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Simple and effective ideas for today’s multifamily professional.

3 Time Management Tools That Do the Trick

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”

 ― H. Jackson Brown Jr.- American Author

Where does the time go? Time can fly without wings. It can take away. It can give. Why do some days feel like an eternity, yet others slip away with the blink of an eye? Time is an expendable resource, but we all get the same 1,140 minutes in a day. I learned many years ago that time management is really life management. While a good plan can give you direction and freedom, a bad plan or no plan can leave you confused, panicked, and feeling helpless. One thing is certain, one size does not fit all when it comes to a time management plan. It is important to know your limitations and not let the system dictate your life. A great tool can quickly turn into something that causes more stress, and no one needs that!  

Time management is also an important business skill. In the 2016 IBM Institute for Business Value Global Skills Survey, executives placed a high value on digital and technical skills, yet two years later in 2018, the priority of critical skills turned from digital and technical, to behavioral. In the 2018 IBM Institute for Business Value Global Skills Survey, a willingness to adaptable to change, and time management skills took over the top slots.

If you are contemplating, “I don’t have time to learn about time management,” then it just might be the absolute perfect time. What are your biggest time management challenges? An article in Forbes.com titled The Top 10 Challenges in Time Management exposed some of the most common obstacles people face.

1. They don’t know what they want

2. They don’t know how to say no

3. They don’t feel satisfied when the job is done

4. They are easily distracted by things that aren’t important

5. They don’t have enough energy to finish the task

6. They procrastinate. They procrastinate. They procrastinate.

7. They don’t quit dead-end tasks soon enough

8. They don’t finish what they start

9. They operate in reactive mode

10. They are overwhelmed

Has this pandemic turned your time management and scheduling systems upside down? Maybe it has forced you to slow down, reflect, and evaluate time more than you ever have before? Do you grapple with scheduling? Do you struggle with overcommitting? Do you spar with distractions? Is it time to tweak your plan, or do you need a complete overhaul?

As mentioned above, one size does not fit all when it comes to organizing your daily activities, and there is no shortage of ideas or opinions. Type “time management systems” into your Google browser, and it will result in more than 2 billion search opportunities!

So, here are a few of my favorite time management systems and tools.

1. Timeboxing

Timeboxing is my absolute preferred approach to managing time! Timeboxing teaches you to allot a maximum amount of time for an activity. That unit of time is called a time box. The goal of timeboxing is to define and limit the amount of time dedicated to an activity. It is a time management technique used by Elon Musk, who works 80-90 hours per week. He splits his time between multiple companies, and he devotes four days a week to his family. Maybe he is superhuman, or maybe timeboxing works? Here is a very brief overview of the timeboxing approach:

  • Make a to-do-list
  • Estimate the time it will take to complete each activity.
  • Move your to-do-list into your calendar planner while boxing out the amount of time you have estimated to complete each task. Make sure you place the tasks which require more brainpower when you are at your peak.
  • Box out breaks in your schedule—break for coffee, call a friend, take a walk, etc. I like to call these boxes “me time,” and I look forward to them each day.
  • Set a timer for each activity and document the actual time next to it. Eventually, this will not be necessary.
  • Evaluate each timebox. Did it require less or more time? How will you adjust tomorrow? Did you miss something on your list? Do you need to relocate this activity?

This is a very general example of timeboxing. Visit 12 Tips to Supercharge your Productivity—which will give you a more detailed, realistic, and practical approach to timeboxing. I recommend that you try it for one day. Just like anything else, you need to start slowly and practice.

TIP: If you would like to test this concept for a day, try the free iPhone app 30-30 which allows you to plan your day in 30- minute increments. Give it a try, and then let me know what you think of timeboxing!

2. Use a Planner

Use a Planner: Benjamin Franklin once pronounced, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” If you are going to manage your time, you need a planning tool—a place to document your activities, goals, meetings, etc.  Erin Condren’s Life Planner is my guilty pleasure, but you need to find a planner that works for you. While many people use technology to manage their schedule, I am still a pen and paper kind of girl! Here are a few effective and popular pen and paper planners.

