Please answer this question as honestly as you can:
Do you manage your time effectively?
Most people know how important managing their time effectively is but few actually go about it in the right way. I was certainly one of those people. I would regularly find myself in a situation with the day coming to an end and half my “to do” list still untouched.
Can you relate to this?
I stumbled through life like this for years. It was nothing short of a miracle that I achieved the success that I did. But there was a cost. I found that I was suffering from a lot of stress through this poor time management.
I was not getting important things done until the very last minute. Some things I never finished at all because I didn’t have the time. Even though I had people around me that could help I decided to do most things myself. I just bounced from one thing to the next worrying about all of the things that I hadn’t finished.
Enough was enough! I simply had to change this for my own sanity. I needed to find a form of time management that worked well for me. And this is an important point. There is plenty of advice out there about effective time management but the solutions offered may not suit you completely.
So with this in mind I will tell you what I did to improve the management of my time. I will provide you with an alternative way to do things where this is possible. It may be that by doing something slightly differently it will work for you.
My Effective Time Management System
1. Set Goals and review them regularly
You must set goals to be successful in property investment. If you haven’t done this yet then I recommend that you read my post on goal setting here. I am going to assume that you have some goals so I want to discuss reviewing them here.
In my early business days I set a lot of goals. Did I achieve them all? No I didn’t. But I still managed to be successful in the businesses that I was involved in. How is this possible? Well I set too many goals to begin with and there is a danger that you could do this as well.
I told you that I often ended up with actions on my “to do” list that I never finished. I looked back at these things and found that the reason I didn’t finish them was not just down to time management. It was because they were really not that important!
They were things that I thought would be nice to have. Maybe a redesign of the company website that was perfectly fine as it was. Or maybe a new company logo that was totally unnecessary.
I had set a “new image” goal for my business and there were many things that I needed to do to achieve this. But my lack of time and dedication stopped me from achieving this goal. So what I am asking you to do is to review your goals regularly and cut out those things that are not important. This will save you a ton of time.
2. Prioritise Tasks
This is a big one and it is something that a lot of people get wrong. You must prioritise all of the tasks on your daily “to do” list. If you are anything like me then you will have a mixture of small and large tasks on your list.
I prepare my task list for tomorrow the day before. I no longer beat myself up because there are things from today that I didn’t complete. I can do this because I know these things are low priority. They need to be done eventually but they are not urgent.
So I looked at the list and worked out which tasks would cause me the most pain if I didn’t tackle them urgently. These can be either small or large tasks – it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that they will stress you out if they keep appearing on your list every day.
An example of this could be paying a bill for something important that you rely on. I was never very good at paying bills on time but now I have changed my view on this. One of the most important contributors to my success is having a good team around me. You need a good team as well.
Some of the members of my team don’t work for my company. But the services they provide are essential to my success. Some examples are my solicitors, my trade people for conversions and uplifts, my letting agents etc. If I don’t pay their bills on time then not only are they going to nag me about it but they will be less likely to respond in the future as I want them to.
There may be other important tasks that you are overlooking. You promised a member of your staff a chat about their future. Don’t put this off! Sit down with them as soon as possible. You need to keep your people happy.
Some “experts” tell you to tackle the biggest tasks first. I do this most of the time but I have a different take on this. A friend of mine always tackles the smaller tasks on his list as it builds up momentum to tackle the larger task. This really works for him. So do what will work best for you.
3. Find your most Productive and Creative time
We all have different times of the day when we are at our most productive. There will also be a time of day when you are at your most creative. I am a morning person and I identified that I was the most creative at around 6am. My most productive period was just after this. So I protected this time for creativity and working on the most challenging tasks.
Not everyone is a morning person. A lot of these time management experts will tell you that you need to get up really early to get everything done. But I realise that this is not going to work for everybody.
I know people that are more creative and productive in the afternoon. They don’t like the mornings and never perform to their peak in the early hours. There are some people who do all of their great stuff in the evenings or even at night.
The important thing here is that you identify when your creative and productive times are. You may be more creative in the morning and more productive in the afternoon. It doesn’t matter. Just find out your best times and prioritise your tasks around these times.
4. Plan for each Day
Have you ever turned up at your business in the morning without a clear idea of what you need to achieve that day? I have certainly done this and it is a common problem that a lot of business owners experience.
If you don’t have your day planned out then it is very likely that the tide will sweep you away. You will find your day dominated by the problems that arise. With property investment problems can occur at any time and sometimes there is more than one problem to deal with.
No matter how difficult you believe it is to plan your day properly you need to do it. It is very important that you have a clear view on what you need to do each day. Personally I like to spend a few minutes at the end of each day planning for the next day. I find that this helps me to relax and unwind more as I know that tomorrow I will complete important tasks.
As an alternative to this you might find that it works better for you to plan your day as soon as you arrive at your place of work. Some people do not have the energy to plan for the next day after working many hours. That’s fine; just make sure that you plan ahead.
