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With so much to do, it's no wonder self storage operators often feel overwhelmed. You've got a thousand different tasks, all calling for your attention. You want to get to them all, but the days are too short.
We've put together several helpful tips here to get your schedule under control and make the most out of your most valuable asset: your time.
Too many operators don't put much thought into their daily schedule.
It’s easy to focus on the aspects of your business that have dollar signs attached to them - and of course, these parts are incredibly important. But operators can fall into bad habits, spending their time unwisely, and then the dollar sign parts of the business start to fall behind as well.
We’ve compiled a list of ways self storage operators can manage their time better, get more out of their days, and (hopefully) find a bit of spare time to relax!
Scheduling your time can help make you more efficient and productive. With all the million things going on in a self storage operation, it’s easy to get lost when deciding what to do next.
This scheduling can be as general or as detailed as you like; whether you break it down in fifteen-minute increments or simply designate Monday as “lead follow-up day.” The goal is to eliminate any time when you might look at a gigantic list of to-dos and get overwhelmed wondering which of them to tackle next.
Speaking of, To-Do Lists are a great way to prioritize the tasks you have to complete. If you have a good idea of which tasks are vital and which are optional, you’re better able to make choices that involve tradeoffs.
In the same way that you should be tracking what you spend to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth, tracking your time with a good schedule can help you understand where the day has gone. After all, time is money, right?
If time is money, we can be tempted to try and squeeze even more productivity out of every minute. That can mean making phone calls while doing your self storage accounting or trying to send emails and manage your marketing endeavors at the same time.
Multitasking is a myth. Humans can’t perform two tasks simultaneously. Many of us have mastered the ability to hop back and forth between multiple tasks very quickly - but that doesn’t make it better than focusing hard on one task at a time.
When you’re trying to run a small business, the margin for error can be punishingly small, and errors are more likely if you’re not focused.
In almost every instance, you’d be better off spending 30 minutes of focus on each task than 45 minutes of multitasking on two. The latter option would save you 15 minutes, but neither task would be done nearly as well as if you gave them each a focused half-hour.
If you’re worried that you literally can’t spare that extra 15 minutes to focus, you’re even less likely to give yourself 15 minutes to relax.
There’s a reason federal law requires all employees to take a certain number of breaks during a workday: humans need them.
Studies show that we function significantly better when we take regular breaks from work. Our brains remember things better when we take breaks, we enjoy our work more, and we make better decisions. If you’re only focusing on your business every minute of every hour, you’ll fall into decision fatigue and start making mistakes on top of being miserable.
Taking breaks is best for your business and it’s best for you. Not only will you make better decisions, but you’ll also be in a better headspace to interact with your coworkers, employees, and tenants.
You’re all set, ready to tackle your marketing efforts for the day - then a call comes through that the sprinkler system in one of your units is busted. You’ve immediately got to drop everything and take care of the emergency, of course.
But where does that leave your careful scheduling?
If you’ve made a prioritized to-do list, your lost time will be less impactful than it would be otherwise. You’ll be able to see at a glance which tasks are least important, and you can replace those with managing your unexpected time-sink.
If you have plenty of rest time scheduled, you’re also better insulated from unexpected interruptions. While having suitable rest time each day is much better for you, it’s an easy thing to cut when something goes wrong. Just be careful not to make “I’ll skip my break today” a habit!
Timewasters are the tasks that take up more of your time than they’re worth. These can be things like over-catering to needy customers, spending too much time checking unimportant emails, or micromanaging your employees.
You may be guilty of all or none of these things, but every small business owner has their own little quirks that they have a hard time letting go of. To identify yours, try keeping a careful record of how you spend your time throughout the week. If you’re reading this, you probably don’t have enough extra time already, and the thought of spending more of it cataloging your day might be physically painful, but it can help.
Accounting for time spent on each task will give you perspective that can make the next week’s schedule more manageable. If you know what your timewasters are, you can free up extra hours by cutting them out.
Every hour that you save from a time-wasting task is worth a lot, as you’ll get that time back every day or every week.
The other big thing you can do to give yourself more time every day is to automate as much as possible with self storage software. This big umbrella encompasses everything from your Property Management Software to your website to your gate access software.
Automation becomes more valuable the larger your operation becomes. While you might be able to manually send out bills for a few dozen tenants, that becomes much harder when you have a few hundred tenants. And the larger your business is, the more valuable your time becomes.
Everything you do by hand that could be automated is a tradeoff. For many small businesses, doing things by hand might make more financial sense than purchasing software licenses, but you need to calculate the value of your time before you make this decision.
If you’re personally emailing payment reminders every month, what could you be doing with that time if it was automated? Same with issuing gate codes, following up on leads, and processing payments?
If you find yourself twiddling your thumbs throughout the day, maybe saving yourself that time isn’t worth upgrading your self storage software. If you feel like there’s never enough time in the day, compare the costs of automation, or of hiring someone else to do some of the work, to what you might be able to do with that extra time.
After all, landing one extra happy customer because you were free to improve their customer experience could bring in more revenue than the software costs you that year!
Managing your time wisely means acknowledging what you won't have time to do. Prioritize your to-do list, keep track of how you're spending your time, and hire people you trust who can help you. Automate what you can, either with your website or your property management software.
Then, forgive yourself for not getting to everything. No matter how hard you work, or how well you manage your time, there are only so many hours in a day. Your self storage operation will be waiting for you tomorrow.
Learn more ways to improve your self storage management with these:
At StoragePug, we build self storage websites that make it easy for new customers to find you and easy for them to rent from you.