So, we’re here again, another month another newsletter article. What do I write? Simple, I open my pre-prepared list of ideas, choose the one I think is most meaningful for this month, and start typing words onto the page…
Preparation doesn’t have to be a dirty word, in fact it doesn’t have to even take a lot of work, but without it, you can bet your bottom dollar you won’t be at all organised.
As a landlord preparation is the ladder that will transport you from the ground floor of dis-organisation up into the heady heights of being organised. Here are just a few of the ways I can think of that being prepared will help you:
- Preparing a property for a new tenant to move in – saves a lot of time later on when they move out.
- Preparing your properties for a change in seasons – saves time and money later on when the back to back storms roll in.
- Preparing a business plan – helps you grow your company, grow your capital and eventually leave the market having made more money than you entered with.
I don’t need to prolong this list, it’s obvious that being prepared will save you time and money, but it’s something you need to just put a little thought into. The art of preparation necessitates you having to put time (and a little effort) aside before it is absolutely needed. An investment that pays dividends in the form of time saving and organisation.
In my experience landlords are busy people. So busy that most of you forgo planning and preparedness, instead preferring to react to things as and when they occur. If a law changes most of you would rather catch up on it in the months or weeks before it’s due to impact you than paying attention to it when it’s just a twinkle in the chancellor’s eye. With a little preparedness you could make a meaningful contribution towards new laws and policies that affect you instead of catching up on them as they’re about to change your world.
So, with that in mind, for those of you who really aren’t organised and who don’t prepare, here are the keys to the subtle art of being prepared. Use these to springboard yourself into a higher state of organisation:
Prepare by Gaining More Knowledge
Read more. You’ll read this advice time and again across our blog posts, but that’s because it works. If you want to be good at writing you need to read more of what you want to write. If you want to be a chef you have to read up on different cooking methods, ingredients and recipes. If you want to be a good landlord who is ahead of the curve you need to read more about being a landlord.
There are plenty of news aggregator apps and websites that will allow you to keep on top of property news or specific news niches that you’re interested in. Similarly, the NLA and RLA websites (soon to be the NRLA) are a great way to keep an eye on upcoming legislation. Follow people on Twitter that you trust and who are a good source of knowledge on something you want to know more about. Use the Google news app which will take note of what you search on Google (if you use the same log in) and will show you related news stories. (For instance, my Google news feed is always full of landlord and marketing stories!)
It isn’t a race against time. A slow immersion, a 30 minute daily read, building a habit around regularly reading up on things that impact you will see you building knowledge quite quickly. This knowledge is a form of preparedness. You can call on this knowledge to help and guide you any time it is relevant.
Prepare by Being More Productive
Use a diary or a calendar to plan activities out in advance and stick to what you’ve planned. Calendars aren’t just for planning meetings or excursions, use them to plan anything that needs 10 minutes or more of your time. Want to explore a new law that’s coming in? Book a slot in your diary to check it out. Want to explore ways to reduce your overheads? Book in an hour or more to go through your figures.
The idea is to assign a slot and an amount of time to everything and to stick to it. If you go over the allotted time, book in another slot to finish what you started. If you finish a task early move onto the next one or re-arrange your diary so you can keep working through things you’ve scheduled. This productivity method is called timeboxing and it works well for anyone who finds themselves constantly trying to catch up. You can use a paper diary or calendar or any of the (mostly free) electronic versions depending on your preferred method of working.
Bullet journaling is another effective method of getting stuff done. Everyone works differently, so while these two methods work for most, they may not work for you. If this is the case, invest the time it will take to find the productivity method that suits you. It will take time and you may try a few different methods before you find the right one, but when you do find it, total game changer.
Prepare by Keeping To-do’s on Your Radar
If you put a task off, re-schedule it. I know, sounds simple right? But we’re all guilty of not doing this from time to time. There are thousands of reasons why you might need to change your plans, the art of being prepared is to make sure that plan changes don’t push things off your radar. Don’t even let the words “I’ll re-schedule that later” cross your mind, re-schedule the minute you cancel.
If you need to schedule a task or meeting with someone else and don’t know when they’re available, schedule in the time to re-schedule the appointment, this stops it falling off your radar.
No excuses, whatever task you need to re-arrange should occupy a future slot in your diary or calendar the second you decide to re-arrange it. This is how organised people appear to be able to juggle multiple things without letting anything slip.
