Manage Your Time and Be Happier for It
By Murray S. Greene, BOMA Fellow, CPM, RPA, SMA
One of the numerous things about commercial property management that makes the career path so unique is the many soft and hard skills that are required to be successful. From understanding how the systems in a building work to accounting and financial skills to legal knowledge to tenant relations and more, commercial property managers must be exceptionally well-rounded. And, having these skills is one thing; making sure they are actually used effectively is another. In order to be successful, property professionals must be able to efficiently manage their time.
DOING MORE WITH LESS
“Time management” has been in the professional lexicon for a long time. I remember learning to use a paper Day-Timer planner back in the mid-1980s as a way to help organize and plan work activities. As long as I can remember, there never seemed to be enough time to get everything done—and it has only gotten harder. We are living in an age where everything is “now” and the expectation from all the stakeholders we serve is higher than ever. Today’s technology has been both a blessing and a curse: It gives us the ability to manage a lot of work fairly quickly—but, frequently to a point of data overload—and it also tethers us to the job 24/7.
In almost every industry, professionals are trying to do more with less. That is especially true in commercial property management. The recession that we experienced more than a decade ago triggered a downsizing that we still feel today. The average square footage a property manager manages has increased, while at the same time these roles have expanded. Many property manager roles now include some aspects of asset management.
So, how do we successfully execute those many hard and soft skills while putting out daily fires and taking on additional responsibilities and tasks? We must manage the time we have more efficiently and effectively.
Time is a finite resource, and you can only optimize your time so far. Keep a sharp eye on all of your deadlines and identify your highest-priority projects.
USING TIME WISELY
There is a whole industry devoted to teaching time management skills—a sure sign that it’s a difficult area to master. Over the years, I’ve adopted tools and methods to use my time more wisely. Every professional will need to use trial and error to discover what methods work best for them; however, I believe there are some universal truths about productivity.
- Prioritize projects. Time is a finite resource, and you can only optimize your time so far. Keep a sharp eye on all of your deadlines and identify your highest-priority projects. There will always be a few things that simply won’t get done. Make sure they are the ones that matter least.
- Get an early morning boost. Mark Twain once said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And, if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” His point? Tackle your biggest tasks in the morning. Accomplishing those will give you momentum to help you sail through the rest of the day.
- Be realistic. If you’re not being honest with yourself about how much you are likely to get done in a certain window of time, you’re setting up yourself for failure right away. Do not commit to completing a project in less time than it will really take.
- Under promise, over deliver. Want to look like a time management master? Give yourself a little cushion when promising to deliver on a deadline and see if you can beat it. Finishing right on time or a little early is much more impressive than even a day late.
- Learn to recognize "good enough". Even if you don’t think your work on something is perfect, spending more time on it may not outweigh the benefit of moving on to the next project. Getting everything on your list to “good enough” is far better than only accomplishing one thing perfectly.
- Multitask when you can (and single task when it counts). Sometimes, two tasks work perfectly together, but trying to multitask on important projects that take focus and undivided attention is likely to just sabotage your efforts.
- Schedule project time on your calendar.If you know you need dedicated time to work on a task that requires your complete focus, schedule that time into your calendar. You’ll be less likely to get interrupted—or let your attention stray.
- Strategically delegate tasks. You cannot do it all yourself. Constantly look for places you can delegate tasks to your team members. They may not always do it the way you would, but they will learn and the better they get, the better for everyone.
- Manage burnout. Human productivity has limits; it’s vital to take time to rest and recharge. Take your vacation time, don’t work when sick and enjoy your time away from work. Happy, healthy people produce higher-quality work—and are just more pleasant to work with all around.
LOOK FOR LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
Because of COVID-19, many individuals are working remotely from home. That brings a whole other dimension to time management, from dealing with additional distractions to not always having the same technology as you had in the office. Focus on what you can control. Try to maintain a schedule that separates your work time from the responsibilities of home life.
As I wrote this article, I received a call that an underground concrete storm-drain pipe had collapsed and created a sinkhole at one of the properties we manage—obviously a high-priority item that required my attention. After assessing the situation and delegating it to a very qualified member of my team, I could resume my writing. I trust my team to handle this issue and update me, so that I can focus my attention on other matters.
Fitting time into your schedule for professional development will pay dividends in the long run and impress your employers.
Focusing on these tools, methods and strategies will help you stay organized and focused. But, improving your job knowledge—those hard and soft skills previously mentioned—will contribute much more to your ability to get things done more accurately and in less time. The better your skills, the better you are at your job.
I have always been a proponent of continuing education and have dedicated part of my professional career to teaching and mentoring. Educational offerings like the ones that BOMA International and BOMI International offer in person and virtually provide the knowledge and skills that give a student the ability to be more competent and, therefore, more efficient with their time. Fitting time into your schedule for professional development will pay dividends in the long run and impress your employers.
Managing our time to ensure we meet the requirements of our position is the cornerstone of our job performance. Don’t start working long hours each day until you burn out—you’ll be taking two steps forward and one step back when you could just walk at a reasonable pace. Proper organization and planning, with the integration of time management tools, methods and strategies and the dedication of improving our soft and hard skills, can help ensure our success in this industry.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Murray Greene is the founder, president and chief operating officer of Greene Commercial Real Estate Group, Inc., based in Hollywood, Florida. He is a BOMA Fellow and currently serves on the Commercial Real Estate Certification Institute (CRECI) Board of Directors. CRECI offers the Certified Manager of Commercial Properties™ (CMCP™), the first certification for the industry that validates the soft and hard skill knowledge of early-career professionals.
This article will be published in the September/October 2020 issue of BOMA Magazine.