New financial year, new you. If you’re a property manager looking for ways to boost your productivity and bottom line this financial year, we’ve got you covered.
Let’s begin with a hard truth: Just say no is unhelpful advice. Chances are, you’ve already heard of its managerial equivalent, also known as ‘Just don’t check your emails,’ or ‘Just don’t answer your phone,’ and the borderline-laughable ‘just say no to meetings’.
If your job is to manage properties, it’s likely your employer depends on you to answer calls, show up to appointments, and stay on top of your email. That means that task-switching and absorbing interruptions comes with the territory.
With this in mind, we’ve rounded up the best hacks to help you be more productive than ever—without switching off your phone.
#1 Make the most of dual screens
The reason? Tasks usually require at least two open windows to complete. If you’re not already using two screens, it’s time to make the switch. A Dell study found that a second monitor can boost productivity by about 44 percent for text-based tasks (such as email), and by about 29 percent for numbers-based tasks.
This adds up to about 1-2 hours saved in an eight-hour day. Calculate that in employee costs, and that second monitor pays for itself in a week.
If you already have two monitors and they’re hooked up to a laptop, you can maximise your screen real estate a little further still. While most people tend not to use the smaller, lower laptop screen to work, it makes a good reference for more static task windows, like email, task manager apps (like Trello for example) and calendars.
You can also align two separate open windows side by side in the same screen, allowing you to mimic the effect of dual monitors—and potentially doubling your screen real estate. On a Windows computer, hit the Windows key + the left and right arrow keys.
#2 Minimise decision fatigue
Nobody has infinite brain power. Each time we decide to make a phone call, choose a supplier, or choose how to word an email, we pay a biological price for it in mental energy. As the day goes on, all those small decisions deplete our brain power. We’re more susceptible than ever to sending that email we’ll regret and raiding the biscuit jar.
But we’re also much less able to to exert focus and self-control. As it becomes harder to concentrate, so it takes longer to get anything done.
To power through your afternoons faster, make as many decisions in advance of the working day as you can. Decide, for example, what to wear for the whole week on a Sunday, and organise your wardrobe in that order. Prepare your meals and freeze them in advance so you don’t have to decide what to have for lunch. Wherever an opportunity exists to remove a decision from your day, take it.
You can find more decision fatigue hacks on Lisa Durante’s website here.
#3 Use more keyboard shortcuts
Imagine if you had to type into an on-screen keyboard by mouse clicking letters one at a time. In fact, according to Brainscape, the time difference between a mouse click and a keyboard stroke is about 2 seconds per minute of computer work, which adds up to about 64 hours per year.
Besides the time savings, learning a few more keyboard shortcuts can also conserve your mental energy, and spare you the irritation of undoing or redoing all the misfired clicks that landed on commands you didn’t want to use.
Here are a few shortcuts to get you started:
#4 Allocate time slots to prospects and landlords
Nobody should expect you to spend more time with them than you have allocated to a meeting. To reclaim time lost on meetings and phone calls that run over, book everyone into time slots, regardless of whether you have something on afterwards. Whatever you believe is a reasonable time—perhaps it’s 20 minutes for a prospect, give or take—lock in that time slot with a client and make sure they know about it. Remind them at the start of the appointment that you have to leave at that 20 minute mark, and it’s likely that the meeting will wrap up (in most cases) when you need it to.
It’s a similar story for phone calls. To stay on top of how much time they spend on the phone, some agents use the 5/5 calling rule. This translates to waiting for five rings when calling someone before hanging up, and spending no more than five minutes on most calls.
Of course there will be calls that can’t be capped at five minutes. But if you can keep most of them under the limit, you should be able to schedule with confidence, and keep task interruption times down.
#5 Take charge of your social media
If you have a social media presence for work, you’ll know that it takes time and energy to manage. You’ll also know if you’re not careful, that it can quickly eat up your day.
Professional social media managers typically take control of this by batching related tasks. For a start, you’ll need to be able to schedule posts—easier on Facebook and Twitter than Instagram, where you’ll need a premium social media management platform to do it. Some popular platforms for scheduling across social media accounts include Sprout Social, Buffer, Tailwind, and Hootsuite.
Create and curate all the content you would like to post in the next fortnight, and then schedule it in advance (preferably in one of these platforms). You can line up posts further ahead than this if you’d like, but go too far, and you may find you’re looking out of date. Sharing news content that is weeks old by the time it is published is not how you stay relevant.
To really get the most out of this process, set posts to publish in a window of time when most of your followers are online (here’s how to find this info on your Facebook Business page). Generally, this will be later in the day, between 5-9pm. It’s better to post towards the start of your peak window than too late.
Similarly, batch your time for responding to comments and messages. Open your accounts at the start of the day and the end of the day, and respond to everyone who requires it.
Then close that window, and move on to something else.
What are your productivity hacks?
If you’ve got a top productivity idea that has worked for you, or that you would like to try this financial year, let us know in the comments.