuable strategic advantages; and it makes space for logical, creative thinking.
This chapter provides tips and tricks for effective time management. You will learn to do more in less time, be an efficient planner, and capitalize on each person’s unique skills.
Learning to Be Proactive
You know the feeling. You’re sitting at your desk, and you look at the clock. "Three o’clock already?! Where does the time go?" Another day spent working hard, but the tasks are not all done.
In the midst of all the activities, you may find yourself falling into task-focused thinking. Your list of repairs and maintenance keeps growing, so you focus more and more on running around trying to get each thing done. Or, you get bogged down in either-or scenarios, saying, for example, "I have time to do only the repairs. The more time I spend doing the repairs, the less time I have for preventive maintenance. But the more I do repairs, the more I need to do preventive maintenance."
If the majority of your time is spent doing and not planning, your work life might have a chaotic feel to it. It doesn’t have to. If you feel as though you’re just moving from one crisis to another-don’t worry. You can change that by learning to deal with the tasks at hand in a systematic way. To have enough time on a regular basis to reflect, regroup, and plan, you need to be proactive rather than reactive.
Planning the use of your time is important because your time is valuable. Your skills should not be wasted on tasks done inefficiently or tasks that others could do. This is where planning comes in. Can you combine tasks to do them more efficiently? Can you delegate certain tasks to others? Can you devise a system to find staff or participants to help with some aspects of maintenance?
Using creative strategies to free yourself from the hands-on work will buy you time to spend on proactive work. With planning, you can identify, schedule, and perform preventive maintenance rather than being forced to react to the latest breakdown. Your focus can switch from doing specific tasks to keeping everything flowing smoothly, which is a better use of your specialized skills.
You will, of course, need to spend some extra time setting up the procedures, priorities, and work flow and discussing options with your team. As you will soon find out, however, planning time is time well spent.