I’m going to make a not-so-bold assumption. Ready?! Here it goes:
You’re a very busy person.
I make this assumption because the nature of our business requires us to constantly be on our toes, continuously change direction, and know the intimate details of our projects and deals. Don’t worry, I’m not lamenting over this. It’s what makes real estate exciting! It just comes with the territory when we jump into the real estate game.
Effective time management was the name of the game for me this week because, even compared to most weeks, it was particularly busy. Hard deadlines, multiple projects in various stages, due diligence on new work—it was all there (and organized in a perfect storm that can only make for a busy week). So I wanted to try a new time management technique to organize my time in order to take on and complete all the work I set out to do.
I was originally going to write another piece. Frankly though, because this technique worked so well, I thought I’d share it right away. It’s not groundbreaking, revolutionary, or necessarily specific to us real estate professionals. But it did help me take on a mountain of projects this week.
If you want to take on more work, analyze that extra cash flow projection, or triple and quadruple check your existing deals, this technique could help you effectively manage your time.
It’s called the Pomodoro Technique.
The name is derived from a common kitchen timer found in Italian households that’s shaped like a tomato (see image above). You simply use a timer to structure 20-25 minute periods of work in intervals followed by scheduled breaks. Seriously, it’s really that simple!
While the technique is simplistic in design, it is also deeply rooted in psychology. The principals behind it—compiling tasks, scheduling specific work sessions, forced periods of rest and rewards—offer powerful ways to organize one’s workflow when faced with work on numerous scales, in various stages, and in tight intervals (sounds like the real estate game!).
The next time your to-do list is taller than a venti cup of coffee, set your timer to 20-25 minutes and clear out all distractions. Then, after the timer goes off, stop all work and take a quick five minute break. Use this break to reward yourself with a web surfing session (YouTube and ESPN are my favorites), a light snack, etc. Then repeat this cycle again.
The crux of the exercise is to be diligent about the structure. I found that five minutes could quickly turn into ten minutes and ten minutes could quickly turn into 20 minutes. By treating the timer like a rule and not an option, I learned to trust the exercise and not just “try” it.
Here’s what I took away from the exercise after using it for an entire week.
- I could track my progress more easily.
- It was strange at first, but I improved my workflow as I went along. I let fewer distractions get in my way.
- Since each block of time was limited to 20 minutes, I could easily get laser-focused on a specific issue, problem, or task (perfect if you have multiple projects you want to analyze, but are not sure where to start).
- Large tasks were much easier to understand and break down into smaller chunks because they were only worked on in a short period of time (which became consecutive short periods of time…and added up).
- The break periods were true breaks. Despite having a busy week, I didn’t feel guilty about my quick breaks because they were built into the system.
- In order to be a truly effective technique, I had to abide by the timer guidelines (no fudging it here and there).
I decided to deviate from specific content on real estate this week because I know how frustrating it can be to be ambitious about one’s work yet get a “deer in the headlights” feeling when tasks start to pile up. We all want to be everywhere, know everything, and not miss a beat. This technique gave me noticeable results in a short period of time. I hope it can do the same for you. If not, all it took was a timer and 25 minutes of your time. Good luck!