Did you know that the average office worker is interrupted every three minutes and it takes an average of 23 minutes to refocus? So if you were wondering why your tasks are taking so long to complete or why you’re not being very productive, well this might be why. And being productive is super important for property managers with huge workloads and even bigger responsibilities. And yet it’s one thing that is rarely taught or addressed in modern property management offices. Now, when you think of productivity, what do you think? For me, it’s being focused to get through my to-do list with minimal distractions. Productivity by definition is a measure of how efficiently a person completes a task and productivity plays a crucial role in the overall success of any company. Latest research on productivity reveals some staggering statistics. The average office worker is productive for less than three hours a day and only 7% of workers consider themselves productive during official office work hours, and happiness in the workplace has been shown to boost productivity by 12%. Now, a lack of productivity in the workplace leads to a number of issues for individuals and businesses, including elevating stress levels. It also deflates morale and increases conflict as well as causing a lack of business growth, poor customer service, and reduces income.

Now, if your business is struggling with productivity, never fear, I have some help here for you. My guest today is here to talk you through some really simple actionable ways to help you get up and running more efficiently and productively. Leah Selfe or the Productivity Queen as she is known by her clients and audience, is what is called a productivity assistant. And she helps your business to grow and expand by opening you up to automating and streamlining your business with systems and processes. She’ll help you stop wasting time on the tasks that take you away from what you do best and free you up to be able to focus on important tasks like, customer service. In our conversation she talks about her five steps for getting your weak organised, how to stop being a slave to your emails, yes please! And how to set boundaries to create that work life integration we are all craving.

 

THE MAKINGS OF A PRODUCTIVITY QUEEN

‘What I generally do on a day basis is help businesses to refine their processes, implement effective systems, and create automation, to help them grow an efficient and sustainable business. So essentially when you break it all down, I basically help women in business to get stuff done, if we want to put it bluntly like that. So nice and easy, nice, and simple. The reason I got started in my business was I was one of the very unfortunate few that was made redundant during Covid. I was working previously in the events conferencing and travel world, which as you could imagine moving into Covid wasn’t going to go anywhere too quickly. And I was very realistic about what potentially was going to happen over the next couple years. So, I knew that I had to make a pivot, love that word, into what was potentially going to help me further down the track. So I had started out as a virtual assistant and working with couple of friends, neighbors, helping out with their admin just to get an idea if that’s something that I wanted to do long term. I loved helping people think a little differently, think outside the box and create strategies that they may not have thought of, and that is where the Productivity Queen was born.’

 

THE FAIRY GOD MOTHER OF PRODUCTIVITY

‘Sometimes people do associate with like that magic wand touch of, oh, just come in and fix everything. But to me it was more about educating. So, I never really come into working with the client or into a business and say, everything you’re doing is wrong. We need to redo everything. I like to come in more as an awareness piece. So what are you currently doing? What are you hoping to achieve with the business? And then find out what that disconnect is and out how we can then use what you’re currently doing and refine it, simplify so that you’re spending more time on the doing and I’m more on the thinking about doing.’

 

TOP PRODUCTIVITY HACKS

‘I think when it comes to your inbox, there’s that big transition between having an inbox that’s overflowing and then everyone goes, just go inbox zero, just clear everything at the end of the day and everything will be fine. I personally have an issue with that because the way that I work is that if it’s in my inbox, it needs to be actioned. And generally, that means that sometimes that action list gets quite long, and then you start looking at it and you’re like, how am I going to get to everything? How am I going to make everything work? The easiest thing that I teach a lot of my clients to do is start with the things that only going to take two to minutes to action, especially if it’s in bulks. Try to tackle about 10 to 20 emails a day. Now if your inbox is getting into the hundreds and the thousands, we may have to have a different conversation about how you can reorganize it. But if you’re finding that the emails that are coming into your inbox that can be easily actioned, I would just do it. Take the two to three minutes and just action it, get it off your plate. The more you procrastinate about doing it, the longer it sits there and the bigger the problem. So, it’s almost about going, having a quick read through, skim through, is there anything that I can do in this 15-minute time between finishing up with this client call and going to meet with a client? Is there something that I can tackle in this 15 minutes? Breaking that down and going, cool, I reckon I could get through four or five emails quickly, get them done and hand it over.’

