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Your desk is your small business

By Suze Forster
20 November 2014 | 13 minute read

Does your desk look like Exhibit A, or Exhibit B?

Exhibit A:


My desk. Exhibit B:

Does it look like something you might see in a Harvey Norman catalogue to entice you to purchase their computer equipment or desk ensemble? Or a little like something after a Better Homes and Gardens makeover?

Your desk needs to look less like Exhibit A and more like Exhibit B. Why? Because when you de-clutter your visual field of view, you de-clutter your brain. Ever sat down at your desk on a Monday morning after an all-too-short weekend (because you spent half of it opening houses for exhibition) with a thousand things to do and no idea where to start? Take a look around your desk. If you've got more than four square inches of uncovered desk space, you're already doing one better than 85 per cent of all frustrated, harassed, time-poor, struggling property managers.

Recently I had a light bulb moment. I was walking towards my desk (which looked like a paper factory had regurgitated last night's dinner on it) and I stopped in front of it and thought, 'You've got to be kidding me!' There wasn't just paper, there were keys, no less than five coffee cups, folders, in-trays, reports, leases, filing a good two feet high, last week's empty packet of Maltesers, and somewhere underneath it all my iPad was pinging, telling me I had a meeting, and my phone was ringing. I had Buckley's of finding it in the melee.

I had four active tribunal cases and two pending, plus a large portfolio, and my desk looked like a war zone. And let's face it, most property managers feel like their job requires a flak jacket and protective head gear on any given day, right?

So I did the arm sweep. You know, where you roll up your sleeve, lay your forearm flat on your desk and sweep everything off the end and into the bin (don't worry, I salvaged the leases, the keys and the reports first – even found my iPad and phone). Literally. Just did the insta clean-up. Reorganised my work space, put away all my exhibitions packs, and created suspension files for all my active work. Even got rid of my enormous monitor, keyboard and hard drive (I now bring my own 11" MacBook Air to and from work).

You see, I work for a progressive agency that embraces workplace flexibility and enables me to work from home, office or anywhere - and on some days that means even in the car! As the market gets leaner, the supply outweighs the demand, and budgets need to be carefully monitored, the property manager paradigm is making a gradual shift and starting to model that of the typical sales agent - running portfolios like a small business within a business. Ever walked into the office of a CEO at the helm of a Fortune 500 company? No? Me neither, but I would bet a year's salary that their desk looks far more like Exhibit B than Exhibit A. Because the workspace of supremely efficient, high-functioning, successful business entrepreneurs reflects the highly organised thoughts of their visionary minds.

None of us has a spare five minutes in the day much less a spare hour (that's how long it took me to clean up my act, otherwise known as my desk). Whatever your role is in your agency, you'll save on time and cut back on your stress when you start to manage your workstation like it is the very hub of the business – you are a business manager first and foremost. When you create a work area conducive to efficiency and productivity, you won't just barely make it to that wine in the fridge at the end of the day, you'll soon find yourself strides ahead in your workload and able to take breaks (not just envy those who can). You'll be in a position to plan each coming day at the end of the one before, even have time left over for upskilling. At day's end you'll be able to disengage mentally from work and enjoy your real life (and recharge your batteries) rather than spending your evenings worrying about what awaits you the following day.

I found it all started with my desk.

I've always operated like I'm running a small business within a business, but I've shifted my model from organised chaos to streamlined clarity. All it took was an hour.

I'd write more, but I have six tribunal cases circling me like sharks – only now, I have the room (and the headspace) to lay them out and cogently construct them…


Suze Forster

Suze Forster

Suze is currently a business development manager and senior property manager with LJ Hooker Queanbeyan. With 17 years' experience in real estate in the fields of marketing, finance, office management, property management, social media management and new business generation, Suze draws on the medley of her knowledge in these fields for the content of her articles. She credits the diversity of her experience for equipping her to establish client relationships grounded in honesty, transparency, accountability and integrity.

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