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Five Ways To Be More Efficient
By Marshal Hamilton, Marketing Manager at DataMaster
We all do things that make us less efficient than we could be. Most of us try to be as useful as possible so we don’t waste time or energy. Here are some tips that help.
There are three categories of things we do that hinder our efficiency and effectiveness. First, there are things we know we could (and should) change. These are the things we do a certain way that make us comfortable, but may inhibit our ability to get things done. Second, we have things we don’t know we’re doing, or not doing, that have become part of our processes. They may have begun as something that saved a little energy, but over time they’ve crowded out other important parts of our operation. Third, methods we’ve purposefully put in place to make us more effective without measuring their effects.
I fixed it quickly and both reports closed out quickly through the system, but I felt foolish and unappreciated. No doubt I earned some “black marks” against me for “poor quality” because the reviewer had to come back for a “correction.” These stipulations are almost always about a lender overlay, not a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac requirement. They are rarely anything that affects the quality of the report, but do affect my ranking with the lender client, since a revision was needed.
No one is perfectly efficient but here are five tips to get you started on the path to getting things done.
1. Email: It sounds simple but one of the worst enemies of efficiency can be email. Rarely has something created to help us be more effective become such a time-suck. Luckily, there are tools you can use to grow and most are low-cost or free. The first is Microsoft Outlook. This email client is in most large offices across the country. One feature of Outlook I can’t live without is folders. You can set rules for your email that route your messages
to a specific folder automatically. You can keep your emails organized. Microsoft recently incorporated the Focused Inbox into the program to display essential messages in their particular section of the program. Another feature of Outlook is the ability to quickly and easily add multiple mailboxes.
In addition to creating a separate email for orders, you can accomplish a lot with a specific email for orders, such as communicating with clients, asking questions, or following up on completed assignments. If you have a website and URL, your web developer or hosting company can help you create additional email addresses. Then you can have them set up on your email client.
2. Bookkeeping: If you spend a lot of time typing and retyping your invoices there is software that can quickly and correctly create invoices. Although there is a cost associated with bookkeeping software, you can automate your invoicing and record-keeping process. One software client you could use is Quickbooks. There are several different versions of Quickbooks that handle different sized companies. You can find one that meets your needs and keep your costs down.
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3. Data Import Software: If you’re still typing data from your MLS and public records into your subject and comparables, there is a better way. With data import software (like DataMaster) you can save time and energy and worry less about typos and errors. As an appraiser, your valuation decisions are only as good as the data you use. Your data should be coming directly from the MLS and formatted correctly for your reports. Many sources of data use static,point-in-time datasets, rather than “live” data that is gathered when you need it. Using static data is like using parts for a discontinued car in a new vehicle. When you use data import software, small changes in data can have a significant effect on your reports. Don’t take chances with your data import software (DataMaster has honed its prices over the past 20 years to get a leg up on your reports.)
4. Plan for Tomorrow Today: Have you heard that your ability to make good decisions gets weaker throughout the day? When you first wake up you’re the most capable of making good choices like eating a healthy breakfast or exercising. As the day goes on, your brainpower decreases along with your willpower and the number of decisions you make depletes your store. That’s why you never eat anything good after 10:00 pm and you’re less likely to work out when you’re tired. One way to fight the willpower lull is to make decisions the day before, so you have less to think about each day. Some decisions you can make the day before include what you’ll wear the next day or planning your schedule, including driving routes, assignments, etc. so you don’t have to worry about it. There are several good Get-Things-Done (GTD) services out there and many of them are free to use. If you use Microsoft 365®, you could use Microsoft Planner. If you’re looking for something online, look into Trello. Both of these GTD services utilize the card-and-list system to help you get more done. If you’re more comfortable with traditional to do lists, Todoist and Wunderlist are two popular options that offer free services.
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5. Communication: The final tip to make yourself more efficient is to audit your communication methods. Before
the proliferation of mobile phones, everyone expected to receive phone calls throughout the day. We always checked the answering machine at the end of the day to make sure we didn’t miss anything. But it’s 2019 and things have changed. Most of us carry at least one communication device with us at all times and we’re never disconnected from our contacts. At this point, most of us don’t remember the phone numbers of many of our
friends and family and some of us don’t know our own phone numbers. The way we use our phones has changed too. For example, our Chief Appraiser, Jared Preisler, SRA, communicates with real estate agents for scheduling and verification using text messages, instead of a phone call. This has helped him get the information he needs. You must familiarize yourself with the communication preferences of those with whom you work as it can foster increased understanding and productivity.
As you examine your business and operations, take a step back and take a broad view of how you do what you do. The act of critically observing your methods can open your eyes to the things you can do better. Although many of the efficiency methods won’t save you enormous amounts of time and energy, taken together, they can make you more efficient and give you more flexibility. Any increase in efficiency will make your life easier.
About the Author
Marty Hamilton has worked at DataMaster for a little over two years. He holds an MBA
from the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah and a Bachelor’s
degree from Brigham Young University. For more tips and tricks, follow DataMaster’s In
the Weeds blog at www.datamasterusa.com/in-the-weeds.
Richard Hagar, SRA, is an educator, author and owner of a busy appraisal office in the state of Washington. Hagar now offers his legendary adjustments course for CE credit in over
40 states through OREPEducation.org. The new 7-hour online CE course Identifying and Correcting Persistent Appraisal Failures shows appraisers how to avoid CU’s red flags, minimize callbacks, save time, and earn more! Learn how to improve the quality of your reports and build defensible reports! OREP insureds save on this approved coursework. Sign up today at
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