‘So, it’s not about trying to tackle everything at once, it’s about trying to break it down into more manageable chunks. So, you may also look at creating time throughout your day that you dedicate in your calendar. So, whether that’s now 30 in the morning after you kind of do your morning debrief, it might be as you come back from lunch. And then it could be just as you have your afternoon tea or coffee, before you end the day. So, whatever’s going to work best for you just to again break down those manageable is probably the best way. Another way is to get really clear on how your week looks and how you integrate a more seamless flow, and I educate my clients on this as well. It’s doing what I call Sunday set up for success. So, I guarantee you that at any point anybody has a good half an hour to five minutes on a Sunday, remember aimlessly scrolling through Instagram reels and just generally wasting time. I tell people there’s five steps to it and it should only take you half an hour to 45 minutes. The first thing I want you to do is I want you to look forward to your week and brain dump everything, everything that you possibly need to do for the business, for yourself personally, the kids, any commitments you have with family and friends, dinners, lunches, appointments, all those kinds of thing. Once you’ve done that, I want you time how long it takes to complete those. Now when you say for example, my son does basketball on Monday, the game itself only goes for about 25, 30 minutes, but it takes me a good 15 minutes to get there. I’ve got to be there about 10 minutes before; we normally hang around for about 10 minutes cause he wants to hang with the boys. And then it takes me around 15 minutes to get home. So realistically that 20 minute half an hour game has now turned into about an hour, an hour and 15 minutes. So instead of me saying to myself, I’m going to allocate 25 minutes, half an hour for the game I need allocate my actual time, travel, all that consideration, once you’ve allocated all the time to your task, and I know that sound a bit daunting, but once you’ve allocated the time and you allocate when those bits and pieces are going to be, so Monday night is footy, every Thursday I know I have a client meeting that goes in there. You can then start getting a much clearer picture of exactly what your week looks like and how you actually want to have that flow to your week. And you can then start reassessing whether things are taking too much time, whether you’re spending too much time on things. So, it’s about just being a little bit more aware of what your week looks like and how you can tackle everything.’

‘So, brain dump is the first one. Assigning the times is the second one. Assigning your due dates is the third. Then laying it out in the week what it visually looks like. And that could be a weekly planner, like a paper version and it could be in your Google or Outlook calendar. And then the fifth one is actually assessing it to see if it’s too much or if it’s the flow that you’re actually after. So being a little bit more high level visual of what your week looks like.’

 

BREAKING DOWN TIME MANAGEMENT

‘I love time blocking. Time blocking is my number one thing to do. The easiest way to do that and sometimes it might be a little bit difficult in an industry that might be a little bit more ad hoc in regard to meetings and going to property viewings and things like that. But I guess it comes down to recreating those boundaries if you decide that it’s too complicated to have certain things happen at a certain time. So certain client meetings or certain property viewings, I would say to reassess your boundaries, reassess what is actually important, where things need to be blocked in. So, and for example, my real estate, they only do property management viewings on certain days. That makes it easy for them when they’re booking them in. It also makes it easier for them when they’ve got other things that they need to work on. So it’s all about going, okay, well if I have all of these things that need to take place throughout the entire week, I need to be held responsible for when those actually happen. So, I’m going to create that boundary that if you want to book an appointment in with me, it has to be done within these times. If I need to go out and view a property, I can only do it between these times. It may take a little bit of time to get used to, especially if you are used to a bit more of a flow and you’re a bit more reactive to it. But creating that structure like that and those boundaries around when things occur allow you to be more predictable to a certain extent. You know when things are going to be available when things are going to happen. It also means that when you’re waking up, you’re not like, oh my gosh, what have I got happening today? Am I doing viewings? Am I taking client meetings? Like you kind of know cool, well on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday, they’re the only days that I do property viewings. So when I wake up, I should expect that I will have a couple of property viewings today. If I don’t, then I can use that time more effectively to follow up on the emails that are banking up in the inbox. Do I need to do lead chasing, so you can then use that time more effectively when it’s already allocated.’

