We've all heard and said it: "Yup, time sure does get by fast." A cogent observation indeed. Time is probably the single greatest gift and resource any of us have and yet how often to we loose track of it, and look around wondering where it went.
I propose that a better question to ask is, "How did I spend it?" Wouldn't it be great, at the beginning of every day, to always have a clear & firm idea of what you are going to accomplish that day? And, at the end of each one, to be able to look back and KNOW that you spent it well?
Time management is nothing more than event control. Control your events, and you've managed your time. I know -- stuff happens -- unexpected stuff. And that can and does disrupt the best-laid plans. But, you'd be surprised how much of that you can eliminate by simply habitually making, scheduling, and working a plan. So, in that vein, here are few thoughts:
First, I urge the diligent use of some type of scheduling tool, whether it be a PDA, a Daytimer, (or Franklin Planner, if you prefer) or even a simple pocket calendar like one of my best (and most technologically inhibited) friends who's been in real estate going on 30 years, still uses and keeps tucked in his hip pocket to this very day. It doesn't really matter, as long as you have and USE something.
Then, using that tool, build a Categorized Daily Schedule. Ideally this schedule will be built around your business plan. We all have one of those -- right? It will include categories like Income-Producing Activities (you know, prospecting, door knocking, listing appointments, contract writing and the like), Communications Activities (playing phone tag, answering emails, sending cards & letters to clients, prospects, suspects, etc.), Maintenance Activities ( updating files and other such paper work) and so forth and so on.
Next, there's another thing I think just about every REALTOR on the planet has, and that's a "To Do List." Some of us keep them in our PDA's or our computers. Others scribble them on scraps of paper and struggle to keep track of the paper. Still others just try to carry them around in our heads. And, if you're anything like me when I operate in that mode, the list just tends to get longer and longer, while relatively little of it gets done.
However you keep that list, here's what you must do with it in order to become an effective time manager: Simply put your To Do List . . . IN your newly-created and categorized Daily Schedule. That's right, take each one of those little "to do" items and place them firmly within an appropriate category and time slot IN your schedule. See, that pins the occurrence of that particular event to a specific time, and voila! It gets done.
Now that all segues nicely into the last point I want to make here this evening. That is: Become a Do-It-Now person! (If you haven't already, that is.) What I mean by that is, when it's time to do something -- whatever it is -- do it and do it right now!
Doing it right now is the opposite of procrastination. Procrastination steals energy -- emotional energy -- and thereby diminishes momentum. We all know what it's like to have those little (or big) half-done or undone chores nagging away at us, disrupting our peace of mind and just plain making us tired. I once heard a lady say that nagging is very much like being nibbled TO DEATH by a duck. And, I do believe she nailed it.
So, in closing, may I simply summarize with the following:
1. Time Management = Event Control
2. Develop a Daily schedule designed around your business plan.
3. Commit to your schedule!
4. Be Task Oriented - put each item on your “To Do” list IN your schedule.
5 .Schedule Breaks and Down Time.
6. Track how you spend your time – task by task.
7. Analyze how you spend your time.
8. Adust your schedule so that at least half of it is focused on income-producing activities.
9. Procrastination steals emotional energy.
10. Become a Do-It-Now person.