Get Organized!

By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine

Real estate offers practitioners a great deal of freedom. But sometimes, this flexibility can prove overwhelming for salespeople who lack organizational skills. Organizing for Success (South-Western Educational Publishing, 2001; $14.95.) by Holly Johnson, part of South-Western Thomson Learning’s “Quick Skills” series, is a fast-paced workbook that real estate professionals can use to get back on the time management track. It’s also a great training tool or discussion-starter for sales meetings, with worksheets and exercises that brokers can use to teach salespeople or assistants how to become more productive and improve their earnings.

The book offers concrete guidelines for arranging your work area, your files, and your life. It’s divided into a series of “workshops,” each offering a story that illustrates the point of the chapter, a series of tips, online links to related Web sites, a chapter summary, and worksheets to hone your time management skills. Organizing for Success’s modular nature makes it easy to focus on specific problem areas. The book includes seven workshops:

  • “Making Organization Work for You” provides an introduction to organization, including the benefits of better organization and basic strategies, such as list-making.
  • “Personality and Organization” links personality and order, explaining why some people are naturally neat freaks and other are slobs. Additionally it provides strategies for coping with differences in coworkers’ organizational styles.
  • “Obstacles to Organization” teaches readers how to deal with productivity killers such as procrastination, interruptions, and delays.
  • “Organizing Your Workspace” explains how to create and maintain a neat desk space, including tips on creating and managing a file system.
  • “Time Management” shows how to analyze your work habits, then rearrange your schedule to make yourself more productive.
  • “Organizing Project” centers around project management.
  • “Organizing You Computer” spotlights an often-overlooked area for organization, showing how to simplify your desktop, as well as providing a few troubleshooting tips.

If you’re a manager frustrated by the messy desk of your top producer or your assistant, Workshop 2, “Personality and Organization” might be especially beneficial. The chapter shows how different personality types influence organizational styles and how time management and organizational systems can be adapted to different personality traits. Some general tips for dealing with chronically disorganized workers include encouraging them to stay focused on priorities, making copies of important documents if a coworker might lose them, and tactfully sharing personal organizational strategies.

The workshop also includes a brief overview of common personality types and then demonstrates strategies to aid each type in becoming more organized. For instance, artisans are highly creative, but also highly unorganized. Since these people respond well to sensory stimuli, writing reminder notes on brightly colored paper or enclosing documents in colored folders can stimulate their memory. (Managers will also want to check up on these workers often.) Guardians, on the other hand, are hyper-organized and sometimes just plain hyper. These individuals take on too much at once, putting themselves in constant motion and making it hard to get work completed on schedule. Setting several smaller deadlines for a project can ensure better workflow.

The book also contains several workshops that deal with personal productivity, such as “Workshop 3: Obstacles to Organization” and “Workshop 5: Time Management.” Among the tips to overcome roadblocks to organization are to:

  • Analyze each task before you start, so that you know exactly what tools or information you need and how they should be organized.
  • Put away items as you complete a task.
  • Create a task list or schedule with allotted times for carrying out each task. Place a check mark next to high-priority tasks.
  • Put aside a little bit of time each day to getting your area organized.

Even some people who keep their desks relatively clean can’t seem to get their act together when it comes to their virtual desktops. These individuals computer desktops are cluttered with icons and their folders are stuffed with nonsensical file names. To stay organized, give files clear, logical names, with a minimum of abbreviations. Group related files in your directory by giving them a common naming prefix. Include dates if the titles/descriptions are similar; not only can this refresh your memory, but an assistant or a coworker might need to obtain a document or information when you’re out at a showing. Also use folders and subfolders to organize your document files. (Most programs allow you to color code your computer files for easy organization.) You can also use folders to save important e-mails so that you don’t have to scroll through a long list of names to find an important message.

Whether you’re trying to pick up better organization habits or need a easy-to-follow tool for training disorganized assistants or salespeople, Quick Skills: Organizing for Success, offers the tools to help readers manage the freedom that comes with a career in real estate.

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This post was contributed exclusively for REALTOR® Magazine.

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