Two weeks ago, I gave a speech at a conference given at Esther Muller’s Continuing Education Academy. One of the several traits I discussed, when talking about habits of top brokers, was time management. That single topic produced the most interest and subsequent follow-up emails from those in attendance. I think this is a result of the general tendency of brokers to feel overwhelmed, too busy and not having enough time to get done all that they would like to.
I have always said, as brokers, all we have is our time and our knowledge (I would also argue that our relationships are a third, but that is another topic for another day). We can always increase, and enhance, our knowledge base by reading, speaking to other professionals and attending any of the many conferences, seminars and summits that organizations produce. But when it comes to time, we cannot produce more of it. We can only use the time we have more efficiently and effectively.
The best way to use your time most effectively is to prioritize your tasks and organize your day. If you have been in business for more than a couple of years, you probably have enough tasks you would like to do to keep you busy 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you would still never get everything done. So, how do you prioritize your tasks and organize your day?
The first thing to do is to create a list of the tasks you think you need to get done, also known as a “to do” list. After you have listed all of these things, the list should be reviewed and broken down into three categories: 1) What you must do, 2) What you can delegate to others and 3) What you shouldn’t do.
Of the tasks you must do, it is often said that the thing to do first is the most important thing. However, the item I like to do first is the important one that I least want to do. Often, we procrastinate doing the tasks we don’t enjoy. If we procrastinate, these things hang over our heads, and this cloud limits the enjoyment we get out of tasks we like. So of all of the most important things you need to do, select the one you like doing least, get it done and then move onto the other important things. You will feel great about the rest of the day.
Delegating tasks is a critical skill of the most successful folks in our industry. You simply cannot do everything yourself, so surround yourself with a great team. Then figure out what tasks only you can do and have team members do the rest. In the early years at Massey Knakal, Paul and I would do everything. It wasn’t until we hired other senior level management professionals that the company really started to gain significant traction in the market. Today, there are individual brokers who are similarly building teams around them to maximize their growth and potential.
Learning to say “no” to things you shouldn’t do is more difficult that it might appear. (For me, it took a lot of work to learn to say no.) Harvard professor, William Ury, wrote a great book called, The Power of a Positive No, in which he says that no is perhaps the most important and powerful word in language (read this book—it is great!). Learn to say no!
Another great tip for time management is to get an early start. It is important to get enough sleep, but getting an early start to the day makes us much more productive.
It is also important to understand that multitasking is a fallacy. We cannot do several things at once. We must devote our entire focus to the task at hand. In order to do this, we must minimize distractions and create time limits for each task.
Managing your emails is also a great way to save time. Although people expect responses to emails instantaneously, only look at email a few times per day or you could literally spend all day responding to email. Or better yet, have someone else monitor your email account and bring the most urgent emails to your attention (this is a great task to delegate). This technology is great but also potentially overwhelming.
Lastly, figure out what your time is actually worth. And by that, I mean what each minute of your time is worth. Here’s how: let’s say a broker makes $1 million per year. Let’s assume she works 12 hours per day (half a day—12 hours out of 24—is all that is needed to succeed in commercial brokerage) each weekday plus five hours over the weekend. That is 65 hours per week. Let’s also assume she takes six weeks of vacation per year. That means she works 65 hours per week multiplied by 46 weeks, or 2,990 hours per year; $1 million divided by 2,990 hours means she earns $334.45 per hour. Divide this by 60, and she earns about $6 per minute. So if this broker wants to spend just 15 minutes on something, it “costs” her nearly $100. If you value your time this way, others will do the same.
When it comes to time management, it is important to remember that everyone has the same amount of time, and those that are the most successful are likely using their time more effectively than others. They also value their time immensely and look at how they spend each minute. Following some of these tips will help you get more out of each day.