  • The Whistle and Birch planner is a beautiful customizable planner with a variety of layouts to choose from.
  • Some tools are simply born out of necessity. Check out the Pandaplanner, designed and founded by Michael Leip, who was hampered by Lyme Disease, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and most recently, cancer. He offers a simple approach to planning your day and week.
  • If you are more of a blank page with a high creative flair, you might consider dabbling in the world of Bullet Journals. Just like anything else, you need to try it on and see if it fits. I learned very quickly that I am not wired for the Bullet Journal world, but I am in awe of those who manage it so well while creating a beautiful piece of art.

TIP: Find a system or tool that you love. Write everything down. Make sure it is mobile. Take it with you wherever you go.

3. Maximize Time Gaps

Maximize Time Gaps: This pandemic has placed everyone in a certain frazzled state. Many of us are operating at max capacity, yet I believe that we still have an opportunity to recapture some of those 1,440 minutes in our day and use it for something good and productive. When you realize you have a few extra minutes, instead of giving into the urge to check the news headlines, YouTube videos, Facebook, etc., choose to remove something from your to-do-list. While it might not sound like fun at the time, removing a task from your list will reduce your stress load and leave you with a feeling of accomplishment.

Ask yourself, “What can I do with this time gap?”

  • Can I schedule dentist appointments on the way to work after I drop my kids off at school?
  • Can I wake up an hour earlier on Wednesday to work on the kids’ closets?
  • Can I drop the clothes off at Goodwill on my way home from work?
  • Can I use my voice recorder to start brainstorming ideas for my next work project while driving to work?
  • Can I start boxing out my list for next week while I am making dinner on Wednesday?
  • Can I listen to my favorite book on Audible in the car during my commute?

Consider how much you can accomplish during activities that might seem mundane. Use your time gaps to remove a little stress in your day.

Tip: Intentionally locate your time gaps. We tend to have a lot of down-time in waiting rooms, lines at the store, time in the car, on the treadmill at the gym, etc. Look up a recipe for dinner, draft a few emails, pay a bill, listen to a podcast, etc. Take the “wasted time” mentality and transform it into something useful and a brief moment to look forward to.

When you manage your 1,440 minutes well, you can get more done with less effort. I hope that fact alone will inspire you to review your current approach to time management. A small change can be life changing, and you don’t need to perfect your plan before it will improve your life. As Winston Churchill once stated, “It is better to do something than nothing while waiting to do everything.” 

Finally, don’t get so caught up in busyness that you forget to enjoy what you are doing. Arrange your commitments in a way that you find joy in your day, even while you are working. Treat yourself by boxing out small bites of “me time” throughout your day—drink that coffee, eat that chocolate bar, watch that funny video, take a walk. Know yourself. Make a plan. Be flexible.

Enjoyment should always be the goal in your 1,440 minute day!

Click here to access additional COVID-19 Multifamily Training Resources

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Contributed by:

Maria Lawson
Learning Strategy Consultant, Edge2Learn

Passionate about generational research, Maria has played a leading role in the apartment industry for over 25 years. Maria has worked with Ellis, Partners in Management Solutions since 2007, writing and designing training materials focused on teaching the on-site teams how to understand and work with their colleagues and customers of all generations.  She applies her insight into generational differences to develop training for Edge2Learn that is relevant to the four unique generations now in the workplace

Maria’s career started with Lincoln Property Company, where she held almost every onsite position over a span of 16 years, earning the Vice President of Marketing and Training.

Maria has earned her Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) certification.  She attended Broward Community College in Florida and Kaiser Paralegal College in Florida.


Edge2Learn is an eLearning company whose focus is the Property Management Industry and specializes in property management training and multifamily education. With over 30 years of experience and a commitment to increase industry excellence, we are passionate about engaging learners to maximize benefits for both companies and employees. Aligned with a well-respected industry leader, Ellis, Partners in Management Solutions, the Edge2Learn platform provides a turnkey solution for clearly identified needs and opportunities. We prepare learners to deliver a superior customer experience and also reduce corporate liability risks and overall employee turnover.

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