What’s On Your Desk? What Should Be?

It’s often fun and sometimes scary to see what’s on a real estate agent’s desk. Of course, a lot depends on where the desk in question is. Office desks tend, perhaps to be neater than work spaces at home, and real estate does lend itself to working from home if you want. If you look at your own desk or around at other agent’s desks you’re like to find:
  • Coffee cup
  • Computer
  • Moniter
  • Laptop computer (yes, often both)
  • Telephone with headset
  • Family pictures
  • Lunch
  • Empty coffee cup
  • Business card holder
  • Lamp
  • Pen set
  • Ball point pen
  • Award
  • Paper – stacks of paper. Paper forms, scratch paper, letters, etc. etc. etc.

It’s really about managing paper

If your desk is out of control, it’s probably because of paper. We all know the theory about filing a paper before you pick up another one – one of those great ideas that often doesn’t really work in practice for many. Real estate, after all, doesn’t happen in nice neat little bunches of activity that lead to neatness. Instead, the phone rings, someone comes in, the phone rings, you have to leave for an appointment, the phone rings, and all this happens seemingly at the same time. That sort of activity leads to stacks of paper as you put another one down on the pile and rush off. On the other hand, there’s no need to let paperwork overwhelm you and your desk.

A Three Step Approach

Start by taking a good look at the different kinds of paper you deal with. Figure out three or four categories for it, maybe like this:
  • Clients
  • Legal
  • Marketing
  • Miscellaneous
Or it might be:
  • Listings
  • Sales
  • Clients
  • Escrow
The actual names of the categories is up to you. You’re setting up a system for you, not anyone else. It does help, however, to have fewer categories than you might think Start with just a few – you can always subdivide those later if that seems necessary. Set up a temporary space for each category – maybe even the corners of your desk as you get started. You want to be able to actually see the stacks. Sort the papers into those categories. While you’re sorting don’t hesitate to throw stuff away, the more the better. Take a close look at what you’ve got… maybe you can go from four categories to three. Or maybe you’ll spot more you can throw away. Now figure a more permanent space for each category, probably in a file drawer with labeled hanging folders. If you don’t like those, spend 30 minutes or so in a good office supply store and ask a clerk for suggestions about filing systems. You’ll be amazed at your choice. Put the papers in their appropriate place. Chances are if you can find a few moments to sort the paper into the proper place, including the trash, at the end of the day your desk will become manageable. Be gentle with yourself. Make changes as you need to. If your desk gets out of control, take an hour and straighten it out again… and again… as needed.

What you really need on your desk

There are a few things you definitely need on your desk. These include:
  • Your phone – no one in real estate can do without a phone.
  • Your computer – real estate today requires a computer. It might be a desktop or a laptop, or even both.
  • Your business cards displayed in a simple business card holder.
  • Paper for note taking – a legal tablet, a notebook, a stack of 3 x 5 cards – find what works for you.
  • Quick access to all the forms you need to list and sell a property – probably in your file drawer.
  • Quick access to current client info – also probably filed in your file drawer.
  • Extra pens that work – one or two on your desktop, maybe in a holder, and several in a desk drawer.
  • A waste basket under or next to your desk.
That should be all you really need. Your office may have additional requirements; if they do of course you add those. You might want pictures of your family and a healthy potted plant or something else that makes you feel good and helps personalize your space. Another way to look at your desk is what do you need there to be of maximum service to your clients? That’s your guideline. Okay, now, what’s on your desk right now? Let us know, if you dare, in comments.
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