The subject of productivity is one that most people in the property management industry struggle with. In fact, it’s the very reason we created this blog. Over the past several months we’ve touched on a number of different strategies and techniques that are aimed at improving productivity and efficiency. Well, we’ve come across another that is worth highlighting.
It’s called the “touch it once” philosophy and it’s being touted as an incredibly powerful technique, particularly for busy property management professionals.In our business, it’s all about cycles. Each month we face the same tasks, in the same order, at the same time as the previous month. Yet, somehow, even though we are familiar with these tasks and can anticipate that they are coming, it still often seems as though we’re chasing our tails and wasting precious time in the process. The problem is, as property management professionals, we are being pulled in so many directions, it’s easy to get distracted and have to keep returning to our tasks over and over until we finally get them done. Or, sometimes it’s just a matter of plain old procrastination.
Let’s say you get an email and read it, but before you reply to that email you notice there are a dozen or so other emails that need to be attended to. You close the original email in order to tackle the others. The problem is, when you eventually go back to the original email you have to read it all over again before you can formulate your response. Without even realizing it, you’ve just doubled the amount of time and effort for one simple task. Unfortunately, given the hectic nature of our line of work, this is something that occurs all too frequently.
The touch it once (TIO) philosophy hinges on the concept that if we train ourselves to focus on one task at a time, and hold ourselves accountable for either finishing that task or determining how to handle it before we move on, we will get a lot more done in a much more efficient manner, thereby improving productivity. By making a conscious effort to touch every task only once, you can eliminate wasted time and effort. TIO doesn’t necessarily mean we have to tackle every single task as it pops up, but rather it helps to organize your tasks in a way that will be most efficient. In other words, this theory helps you to decide immediately what action to take, whether it’s to take care of the task, delegate it, or add it to your task manager.
The touch it once technique works as follows:
1) First, ask yourself the question of whether or not you are able to touch something just once at that particular moment. You may be too busy or may not have the resources you need at that time to handle that specific task.
2) Assess the task.
3) Determine if you can deal with that particular item quickly (the general rule of thumb is between 2-5 minutes). During this time you must decide what to do with that particular task.
- Complete it
- Delegate it to someone else
- Add it to your task manager (this is typically for items that require more in-depth attention)
Not only can this concept be applied to each of your employee’s own task lists, but it can also be implemented on a larger scale to improve processes for your organization on a whole. Think in terms of establishing best practices – when you establish the best, most efficient way to complete a task, create a checklist or instruction sheet that can be used by yourself or anyone else on your team in the future. Over time, this becomes a detailed roadmap that allows procedures to flow much more smoothly, eliminating redundancies and improving efficiency.
When it comes to developing strategies to improve your organization’s productivity, there are dozens of different methods you can apply. The touch it once philosophy is one such method – a powerful tool that, when combined with technology and software solutions, is helping to revolutionize our industry.
Have you employed the TIO technique in your business? What tips, tricks or suggestions would you offer to others who are considering this strategy? Please share them in the comments below.
Find out what more you can do to boost the productivity of your property management business. Download a free copy of The Property Manager’s Guide to Maximizing Productivity.