Blogs & Vlogs

Rent vs buy…who do you think will win?

As the cost of living continues to rise and housing becomes less affordable, more and more people are wondering whether it will work out better to rent for the rest of their lives, or live the Aussie dream and own their own home. I’ve decided to create an example to illustrate who is best off after 30 years of either renting or paying off a mortgage.

Bert lives in a house worth $850,000. But, he’s renting it. Now if we apply a conservative estimate that rental properties yield 5.2% gross, Bert’s rent per week would be $850 or $44,200 per annum.

Next door to Bert lives Ernie. Ernie’s house is identical in every way and worth exactly the same amount of $850,000. We know this because that is what Ernie paid for it.

Now, here are the assumptions. Both Bert and Ernie will reside in their respective “pads” for 30 years. They both started paying either rent or mortgage on the same day. To compare apples with apples as much as humanly possible, I am being really conservative with increases in rental amounts per annum, the variable interest rate as an average, capital gains per year and finally the interest earned for cash deposits of savings. I’ll also explain what could happen at the end if all things were done a little smarter by each resident.

Okay, let’s get down to it. First to Bert. Bert’s rent will increase ever so slightly per annum. In fact to be ultra conservative let’s say only 1.2%p.a. He will also decide to invest any difference made from savings, into short-term cash investment accounts which yield on average over 30 years about 5%. In his 30 years, Bert will have paid approximately $1,584,795.64 in rent.

Now Ernie on the other hand will be paying on average over 30 years 7.81% in interest on a $850,000 purchase. If he pays consistently for 30 years he will have spent $1,354,890 on interest alone and when you add to that his principal repayments he would have spent a total of $2,204,890 over 30 years.

So who’s in front so far? Based on savings, Bert would have been able to invest about $620,094 into an interest bearing account, that if yielding 5% p.a. would equate to total savings of $651,861.

However, we have to remember that at the end of the 30 years, Ernie has an asset that has increased in market value over time, and he decides to sell on his last day of repayments. If his property increases (and again this is conservative compared to historical data) in value by an average of just 4.23% p.a. his property is worth $2,933,977.60 upon sale.

This means that Ernie has spent $2,204,890 but when you minus his principal of $850,000, he has a net result of $120,912 in the red over 30 years. In other words it has cost him $121,000 approximately to live in his primary place of residence for most of his life.

On the other hand, Bert has spent $1,584,795.64 and saved $651,861, so he has a net position of $932,934.63 in the red. It has cost him nearly a million dollars to end up with nothing after all that time, other than arguably, more cash to live a “nicer” lifestyle.

So where could each resident have been smarter, and therefore finish up in a better position? If I introduced any variables at all to the above calculations the results would have been like comparing apples with oranges. However Bert may have decided to put his extra savings into the stock market and increased his savings to around 12.2% as an average. If he had been really smart, and bought an investment property on a smaller scale, he would have made even more money, and had an asset at the end, however that would really have made some variables in our calculations (as Ernie could have used equity and done the same thing.) The same could have been said for Ernie though, who with some smarter moves, such as, deciding to pour more into his home loan and paying it off earlier, saving him a substantial amount in interest being paid, thus improving his net position. And let’s face it – most of us would try to pay off more than just the minimum amount per annum. We could also have had the capital gain be more in line with historical data of around 11.6% over a few decades, however most people will agree the next 30 years should be more conservative than the last 30 years, particularly with house values being arguably above long-term average values based on comparative household income vs household debt.

So which is better? To rent or to buy? At the end of the day it comes down to what is important to you. Would you prefer to live in the “now” and have surplus cash to live a “nicer” lifestyle? Or would you rather have an asset at the end of a long life of forced savings, pay nothing in capital gains tax, and live a “nicer” lifestyle leading up to retirement? The other thing is, of course, the ability to do to your house what you want and when you want. Of course the savings there, can also be passed onto Bert, as most renters will have the majority of repairs and maintenance costs paid for by their landlord. The owner occupier will have to spend every cent themselves if they want to improve their property or even at a minimum maintain it.

Have a play with the figures to relate more to the scenario, and see where you will be in 30 years depending on which path you choose. I still feel that owning your own little piece of Australia, will always be better than living in someone else’s property forever.

(All calculations are based on my own workings and I apologise if there are any errors or variables. All persons reading this blog rely on their own calculations and financial advice as I am a licensed Real Estate Agent and not registered or licensed to offer any financial advice.)

Social media for dummies…written by one

Hmm. Facebook. Check. Umm…Twitter – check. Something more business minded…LinkedIn – check. Now substance. Where can I get my voice out there? A blog – check. It started with social interaction between lost school buddies, and gradually lead to an appetite for building relationships. My social media strategy is just that – a strategy. I’ve got a way to keep up to date with my friend’s actions on facebook. I’ve got a way to interact with business people on LinkedIn, and I can read Twitter instead of my local paper – I get to choose the content. However, my biggest thrill is doing this…writing in my blog spot. It’s a way of venting for the day, of expressing, of vocalising…everything and anything. So far I’ve written about, love, real estate, productivity, economic developments, bad drivers, healthy living and today, a subject I have almost no idea about – social media. However since dabbling in all things social on the world-wide web, there are some things I’ve picked up along the way.

