Your year of working smarter

When the sprint to the end of financial year is over and done, it’s always a great time to pause, reflect and reset for a new financial year. If you find yourself bracing for another 12 months of long days and to-do lists that just seem to grow by the second, maybe it’s time to bring some Kolmeo-style productivity hacks into your working life. Instead of slogging your way through the coming year, take up just one of these time and resource management tips to get more done with less stress.

1. Quit multitasking

It’s not hard to see why property managers end up in multitask mode by default. The long to-do-lists that come with the territory can make you feel as though you should be able to do more than one thing simultaneously. But constantly moving back and forth between different tasks is about the worst thing you can do in productivity terms, because you’re actually taking more time to get less done.

In her presentation at AREC (Australasian Real Estate Conference) in Queensland this May, organisational psychologist Dr Amantha Imber claimed you’ll take 40% longer to get stuff done when you multitask. As she explains, asking your brain to switch context at the drop of a hat is really demanding. It has to stop, retool and reconfigure itself to deal with the ‘rules’ for each situation or task you’re trying to deal with. One of the best things you can do to optimise your output every day is to stick with that task you’re doing until it’s finished before moving on to the next thing.

2. Cut down on distractions

Kicking your multitasking habit is even harder when your attention is constantly hijacked by phone calls, people and technology. As you’re in a customer facing role, phone calls from tenants and owners will always take priority over a report you might be compiling or an email you’re writing. But for most of the other notifications, alerts and conversations that pop up and take you off task, you need ways to filter out these micro interruptions that can steal hours from your working week.

If you’re in a work space where people are inclined to stop by for a friendly chat, try wearing headphones or use some kind of written sign to let them know – politely –that you’re in focus mode. Managing the distractions of technology can be much harder, as apps and the alerts that come with them are designed as magnets for your eyes and brain. Switching off notifications altogether is a great start. Better yet, start the year with a spring clean of the software you’re no longer using on devices so you’re less distracted by visual clutter on your home screen and desktop.

3. Use tech wisely

Limiting interruptions is just one way to make sure digital tools are enhancing your efficiency rather than limiting it. A new year can definitely be a good time to take a look at your tech stack and make sure it’s setting you up for success. And if you find yourself switching from one app for your to-do list to the multiple apps you use for communication, see if you can find a way to consolidate everything into just a handful of apps.

For some this could mean using your email inbox or a particular Slack thread as your to-do list. By keeping all messages that need attending to as ‘unread’ and deleting each one as you deal with it, you’ll easily be able to see what you have in front of you. You can adapt this approach to ‘hack’ the app you use the most or try something else, like a reminder or to-do app on your phone. The trick is to find something that works for you and stick with it as your primary source of truth.

We had exactly this kind of consolidated workflow approach in mind when we designed our requests functionality for the Kolmeo platform and app. For property managers, requests make it easy to have a primary to-do list as a place where you can manually or auto-create tasks to a schedule and drag and drop all the emails and file notes that come with each task. It gives you a single view of all communications and info as well as status alerts to keep things from dropping off your radar.

4. Match timeslots to tasks

When it comes to productivity, property managers have an extra layer of complexity to manage – time in and out of the office. As you move through your working day and week, you’ve got a multitude of things to pop out and take care of The time it takes to travel and park is like the geographical equivalent of context switching for your brain. The more you keep changing locations, the more time and energy you’re using up. Scheduling tasks in batches on your roaming to-do-list can definitely help you get more from your time on the road and in the office.

This approach of plotting out your ‘ideal’ week can definitely give your productivity a lift. But having said this, there’s no point getting too fixated on this idea of perfection in how your week ‘should’ be. Being effective also comes from flexibility. Resisting or avoiding something unexpected that comes up can be just as much of a drain on your time and energy as multitasking. It’s about getting the balancing right between planning and pivoting, protecting the time you’ve put aside to focus on something and just getting on and dealing with things you couldn’t have planned.

5. Be time and energy smart

Finally, two of the most important insights to remember about working smarter are:

From these two pearls of wisdom come a whole bunch of tactics you can use to help your time go further at work. One is to pick the time of day when you tackle certain tasks to coincide with your peak focus and energy. For some of us, an hour of power in the morning is when we smash out a decent chunk of our work for the day. Earlier in the day is also the best time to tackle something you’re feeling less than confident about. If it’s something that has you worried, make it a priority as it’ll just distract you and drain your energy until you’ve ticked it off the list.

Whether you’re at your most productive earlier or later in the day, it’s also important to know when to quit and disconnect from your to-do list. There will always be more to get done, which is why it’s important recognise when you’re spinning your wheels. We all reach a point of diminishing returns from what we’re putting in. There’s a good chance that coming back to a task the next day will see you get it done in half the time, instead of continuing to push through. And sometimes you don’t even need to leave things overnight. A ten minute burst of fresh air, a coffee, or drink of water could be just what your body and mind need to hit the reset button and return to your task refreshed and focused.

All of these are small changes to try out for a way of working that’s more conscious and focused on output rather than the hours you’re putting in. You might not take to all of these new routines, but it’s not about trying to force yourself into a habit that doesn’t fit with your way of working. Instead think of it as a chance to challenge your assumptions. By shaking things up a little, you could discover a brand new personal productivity hack that’s ideal for you.