Batching for Better Efficiency

I love baking cookies. I love the simplicity of it. You follow the recipe and you get a tasty treat.

Baking for Christmas requires a certain skill though that can be applied to your work as a real estate executive assistant: batching.

You see, I like baking several different kinds of cookies and the most efficient way to do that is to mix up all the different kinds of dough first and then cook them. So I’m batching the mixing of the ingredients and I’m batching together the process of baking them in the oven.

If I were to mix together one cookie and then bake them, then move on to mixing together the ingredients for the next cookie and baking those, it would take much longer. There’s more clean-up between batches and it would just wear on me faster.

So as you’re moving through your day, I want you think about what similar things you can batch together with the intention of increasing productivity and decreasing distractions.

When I was the lone assistant on the team, I would spend my mornings working on listings and marketing, and my afternoons on processing transactions. I’d transition between the two mentally by taking a lunch break.

This batching method really served me well because there’s a certain mindset that I had to create within my brain in order to operate more efficiently.

For example, when putting a new listing on the market, it is fastest for me to be able to follow my listing checklist from beginning to end. The checklist is laid out so that the most important tasks (like putting the home into the MLS and setting up the showing instructions) are at the top. And, I can time myself on how long it takes to complete the checklist so that I can gauge how many homes I can put on the market in a day. Then I can move to the next listing with ease because I already have the correct tabs open on my computer for putting homes on the market.

For processing transactions in the afternoon, that’s a little more chaotic. Each transaction is in a different stage. Which means each time I receive an email regarding a transaction, I would have to determine what stage the transaction was in and what relevant information I needed to get out of the email. That doesn’t take long when you have three pending transactions, but it’s an entire day’s work when you have thirty pending transactions! Batching all my transaction work together allowed me to move quickly between transactions, because again, I had all the correct tabs open at the same time.

Batching is very much like the opposite of multi-tasking. Batching lets you stay on one plane, and even though you may have a stopover, you’re still on the same plane.

Multi-tasking or choosing not to batch your activities is like taking a plane that stops at multiple locations, and you have to get off the current plane in order to find your next plane, get on that one and then do that several times until it’s time to go home. You’ll get some work done, but it’s not the most efficient way possible (and you’re likely to lose your luggage too!).

Here’s a list of some things you could batch together for greater efficiency:

  • Listings
  • Closings
  • Marketing – create all your social media posts at the same time and schedule them to go out during the week
  • Projects like updating the website or planning an event
  • Meetings – see if you can put all your meetings into one or two days so you can full days that aren’t interrupted by meetings
  • Errands – if you have to leave the office, what other stops can you can make to maximize your time out of the office?
  • Email
  • Phone calls – Communicating by phone takes a different state of mind than communicating by email. Get into a space mentally where your goal is to friendly, supportive, and results-oriented and then make your phone calls. It’s easier to maintain that state of mind than to conjure it up at various times throughout the day.
  • Database cleanup – I recommend this weekly. See who’s been added to the database in the last week and make sure the agents are entering notes, assigning plans or marketing campaigns, and scheduling follow-ups.
  • Cleaning your office

Now that you have an idea for what activities you’ll group together, then next step is to simply put these batches on your calendar as a time block.

What’s interesting to consider, is making your time blocks a bit more static. Could you implement a standard on your team that states new listings go into MLS on Mondays and Wednesdays between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM? Your agent sets that expectation with the seller and you make it happen.

Leave a comment! What are you currently batching together, and what new thing can you start batching to increase your productivity?

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