1. Tweetdeck and other “linked” programs can work for some but not all. You see, this is where you write something and then with one push of a button it spreads it across all your linked social media sites. Handy right? Well, for some yes. For others it could be disastrous. Before hitting “send” on the convenient “one-stop-shop”, ask yourself who is your audience in all the mediums? Could clients be reading about your hangover on Facebook? Do business associates need to know about your Mad Monday? Understand that these functions are there to use, but question whether they’re there for you.

2. @ = a mention on Twitter. # = a topic. Now I didn’t get this for ages. And remember this is a blog for dummies like me. If you want someone to read something you are posting, simply add @ and their user name followed by whatever it is you want them to see. If you want a whole community of like-minded people to read something, you add # followed by the topic of interest. For eg. @adamdrummond cool blog you should check out about animals wearing clothes #pets. You can try to get even more specific by going #petswearingclothes but there may only be a few people who relate to that topic. #pets would have thousands. This is a way to open up discussion and followers with similar “tweets”. If you want your tweet to be private between you and someone else, just hit “message” instead. That way it goes only to their inbox.

3. Read someone’s tweets before choosing to follow them. Right, so you’ve set up a Twitter account and you have no one following you. That’s perfectly normal. Your first followers will be models from Japan, Switzerland and Canada. Just because they follow you doesn’t mean you have to follow them. They’re most likely obese men in their mid 40′s eating chips whilst “tweeting”. The best way to work out whether someone is worth following is to read their last 5 or so tweets. If they have something good to say you will know it instantly.

4. Ask yourself who your audience is in each medium. I touched on this earlier, but it really is important who you want to reach and why. For instance in twitter, you have some people recording a diary like journal, others writing specifically for their industry and some who don’t write at all – they just sit their anonymously and read. All of those are fine, but you have to choose who you are, so that your voice makes sense.

5. Facebook is the most social of all mediums – so try to keep it that way. If you are a “friend” and not a “page”, then facebook should be about social things. The content should be 80% bits about you, friends, family and 20% about your business. The worst facebook friends in real estate are the ones that post listings every day or open house times. They are for facebook pages only.

6. Blogs are for brave souls. I have to admit it’s a bit daunting posting your first blog. After all, who’s going to agree with the things you state? At the end of the day always remember that a blog is just an opinion. And you have to be prepared for people not to agree with your opinion so don’t get hurt when you receive comments that are negative. Blogs are supposed to stimulate conversation, discussion and debate. It’s a great way of articulating how different we all are as human beings. My opinion is though, that all posts should have an identity. One of my pet hates is an anonymous post from someone being spiteful and negative, sometimes offensive. If you have an opinion, show yourself. It’s a great way to demonstrate credibility.

7. Unfollowing is easy and no one gets hurt. If you feel your twitter account is cluttered with stuff, just unfollow the people who are posting things least of interest to you. Nobody cares or gets offended. In facebook you can “unfriend” people, which is slightly harder to do, but they don’t receive notification of being “unfriended”, they just stop receiving your posts.

8. LinkedIn is business only. Well at least 90% business and maybe 10% general interest. This is really a way for online networking with other business people. Everyone is still getting used to LinkedIn and its features even though it’s been around so long. It’s great for recommendations and even has a handy pdf you can print off with testimonials from other business people. It looks pretty professional too.

9. Don’t aim to get business from social media but understand it can be a bi-product. Just by having a presence in social media, your name is being read each day by possibly hundreds of consumers. Whilst you’d be mad to poach these people for business directly, you should be aware that some people will contact you through these social mediums about your work. And they often expect a reply as fast as an email. So it helps to have your social media sites handy on your smart phone. That way you can answer messages straight away that relate to business.

10. Learn more every day. Social media is a great way to learn things faster and more efficiently. I choose which posts to read and each day there are literally dozens to choose from, that lead to beneficial websites littered with information that is relevant to me. It’s like being an Editor in Chief of your own publication.

So hopefully this has helped those who are starting out in the social media scene. Eventually you can add video posts, audio podcasts the list goes on. But always remember to ask yourself: who am I reaching and why?

For more developments in social media, read this.

no fad diet – just new habits

This blog is not by a nutritionist, nor a physical trainer, doctor, medical practitioner or expert in dieting. I need to state that, because it is just from someone who has experienced weight loss and maintained a healthy lifestyle. This blog identifies what assisted me, and what may help you if you have poor eating or exercise habits. In August 2009 I weighed 92.3kg. That was the month I walked into a gym and met my personal trainer for the first time. My goal weight over time was 80kg. I currently weigh between 78kg and 81kg. If you want to see the physical transformation yourself, visit my real estate market wraps at www.youtube.com.au/fitzpatricks2650 and go all the way back to my first few wraps in Sep, Oct and Nov 2009. This is what I did, and what I believe every person on earth can do.

