3 Time-Saving Tips for Busy Building Managers
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
by: Duthie Power Services

Section: Member News

The elevator’s stuck, the A/C needs a filter change, your staff is frantically cleaning up a spill, someone’s complaining about a “funny smell” in their workroom, and as the building manager, you’re on the hook for making everything better ASAP. Sound familiar? 

Let a few frantic days pile up like this, and many building managers find themselves running to put out fires (metaphorically, that is – though you might find yourself dealing with literal fires too!) So this week, we’ve got three timesaving tricks to help you prevent fires instead. Practicing these three strategies will leave you with more time, energy, and tenants confident about their building and its reliable, quick-acting manager!

Document & Identify Time-Sucking Activities

“Never mistake motion for action.” Ernest Hemingway

We all complain about being too busy, but classic American author Ernest Hemingway reminds us that being busy isn’t the same as being effective. Efficiency comes from using your time well, so the first step towards a less frazzled workday is a “time-audit.”  

Take a day and an hour-by-hour schedule sheet (or your phone’s calendar app). Immediately after finishing each activity, jot it down in your calendar. Make sure to note how much time each activity took: perhaps the impromptu hallway conversation was actually 10 minutes long instead of five, or maybe the A/C filter change only took up half the time you predicted.  At the end of the day, your calendar should contain a blow-by-blow record of how you spent your entire 8+ hours.  Repeat for a week, then review. This documentation will give you a breakdown of how you spend your time – perhaps small tasks take longer than you thought, or you end up in too many interesting side-conversations, or you end up doing things that really should be done by one of your team members. 

You’ll know best once you see the patterns; this will help you “cut the fat” from your schedule so you can allocate more time to the things that matter. 

Speaking of which… 

Set Monthly, Weekly, & Daily Priorities

“Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker

You almost certainly have a mental list of the “right things” you need to do…but a list that exists only in your mind has a couple of issues. Most importantly, our brains tend to forget things. If you’re a building manager, you probably don’t forget important things (because you overcompensate by thinking of them too much!) but, due to the mental space that those major issues take up, little things can slip out unnoticed. (That is, until the elevator light goes out on someone or a spill isn’t cleaned up almost before it happens. Then you’ll be forcibly reminded, which isn’t a fabulous system.)

Get those priorities out of your head and onto paper or (even better!) into an organization app such as Evernote, ToDoist, or even your phone’s Notes app. Once your tasks are in front of you, arrange them according to urgency. For example, routine check-ups of your power generator and HVAC system are essential, but they aren’t nearly as urgent as whatever’s causing the current mysterious odor wafting through the open office. With your list, you’ll be able to take care of your immediate responsibilities without losing sight of the more important, less “obvious” ones.

Now that you can see your tasks in front of you, they’ll take up less real estate in your head and you can finally arrange them in an order that makes sense to you. Remember – listing and prioritizing isn’t a one-time exercise; do it at the beginning of each day to help you take care of the right things at the right time. 

Preventative Maintenance Is Your Best Friend

“My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.” Francine Jay

Francine is right: to stop eternal busyness (at cost of true efficiency), we need to cut out unnecessary effort. For building managers, the most effective way to limit these unneeded tasks (as well as unwelcome drama, bills, and lost time) is to follow a robust preventative maintenance schedule for every major building system. This schedule’s backbone must include regular professional inspections of your building systems, in addition to any necessary tune-ups & troubleshooting. Some major systems that need regular professional TLC include your HVAC system, your elevator(s) and your backup power generators.

Thank you to Duthie Power Services, a 2020 BOMA San Diego Annual Supporting Partner, for providing this educational content!