“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”
—William Penn, philosopher and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania
Ah, teenagers. Just like hearing “It looks like typhoid” or “60 Minutes is calling,” the mere mention of the word “teenager” strikes trepidation into even the most stalwart individuals. How could that happy, bubbly bundle of joy have turned so quickly into someone who thinks I'm an idiot and my primary function is to act as an ATM? I hate to think I might have been such a thorn in the sides of my loving parents.
Of everything I’m attempting to teach my 17-year-old before he’s unleashed onto an unsuspecting world, establishing time-management skills is proving to be one of the most difficult. An otherwise very intelligent young man simply cannot grasp the idea that there are only so many hours per day, and how you manage that time says a lot about your abilities, commitment and work ethic. No matter ... He’s is an effective practitioner of procrastination, inefficiency and laziness.
These characteristics remind me of some self-storage managers I’ve encountered over the years. The learned skills my teenager can use to improve his time management are the same ones a facility manager can use to improve his productivity. Following are tips to help you become the most efficient manager possible.
Document Daily Tasks
As American author H. Jackson Brown Jr. once said, “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein.” I conduct a good deal of manager training throughout the year, and one key area of focus is time management. I start by asking managers how many units they rented in the previous month as well as vacates, truck rentals, locks sales, etc. I then ask how long it takes to complete each task.
Whatever the consensus is, I add more time. For example, if the managers say it takes 15 to 20 minutes to lease a unit, I increase that time to 30 minutes. As we add up how long it takes to conduct all these tasks during any given month, we always have the same outcome: There are about two to three hours per day for which we cannot account.
Once I demonstrate to my students that they have plenty of time to do their job well and on time, I give them some homework, asking them to document their work activities every 30 minutes over the next 30 days. For example, they need to write down what they do from 9-9:30, 9:30-10, 10-10:30, etc. While I have no way to ensure who completes the exercise, I've had enough feedback from managers and their supervisors to know it works. One manager told me the exercise “changed her life,” as it transformed how much she now enjoys her job. Knowing how to do your job and do it well really does make a difference in one’s attitude.
Having worked with hundreds of self-storage managers over the years, I’ve watched and learned from the very worst to the very best. Invariably, there are skills and practices the best managers use to manage their time. How do they complete their work and "get it all done" the right way? Let’s explore.
Be Productive During Down Time
For starters, effective managers make better use of their down time. Just about every self-storage manager can easily handle the busy days. They can rent six or eight units, handle a few truck rentals and sell some merchandise like they’re in "a zone." The day goes by quickly, and after work, they have a real sense of accomplishment. But the key to time management isn’t being efficient during busy days, it’s making good use of down time.
Highly effective self-storage managers make sure there are always plenty of lease packets ready. They prepare the truck-rental paperwork throughout the week instead of waiting until Saturday morning. They keep up with their e-mail marketing efforts and conduct regular lock checks to quickly address any discrepancies. Highly effective managers make sure they have two or three rent-ready units of each size always available to show. They check voicemail and print their vacant-space list before the first customer comes in each day.