Do You Have A "Waiting" Section In Your Life?
Written by David Lowrey, Owner of Stress Free Property Management
Running a Riverview Property Management Company requires a tremendous amount of delegation and attention to detail. Years ago, I came across a book by David Allen titled “Getting Things Done…the art of stress-free productivity.” I have a habit that I call “My Random Walk of Inspiration” where I periodically read or listen to an audio book on a subject I’ve not studied in years. Well back in 2002, I was looking for a book, and realized I hadn’t read anything in years on organization skills. So, I found this book and read it.
The book changed my entire professional career as a Riverview Property Manager. I went from running a small business working 70 or 80 hours a week, never feeling like I got anything substantial done, and hating my work, to working 35 hours a week, getting 3 or 4 times as much work done, and loving my business. How did that happen?
Well the book taught me a ton of best practices on getting organized and more importantly processing my work through a system. To be honest, I now work about 50 hours a week, but that is because I have exciting projects that I choose to work on.
I highly recommend you read this book, but I would like to explain one of his concepts that I use regularly and have taught to most of my staff over the years. It is the concept of a “Waiting File” or “Waiting Outlook Section.” What is that? Sounds weird doesn’t it?
David Allen explained a very simple concept. Most people, do not do what they say they are going to do, when they say they are going to do it, if at all. In other words, when you assign work to people they will miss the deadline or forget about it completely 75% of the time. This doesn’t make them bad people. It means they have poor organizational systems.
One of the system he taught me was this Concept of a Waiting file. When I assign work to someone by email or in person, and it has a real deadline to it, I record the task assignment in an Outlook task and put in my Waiting Section. I schedule the task on the day after the deadline is due. First thing in the morning I review my Waiting tasks and do the following:
1) Complete the task because it is done already
2) Move the task forward to a new deadline because I already know the reason why it is delayed
3) Change the task from a Waiting Task to an Email or Meeting Task and follow-up with the person
It sounds simple and is why most people won’t do this. But, if you try it, I think you will be amazed. You will be amazed how often things are dropped. You will be amazed at how much you can delegate and ensure that it all gets done. If the person drops a task, you haven’t and will remind them to pick it back up. This is a very simple way to hold people accountable, and also track the important things you are waiting on others to do.
For example, I asked Iris my assistant to type up a new addedum to insert in our residential lease. We agree that 2 weeks should be more than enough to complete this task. I create an Outlook task detailing this assignment and schedule it two 2 weeks and 1 day out from today. I put the task in a Category called Waiting, and I forget about it.
This is another powerful benefit that you don’t realize, until you start working it. You stop worry about tasks you’ve assign to others, because you know you will be reminded to check on it at a certain time. Your brain can stop reminding you through the days and weeks and can just relax and concentrate on whatever you are doing, at the moment.
I could go on and on, but I highly recommend you check out David Allen’s books. There are a bunch more best practices that he teaches which are also incredibly powerful and beneficial.