 

DOES WORKING FROM HOME INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY?

‘We work in such a, a world these days where communication deliverables, the way we engage, the way we interact, the way we deliver our service, and in most cases as well, that the way we deliver products can be done online, can be done virtually. So there really isn’t a need to feel like you need to be attached to your desk from Monday to Friday, nine to five. And I think especially in an industry like property where there’s a lot of output, there’s a lot of going to appointments, there’s a lot of going to viewings, there’s a lot of managing things that are outside of your office. I think it also comes down to a point where having a conversation with your boss and making them realize sometimes that output that you’re doing where things are always constantly on the outside of the business, especially if it’s a brick and mortar business, means that you should have the flexibility of going, Okay, well if I’m going to go to this particular suburb and I have two or three viewings, is there an opportunity for me to then work in between that at a cafe or is it close to home and I can duck home and do that work? So, it’s almost about using that time more effectively and it’s going to take you 20 minutes to get to your viewing and then 20 minutes to come back to then an hour later do a similar, you know, transit time. Is there any way that you can combine that and use those pockets of time more effectively? And I think that’s where some people have already started thinking that way, but I think sometimes people need to at least nudge that conversation in the right direction.’

 

PRODUCTIVITY FOR BETTER CUSTOMER SERVICE

‘I think the biggest thing that I start with is what does the service deliverability looks like. So whatever service you are offering, how do you actually deliver that? And I want you to start thinking about if this is how I have to deliver it, what are the steps that I need to do in order to make that happen? And it always comes back to doing the stuff that makes you money, right? So having a look at how you structure your day and how you structure your day most effectively, and then looking at the systems that you’re currently using to make sure that that fits in with how you want to structure your day. If you are using multiple systems, you are switching between platforms and notebooks and post-it notes, all those little bits of time, all those tiny pockets of time are taking up time and space, especially mental clarity to actually complete something and be completely honed in on exactly how that’s going to be delivered to your clients. So, for me, it comes down to an awareness piece. I come in and I want people to be aware of what they think they’re delivering and then how they’re delivering it. And if there is a disconnect there, figuring out how we can refine what they’re currently doing to make sure that connection is much more stable. Allowing them to be a lot clearer on what that outcome is. And I think the biggest difference is for some business owners, and I was similar in this similar situation, we create this idea of how we think our customer experience wants to be, and then we build our business to make sure that that is the customer experience that we’re delivering. The problem is a lot of people do that and then they suddenly forget. So they’re not constantly reviewing, is that working? Is that growing? Is that growing our audience? Is that actually making an impact? Are we delivering on what we say we’re going to be delivering on? So again, that awareness piece, what are we currently doing? Where do we want the business to be? And seeing where those gaps are in between.’

‘At the end of the day, without customers and without repeat clients or generating new clients, you don’t have an income. You can go out and manage, do property viewings until the cows come home. But if you’re not actually getting people into those, those properties, if you’re not actually getting owners to become part of your property portfolio, then you have to work. So, in order to refine and perfect what you sell, you need to almost go completely back and figure out exactly how do you want that journey to look, what does that customer experience look like? Until you figured that out, you’re not going to have referrals and repeat situations. You’re going to be constantly figuring out why you’ve got a retention problem, why you’re finding it hard to convert leads cause you’re not a hundred percent sure and exactly what that customer experience looks like and how you can do it in the most impactful way.’

Bella