Prepare by Preventing Procrastination
Again, we’re only human. Procrastination is seen as a bad thing but sometimes it’s necessary. Sometimes you need a break, or you’ve booked in a task that you’re just not up to today. Sometimes you need to be in a certain frame of mind to accomplish the set task.
The problem comes when you allow yourself to keep pushing a task back until it turns out you’ve left it to the last minute. This is where you need to introduce a system that imposes procrastination limits.
Each time you put something off or re-schedule something put an exclamation mark next to the task. Make a rule that when a task gets 3 exclamation marks it MUST be done and can’t be re-scheduled again unless there is an absolute emergency that requires you to drop everything. The exclamation trick works for most people, but if you are a stubborn procrastinator and you need extra motivation to complete a task, set up a reward for completing a task you don’t want to do.
Prepare by … Preparing
Anything you can prepare or think about ahead of time will save you time in the long run. At the start of this post I said I had a document of blog post ideas. One day I sat for 30 minutes and came up with a list of potential topics and a few lines of context for each one, now for the next few months I don’t need to give this any thought. When a task comes up in my calendar to start pulling the newsletter together, I can just start writing. When you have a busy job, it is necessary to move between tasks quickly, the ability to just be able to get on with something saves so much time. So, prepare anything you can ahead of time. Book slots for inspections, spend time pre-preparing paperwork, anything you need to think about or make a decision on, do this ahead of time, it will save you more time in the long run.
Prepare by Reviewing
Regularly review what you’ve been doing. Be honest with yourself:
- Have you worked towards your goals?
- Are those goals still relevant?
- Are you getting enough time to work towards your goals?
- Is your productivity system working?
These are just a few of the questions you can use to start thinking about this. There’s no one set of questions that will work for everyone. Just really give your recent activity some thought and reflect on whether you’re getting to where you want to be. If you are then you’re on the right lines and you can keep doing what you’re doing. If not, then things need to change so you can work towards whatever is important to you.
Prepare by Getting Your Finances in Order
I could go into a lot of detail here, but it’s pretty obvious what’s needed to get your finances in order:
Get out of debt, or at least put a plan in place to get out of debt.
Put some savings aside for anything that comes out of left field.
As an owner of rental properties, it will benefit you to do this not only in your personal life but in your business life too.
Getting out of debt is always a smart move, it means more of your money is yours to keep. It is a very freeing feeling to be debt free. If you have properties this is easier said than done since most are mortgaged. Holding unmortgaged properties increases your rental yield and if you sell it makes the sale smoother and will allow you to keep more of the capital.
When you have a financial safety net it’s easier to recover if things go wrong. If you lose your job, you know you’ve got some savings to get you through, if something breaks you know you’ve got money to replace it. Same goes with your properties. If you have a property fund you know you’ll be able to weather last minute maintenance, non-payment of rent, void periods and any of the other issues that can befall a landlord.
Prepare by Paying Attention to Your Health
While we’re all a little concerned about our health at the moment, it is another one of those things that people tend to only fix when it goes wrong.
Just abiding by two simple rules – eat right, get some exercise – will mean you:
- Sleep better
- Have better overall health
- Lower your risk of heart disease
- Lower your risk of heart attack
- Lower stress
And these are just a few of the more obvious advantages.
I’m not a doctor so I’m not going to go on about it, you know it’s a good idea, you know it will help you, so just do it!
Paying attention to your health also involves going to see health care professionals when you need to, it takes time, it is sometimes unpleasant, but it saves lives. Pay attention to your health, even in the smallest of ways, and you’ll be far more prepared for life in general.
Prepare by Loving the Cloud
This seems like a weird one, but you’ll be surprised how few people do this! Take advantage of cloud storage and back everything up.
You can use Landlord Vision to store important files, financial information and property details. You can then access these details on any device you use. Even if you aren’t using Landlord Vision there are tools to help you take advantage of the cloud. Whether you use Dropbox to back up your PC files, Google Drive to make phone back ups or any other app with cloud storage, make use of cloud storage for EVERYTHING!
Our whole lives are digital now, what would you do if you lost all the data on your phone? Or if your laptop just suddenly wouldn’t turn on? It is utterly soul destroying to lose all your digital files because one of your devices has failed. Back everything up and you’ll never lose it, no matter what happens to your devices.
It’s easy to back your devices up, cloud storage solutions are pretty cheap and they’re oh so worth it! The best time to back up all your digital files was yesterday, the second-best time to do it is today.
Follow these tips and in no time you’ll find you’re prepared for nearly everything, all you need now is a crystal ball to see into the future and you’ll be winning!
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