• The first step is always to purge, no matter what.
  • Create a workspace environment that moves efficiently, so you have more time in your workday.
  • A real estate practitioner usually has multiple things going on at once, so create a place for bills, letters and paperwork, and deal with them on your time -- once.

Has anyone asked if you have a desk underneath all that stuff? Are you sure that you know? From those who have a cluttered workspace at home or the office, I hear the same rationale over and over again.

“I don’t have time,” and that leads to, “People with perfectly straightened-out desks are boring.”

The truth is, we’re all different.

As real estate agents, the​ “sweet spot” of your efficiency and productivity can only be increased if you are open to the possibility of trying a few tips to help get it under control.

Step 1: Purge

This is always the first step, no matter how many articles, advice or examples I’ve seen. However, easier said than done. If we knew how to do this, wouldn’t we just do it?

Try these 10 little words: “Get rid of everything that you don’t need or want.” This is hard for some of us. The I’ll-need-that-someday attitude will bog down your valuable brain-space and pull attention away from clients​.

Tackle one area at a time, no matter how small. I use a to-do list, separating my office into bite-sized chunks, and it feels more like maintenance than purging​.​

I also do this — whether I need it — once a quarter. That approach is easier on those of us that look at the war-zone and get overwhelmed.

I also use a simple rule of thumb: If it’s gathering dust (I haven’t touched it in about a week), it’s either on the chopping block or it gets stored.

Step 2: Create the flow

You could do a bunch of things that make good sense. The purpose here is not to put items on your to-do list for the sake of never getting them done. It’s to create a workspace environment that moves efficiently, so you have more time in your workday.

Design your space: Is your office chair comfortable? Does it help you sit up straight so that you’re not getting tired? I prefer a stand-up desk, myself. Re-evaluate if what you have isn’t​ conducive to what you use it for.

Agents are out showing homes and meeting clients, yet we spend a considerable amount of time at our desks.​

Positioning: If you use your desk for sales, ​why is your phone way over there on the wrong side of your desk? We all have and use computers. Do you find yourself with 20 tabs open at once? Maybe it’s time to get that second monitor and extend your desktop.

​When you shuffle paper, agreements and contracts, i​s everything that you use within arm’s reach, or do you have to walk to another room to deal with it? Make it easy for yourself.

Enter the digital age: Every receipt, invoice, contract or paper I want to save gets scanned immediately, and I have it set up so that it goes into a folder on my laptop.

At the end of the day, I drag, drop and rename a few items. Done. Filed. I have a printer/​scanner that makes it easy to do this at my desk. Out and about, I snap a pic with my phone, and it’s auto-uploaded to a Dropbox folder​, so it’s ready when I play the drag-and-drop game later.

If you resist th​e digital​ approach​ (yes, old-school philosophy still exists), create a space that you can put your paperwork for the day and file it all once, that day or once a week.

On a side note, if you’re one of those people who have a computer desktop full of unorganized icons because you, “just don’t want to lose them…” then I would recommend a little computer file system training. There is an easier way.

Step 3: Touch it once

How many times have you picked it up, checked it out and thought about what you’d like to do with it? The trick here is when you’re ready to deal with it; you do — and you’re done.

That thing you do, moving one pile to another to consolidate, to re-file to move here or there is killing your productivity and your efficiency.

A real estate practitioner usually has multiple things going on at once, so create a place for bills, letters and paperwork, and deal with them on your time — once.

“Touching it once” is an art and a habit that’s easy to instill. You’ll find it not only relieves a lot of the stress that new items tend to foster, but it’s an effortless way of maintaining your space, too.

Step 4: Close up shop

At the end of the day, do you leave your desk in disarray knowing that you’ll just be back early in the morning and pick up where you left off? Come on. You’re better than that.

About 15 minutes before you call it a day (or night), pick up your tools and put them away. You don’t see wrenches, hammers and drill bits lying out all over the place after the builder goes home — and you shouldn’t leave your tools out, either.

There is a sense of accomplishment that sets in when you leave with a clean workspace and return to it that way. It might all be psychological, but if it adds 10 minutes of better efficiency to your daily routine, that could amount to more than an entire work week in one year.

Whether you choose to spend that working or with your family is up to you.

Like these ideas? Practice and incorporate them into your work life and you’ll see a marked improvement in not just your workflow, but your overall mind health.

​To run a real estate business takes many attributes. Organization and efficiency are just part of the all-important foundation. ​It’s liberating when you come into the office each morning and your workspace is fresh, inviting and begging you to seize the day.

Jeff Lowen is the managing director of The Real Estate Expert Advisor, LLC. a real estate consulting, coaching and sales firm with Keller Williams Realty. Follow him on Twitter.

Email Jeff Lowen.

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