Eat the frog

Wellbeing for property managers

Everyone has ups and downs in their jobs, no matter how much they may love it, or how well they perform in their role. This is true for property managers, who need to cope with unpredictable situations and manage tough conversations. In the real estate industry, you’re in the business of striving to go above and beyond for your clients and staying ahead of your competition. However, this doesn’t mean you should be sacrificing your own welfare to achieve this.

Truth is, working extra hours to get to the bottom of your seemingly endless list of tasks won’t be beneficial in the long run. Skipping meal breaks, completing inspections outside of work hours, and even doing mental planning for the day ahead can lead to burnout and additional stress. It’s not uncommon for employees especially in real estate and property management to go through peaks and troughs in their careers. In property management in Australia, the staff turnover rate is averaging out at an astonishingly high 20-30%.

Numbers show that workplace burnout occurs more frequently to the most engaged and productive employees. High-performing workers who go above and beyond to achieve their KPIs and secure those 5-star ratings are the most susceptible to the effects of overworking. This potential loss or underperformance of valuable employees means strategies to manage stress, including mindfulness, should be taken seriously.

With high performing property managers, we want you to excel in your professional and personal lives and to support those around you to flourish as well.

Here are six ways for property managers to manage stress and practice mindfulness so you can continue to reach your goals at work while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Share them with your property management team and find what works best for you.

Prioritise tasks

Invest time at the start of every work day to plan out your day. Always prioritise the highest performance-driving tasks first, as research has shown that people who execute their most difficult tasks first are generally more productive and high achieving than those who start with easy tasks and work their way up.

Have you heard of the expression ‘eat the frog’? It's a way to prioritise tasks by starting with the biggest, hardest and most important task you have first. Brian Tracy wrote a best-selling book on the concept and a number of websites outline how to go about eating the frog. Having a major task on your mind can make you lose focus on the task at hand. Studies have shown that the dread of having to execute a major task requires a huge amount of subconscious focus.

A loss of focus can make the task take longer to complete, which also leads to the task getting done less effectively overall. Getting the hardest task (the frog) out of the way at the start of your day allows you to breeze through the rest of the day and creates a positive mood, which in turn increases productivity.

Delegate and trial various work structures

Many modern property management firms run a pod-structured team, where two or more property managers share the management of the same clients, instead of a traditional portfolio-based model where a single property manager manages their own clients. Though it has been an effective way to manage properties and clients in the past, relying on a single property manager to look after all aspects of their portfolio can lead to higher risks of burning out, particularly as the number of properties managed increases.

Expectations from landlords and renters have increased over the years and it’s challenging for an individual property manager to handle multiple property owners, tenants and contractors. Legislation is also becoming more heavily regulated, resulting in a steady increase in the workload for property managers, as they try to keep up with new and additional demands of the role.

Running a pod-based structure or collaborating with a junior employee, allows you to share, delegate, or hand-over smaller tasks if time or motivation runs low. This allows you to focus on the most important tasks at hand, while helping empower newer employees by entrusting them with work and strengthening relationships.

One of the best ways to improve productivity is to shorten the overall number of tasks on your to-do list, rather than efficiently performing every task on a longer list.


Maintain a work-life balance

It’s essential for your mental health to set clear boundaries when it comes to your work.

Whatever you need to keep your motivation high outside of the workplace, you should consistently make time for. Whether it be playing your favourite sport or spending time with family, you need to completely forget about your job and not worry about your work tasks during this personal time.

When you’re preparing to take holiday leave, plan wisely and delegate tasks so your team and agency continue to operate smoothly while you’re away. A good handover and plenty of preparation time will let you take a mental break without thinking about your property management clients while you're floating in the Mediterranean. Plus, you don’t want to return to a pile of tasks on your first day back so planning is key. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance and taking time for leisure and hobbies will help prevent burnout and make you feel much better at work.

Say ‘not right now’

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with work and have too much on your plate, don’t be afraid to politely say ‘not right now’ to people. By saying no, and giving a clear reason as to why you are unable to slot a particular task into your schedule, while providing alternative solutions, you can better manage expectations and prevent overworking.

We understand this can be especially difficult when managing expectations and tasks with a client. When you can, try to reframe the ‘no’ in a positive way and with an explanation. And it’s possible to convey a clear “no” without ever saying the word.

Instead of “No, I can’t do that,” try phrases like, “I understand how you feel, but we can't accommodate that right now,” or “Thanks for letting me know what you're looking for. We'll review how we can implement something that addresses that in the future.”

Understanding your client’s point of view and letting them know that their request has been heard is one of the most important factors to take into consideration.


Block out time

Blocking out time for your important work is one of the most effective ways to avoid taking home extra stress or worrying about tasks after hours. This can be challenging for property managers who are rushing to and from property inspections, chasing arrears and managing maintenance requests, but it’s important that you block out time to get your high-priority work done without distractions. Otherwise, you may feel as though you’re drowning in a to-do list that continues to grow.

We recommend scheduling blocks of free time every week, rather than hoping to find breaks in-between meetings and travelling. These small windows of focus can provide you with the space needed to concentrate on higher-level thinking and stimulate creativity while improving mindfulness and peace in your busy work life. With the frantic pace of modern work days, scheduling time for yourself to reflect and work quietly is important. Consciously set aside the time to find a moment of peace in your working week.

While you're working through a particular task, you can also set a time cap to how long you want to work on it. You can even try the Pomodoro method, setting yourself a 25-min stretch of work followed by a 5-min break. This time management method was designed in the 1980s and there are online Pomodoro time management tools available you can use to set your time limits.

Take brain breaks

You may think long meditation sessions are necessary to achieve a state of healthy mindfulness. However, mindfulness studies from Wharton have found that even short, 7- or 8 -minute bursts of quiet mindfulness result in more productive, satisfied and efficient employees. A few minutes of brain breaks to practice mindfulness can lead to better decision making and can generate new ideas and solutions, both which are extremely valuable skills for busy property managers.

We spend a large portion of our week working. So we recommend you apply these suggestions to your daily life to avoid workplace burnout and make your work experience a positive one. Look out for fellow co-workers and don’t forget to offer help where you can too.