5. Accept that you can’t do it all yourself
If you want to get a lot of things done every day then you will need others to help you. Trying to do everything yourself is a sure fire way to ensure that it isn’t going to happen. You need to put your trust issues aside and get some help.
When you have people working for you then use them wisely. Challenge them by delegating some of your tasks to them. You can check with them regularly to see how they are doing and ask if they need any help. These days I delegate all day to day operational matters to my employees.
This works well now but it was a challenge to start with. I had to give people a lot of help and advice so that they would complete the task as I wanted it done. But that initial effort has really paid off and now it saves me a great deal of time.
As a business owner you need free time to plan ahead for your business. Delegating the day to day running of my property business provided the freedom that I wanted. If I wanted to jet off to some far flung destination and do my business planning on the beach then I could do that.
What if you don’t have the skills in house to complete the task? In today’s world there are a whole host of talented outsourcers or freelancers that would love to work with you. Let me give you an example here.
I am a pretty creative person and have a natural talent for design. People were always amazed at how I could produce stunning looking logos, websites, brochures, business cards and so on. Although I always enjoyed doing this it was a real time stealer.
So I decided that I would get someone else to do my design work for me. There was nobody in house with these skills so I turned to the freelancing market. It did take me a while to find a freelancer that was on the same wavelength as I was but it was pretty easy really. Now I give this person all of my design work and save a lot of time.
If you are just starting out in property investment then you will have to do a lot of the early work yourself. But there is usually always the chance of outsourcing some of the work to save you time. I cannot recommend delegating tasks and outsourcing highly enough as a time saver. There is some initial effort required on your part but after that it is all good.
6. Minimise Distractions
Many time management experts will tell you that you need to eliminate distractions altogether. I am a realist and do not believe that it is possible to eliminate them completely. In my opinion there will always be distractions for you to contend with from time to time. Some of these are actually beneficial to you. So my mission was to minimise distractions.
I am a great believer and user of technology and use computers a lot to save time. The Internet is one of the greatest inventions ever in my opinion. I love the fact that I can communicate with people all over the world without having to leave the office.
But these advances in technology bring a whole host of distractions that didn’t exist previously. These days we have email, instant messaging and social media to contend with. These things are all useful but you need to use them wisely.
I am not someone who can’t stay away from social media but I realise that this is difficult for some people. Facebook and Twitter are great but I don’t let them rule my life. I use them as a communication tool to get the word out about what I am doing.
If you find that you are spending a lot of time checking your Facebook, Twitter or any other social media accounts then you need to get out of the habit of doing this. I only log on to these accounts at specific times. Let people know this so they are not expecting you to be around all day.
I use the same approach with email. Email is a very important tool for my property investment business and it will be for yours as well, But I found that I was becoming a slave to my inbox. When an email arrived I had to open it and respond immediately. Believe me nothing is that important in your inbox.
So I implemented a system where I check my inbox a couple of times a day and will respond to at those times. I have set up an automatic email to go out to senders of emails to tell them that I will only respond to emails at certain times of the day. This has worked really well for me.
Other distractions that I try and minimise are people coming to me with problems and the telephone. I have a telephone in my office and of course I have a mobile phone. I am very selective about who I give my mobile phone number to. If I know that they will be constantly calling me and wasting my time then they don’t get the number.
You are in charge of your property investment business so you need to say “no” to people that want to steal your time. If people keep barging into your office asking for your advice then wean them off of this. They will soon learn to solve their problems on their own.
It may take some time to minimise distractions but believe me it is worth it. Stop wasting time on social media and don’t be a slave to your inbox. Don’t let others monopolise your time either.
7. Track how you are spending your Time
I was tempted to put this at the top of the list because I found tracking the way that I spent my time to be a real “eye opener”. At first I probably went a bit overboard with this and found myself trying to account for every minute. There is no need to go this far. Just make a not of what you spend chunks of time on during the day.
There are timesheet tracking tools available online and I looked at some of these. I am sure that they could be useful but in the end I just settled for good old fashioned pen and paper. I started to write down what I was doing and when. At the end of the day I reviewed this to see where I was wasting time.
This was a revelation for me. I found that I was spending time fixing things that other people could be fixing. There were a number of long phone calls or messenger calls that I could certainly have made shorter. I looked at what I was doing online and found that I was spending far too much time looking at websites that were not important.
So if you want a great way to effectively manage your time then take a detailed look at what you are currently doing. Obviously you need to be honest with yourself here. If you know that you wasted an hour on Facebook then write this down and do something about it.
Take Responsibility to use your Time effectively
This blog is all about creating freedom through property investment. If you don’t use your time wisely then it will take you longer to achieve freedom or you may never achieve it at all. We only have so much time and can never get it back so use it as wisely as possible.
My post on business action planning is immensely popular and is another great way to save time. If you haven’t read it then I recommend that you do soon. Take responsibility for how you spend your time so that you can achieve your freedom goals.