Summer vacation is a rite of passage for many. However, most business owners and entrepreneurs will tell you they simply don’t have the time to take off from work and responsibilities. While time is valuable in business, taking time away to spend with family and friends is important to stay refreshed, happy and motivated.
Whether you’re a real estate investor, business owner, or simply busy – we can bet your to do list is a mile long. As a real estate investor, you need to balance taking seller calls, buyer calls, managing ad campaigns, searching for leads, maintaining relationships, closing deals and active rehabs. It can be easy to let tasks add up over the course of a month, or even a week.
If you’ve been struggling to figure out how you can manage to take time out of your busy schedule to plan a summer getaway, you’ll want to keep reading. We’ve put together the following list of time management skills and strategies used by our very own investors at CT Homes. Use these 6 insider tips to free up more time for summer activities, and maybe even that vacation to San Diego you’ve been dreaming about:
1. Record Weekly Activities
As the adage suggests, you can’t know where you are going until you know where you have been. The same holds true for real estate investors at every level, business owners, aspiring entrepreneurs, and simply busy people. Regardless of your direction, it is important to take a moment – or in this case, a whole week – and evaluate your current position.
Really analyze where you are allocating your time and energy. Carry a notebook and record everything from your thoughts and conversations to your actual activities. At the very least, this practice will alert you to where most of your time is being spent. It should also serve as an indicator as to how much work you can get done on a regular basis. The notes you take will most likely reveal some habits you never even knew you had, both good and bad. You will see how much time is actually spent producing results and how much time is wasted on unproductive thoughts, conversations and actions.
In a week’s time, your notes should reveal a trend. It doesn’t matter if it is a good or bad trend, yet. The idea is to evaluate where your time is going, and to adjust your schedule accordingly. As an investor, your main priority is to focus on tasks that move your company forward. It is at this point where you determine your priorities. What is it your business needs at the moment? How can you make things more sustainable? What systems do you already have in place? Are they working?
This next part is easier said than done, but a necessity nonetheless. Eliminate unproductive activities. Now that you have an idea of what may be wasting your time, it should be easier to rid yourself of bad habits. However, you need to replace these bad habits with productive, result producing activities. It is not enough to just stop doing unproductive things. You really need to work at being proactive.
Once you have made the shift, continue to record your daily actions. Take note of what your new schedule looks like. Is it working? Have you started to see different results?
If done correctly, this simple approach will eliminate unproductive activities. Everything you do will be for the good of your company and, therefore, move it in the right direction without wasting valuable time. More importantly, the free time you have left over is yours to do whatever you want with. Use it wisely.
2. Schedule Time For High-Priority Tasks
The concept of a to-do list is great in theory. Organizing a list of things that need to be done is a great way to keep track of your progress. However, it is not all that uncommon to see similar lists become nothing less than daunting. As an investor, it is entirely conceivable to generate a to-do list with so many tasks that it is unworkable. There are only so many hours in a day. It is up to you to make sure you are using your time in the most efficient way possible.
Instead of hammering out a to-do list, make a schedule for your most important priorities. Any activity or conversation that’s important to your success should have a time assigned to it. Appointment books work if you follow them. Schedule appointments with yourself and create time blocks for high-priority thoughts, conversations, and actions. The devil is in the details, however. For as easy as it is to make a schedule, it takes a considerable amount of discipline to follow it – especially when you are the only one holding yourself accountable. When you schedule something, follow through with it. You will find that this little trick reduces the amount of time you spend on less-productive activities.
3. Prioritize Your Actions
As a real estate investor or other business owner, you are in charge of your own business. That means income produced is directly correlated to your actions, or the actions of those you hired. That said, you should spend the majority of your time working on income producing tasks. Leave menial work to those you hire and work on the things that are most important to your progression as a real estate business owner.
It really comes down to how you value your time. Sure, you could spend all morning filing paperwork, and it is probably something that really needs to be done, but why not hire somebody to do it for minimum wage? Your time is really better spent working on bigger tasks.
Consider that any lead you get could potentially land a lucrative deal. Now consider that landing deals is a numbers game: the more you have, the more likely you are to land a project. Shouldn’t most of your time be spent finding deals? If you get just one deal under your belt, the time you invested was well worth it, and worth a lot more than you would have made performing menial office tasks. As the owner of your company, make sure your time is spent working on the most important tasks. Leave everything else to the team you hire.
4. Plan Each Day Ahead Of Time
We have already discussed how important it is to set aside time for your most important tasks – creating a schedule if you will. However, and bare with me here, it is equally important to set aside time to schedule time. Did I lose you yet?
Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day. In fact, don’t even start your day until you have established a time plan. Know when you want to be somewhere, or when you want specific tasks done by. Knocking this out will eliminate down time and increase productivity. The more productive you are with your time, the more you can get done. You will be surprised at how much time a simple task like this can save you over the course of a week, month, or even a year.
5. Determine Results & Expectations Beforehand
Set aside approximately five minutes before every call you have to make or task you have to complete. In that time, determine what it is that you want to attain, and be specific. Think of it as setting a small goal. It will give you a better idea of what you are looking to do, and what you need to do to achieve results. Know what success looks like before you start. Don’t be surprised if time appears to slow down when you have everything under control. Confidence can really go a long way saving you time.
Be sure to take additional time after the task is completed, no more than five minutes is necessary, and evaluate your progress. Did you achieve the desired results? If not, what could you have done differently?
Really put some thought into this reflection. What you learn from it should be applied to your next task. This is really a system of checks and balances for your work life. It will keep you on track and make sure you are always trending in the right direction. Again, when all of your time is spent in a productive manner, it can really reduce down time. The cumulative result can give your business a lot more time, or even some free time. It is really up to you to decide what to do with the time you save.
6. Cut Back Your Availability
As counterproductive as this may sound, reducing the amount of time you are available to others can be conducive to a productive work environment. You would be surprised at how much work you can get done by eliminating communications, or at least limiting your availability to others. A lot of investors will find this difficult, as real estate is a people business. Developing relationships is a must. Yes, it is always important to build a working rapport with everyone you come into contact with, but you need to draw a line. There has to be a time of day when you can’t be reached.
Disconnect from the world for an allotted period of time every day. This can mean not responding to emails or phone calls immediately. The idea is to block out all distractions, unless it is something that demands your attention. Don’t instantly give people your attention unless it’s absolutely crucial in your business to offer an immediate human response. Instead, schedule a time to answer email and return phone calls. Sensing a trend? Scheduling is absolutely imperative to the success of any investor, business owner, or busy person.
Time and time again, these tricks have proven to increase efficiency and reduce downtime. Implemented in the right way, investors will have more time to do whatever it is they want. Of course you can continue working, but why not take some time off this summer? You have earned it.
Have you been dreaming about having the time to take a summer vacation? If so, where do you see yourself going? Leave yourself reminders, like post it notes and changing the desktop image of your computer, and motivate yourself to make it happen.
I hope these tips will help you to become more productive, efficient, and eventually relaxed once you create the time to take that vacation you deserve.