It seems that there are never enough hours in the day for all of the things we have to do, yet we’ve never spent more time fighting distractions and time wasters. How can you take control of the minutes and hours in order to take control of the days, weeks, months, and years?
We’ve taken a look at some of the best thinking of time management gurus, real estate pros, and game-changing famous figures to bring you the best methods for managing your time wisely and well.
1. Bullet journaling
It’s been around for a couple of years now and shows no sign of letting up. This time management technique, as described by agent and Inman Columnist Teresa Boardman in a prior column, helps you to think both short-term and long-term.
It’s a natural for list makers and anyone else who loves organization, doodling, and thinking in bullet points.
It seems that everyone is a believer in the power of time-blocking, even if everyone isn’t totally faithful. Setting aside time for the tasks you have to do and want to do and putting them on your calendar makes you more likely to accomplish your daily and weekly goals.
Don’t limit yourself to professional commitments — schedule the kids’ sports activities and date night with your significant other as well in order to stay on track in every area of your life.
3. Don’t break the chain!
This simple technique from comedian Jerry Seinfeld is a powerful motivational tool as well as a way to ensure that high priority items get done. Identify one or more tasks that you want to make sure get done each day.
You might choose lead gen, catching up on paperwork, or even wellness activities like going to the gym or spending 15 minutes in meditation.
When you do it for the first time, mark it on your calendar — then tell yourself “Don’t Break the Chain.” Every time you do this daily task, mark it down, and see how long your chain of marks on your calendar can become day after day. This simple visual can translate into ongoing, consistent action that gets results.
4. Eisenhower box
This simple decision-making technique helps you prioritize tasks more effectively so that the things that need to happen get done. Named for U.S. President and Five-Star General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Eisenhower Matrix or Eisenhower Box consists of dividing tasks into the following categories:
- Urgent and important (DO).
- Important, but not urgent (DELAY).
- Urgent, but not important (DELEGATE).
- Neither urgent nor important (DELETE).
Categorizing tasks in this way allows you to more effectively move up the ones that are more meaningful and/or that only you can accomplish while putting aside or delegating the ones that can be ignored or accomplished by someone else.
For list-makers, it’s especially effective at creating an order of urgency to your endless to-dos.
5. Tend your garden
Based on the French philosopher and writer Voltaire’s conclusion in his 1759 satire Candide, this strategy prioritizes only those tasks that are truly important to you while clearing out the mental and emotional clutter that so often gets in the way of effective action.
Stop asking why or contemplating the meaning behind various actions. Stop being distracted by outside turmoil, office politics, or world events.
Instead, focus on concrete actions and tasks without regard for their philosophical or theoretical framework and accomplish those tasks each day. You’ll be surprised how quickly you move forward when you give up endless “Why’s” and “What If’s” and just focus on the task at hand.
6. Beat the clock
Designed as an ADHD adaptation, beat the clock is based on the idea that many of us lose track of time during an average day. Therefore, external reminders can help you to stay on task and get more done.
Set multiple alarms at the beginning of each day, either based on your calendar for that day or on your time blocking categories. Give yourself a few minutes to transition between activities, then live your life by the alarms, moving from task to task when prompted. This strategy not only adds urgency to each task, it keeps you from getting bogged down in things that aren’t working.
7. Snowball method
This is how New Millennium Realty Group’s Jordan Marx prioritizes his work:
1. Work that leads to next week’s paycheck first.
2. Work which generates ROI next.
3. Work that is active marketing (lead generating.)
4. Work that is passive marketing after that ( e.g. branding, networking, tech solutions.)
You usually hear of the Snowball Method in relation to paying down debt, but it can work just as well for prioritizing tasks and managing time. Think about how tasks relate to each other, then prioritize those tasks which will help you accomplish other tasks more easily or which will lead to concrete financial results.
For example, in Jordan’s example above, tasks are ordered by the way in which they generate income, with more urgent, near-term tasks prioritized over passive marketing which has a longer timeline and a less concrete outcome.
8. Churchill method
Based on the time management method of the conservative British wartime leader Winston Churchill, this strategy involves breaking every day and every event down to the two or three most important tasks, then focusing as much attention as possible on them until they are accomplished.
Unlike multitasking which can have you juggling endless tasks of varying importance all at the same time, the Churchill Method helps you identify the things that are most important and put all of your attention on them until they are complete. That can also help you get better at delegating or ignoring those time-wasters that have been taking up bandwidth.
9. Single task
Stefani P Konidis, Chestnut Park Real Estate Brokerage advises: “Mono tasking…do one thing at a time and prioritize your to do list by deadlines.”
Whether you call it single-tasking or mono-tasking, this is the opposite of multi-tasking and is even more hardcore than the Churchill Method. Choose just one thing at a time, do it right, then move along.
It may not always be possible day-to-day, but even if you choose just one day a week to lock yourself in your office and work your way in an orderly fashion through a prioritized to-do list, it can have a powerful impact on your productivity and help you to stay ahead of your most challenging tasks.
Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate. She is also a Florida Realtors faculty member. Follow Writing Real Estate on Facebook, Twitter, Instagr