1. Decide you want to be healthier…for life

There’s no point just wanting to lose weight by a certain date. You have to be committed for the long haul. Remember this is not a diet, it is a path to new habits.

2. Don’t set Hollywood goals. Look, unless you have the time to look like Brad or Angelina whose jobs are to look good, set realistic goals. You may have someone you know from work who is an inspiration, or someone in your circle of friends, but don’t expect 6 packs and Hollywood looks or you will set yourself up for disappointment. It’s not impossible, it’s just not necessary.

3. Habits start with alternative thinking. You don’t eat what’s in your pantry without having bought it first. All your bad habits start with the shopping trolley. That little green goblin is not responsible for the chips in your cupboard, you put them there, and you bought them, knowing they are wrong for you! When you are at the shops, you have to start with alternative thinking right there and then. Spend longer in the produce department. Instead of buying a box of ice creams, which fruits do you really love the taste of? Strawberries, mangos, kiwi fruit? Appreciate naturally sweet things if you want to eat sweetly. Instead of buying white bread, choose the multigrain. Instead of the full milk get light or skim. Flavours are psychological from years of convincing your tastebuds of what’s good. Untrain them and you will be on the path to success.

4. Have 3 things right now that you are willing to live without. For me it was; chips (hot or cold), thickshakes (my Achilles heel) and milk and sugar in my coffees. Now before you say, “No way”, remember the 80/20 rule. Don’t set yourself up for failure by having unrealistic expectations. If you have a chip or two every once a month or so, fine, don’t bang your head over it. But know that you are committed to eliminating them from your daily or weekly habits. I used to drink large lattes with 2 sugars and now I love long blacks with no sugar. You can train your tastebuds to adjust over time.

5. Have an accountability partner. If I didn’t have Sharpey, my personal trainer waiting for me every Thursday at 6.15am, I would have given up long ago. Unless you are someone who has amazing self restrain and self-accountability, you need someone to get you through the tough patches. There is no way on earth I could train as hard on my own as what Sharpey trains me in the gym. He pushes me until I can not physically move. But here are the tips for having a Personal Trainer. Never let them down. Don’t call and say you can’t make it (unless you are genuinely sick). Don’t question their judgement. They are trained to train you. They know what your capabilities are. Don’t whinge. Personal Trainers hate whingers. If you can’t work out an affordable way to have a PT at least once a week (ideally twice a week), then have a friend be your accountability partner and get fit together. The cyclists in town are great motivators for each other. If someone doesn’t turn up they want to know why.

6. Drink more water. The more you drink the healthier you will become, just by having the right amount of fluids in your body. It also helps with the weight in your face believe it or not. Your body can also feel fuller, tricking it into not wanting to eat as much.

7. Understand that your stomach doesn’t physically shrink, but it thinks it does when you adjust your food intake. Check this out http://www.ehow.com/about_5525948_stomach-shrink-lose-weight.html. Losing weight and maintaining physical fitness is 80% diet and 20% exercise. You can flog yourself senseless in the gym or at the track, but if you go and eat a whopper or Big Mac later that day, it will mostly have been for nothing.

8. Eat less but more often. To maintain your new lease on life you have to have regular snacks of good food rather than three big meals a day. A piece of toast at brekky with a few weetbix with light milk, followed at 10am with a trail mix muesli bar, then a light lunch either salad or sandwich/wrap, then at 3pm have some fruit, at 4.30 have some trail mix of nuts and dried fruit, then a light dinner. If you can follow that plan for 6 days a week you can have one full-on meal of whatever you want on the seventh day. It’s habit not a diet remember. And as Sharpey has told me, you still need to have rewards along the way.

9. Find 30 minutes at least 4-5 days a week to exercise on your own. One training session with Sharpey is equal to about 4 of my own sessions. When I train at home it’s just light running on the treddy, a bit of boxing on the bag and some sit ups and push ups. I sweat, but I don’t get to the levels that Sharpey gets me to.

10. Have physical goals that you review once a month to ensure you are on track. The main ones are, weight, measurements and heart rate after exercise. I’ve got a book of all my measurements and performances and you wouldn’t believe it was the same bloke’s stats! But don’t just have physical goals. Also set yourself some event goals. Go in a mini marathon. I did a boxing event. You always train better if you know something is coming up you have to be in peak form for.

After you have followed these 10 steps, you will have created new habits and you will be a new person. You will feel better, look better and achieve more at work and with family. Don’t be harsh on yourself with time frames. It took me at least 12 months of programming my brain into new habits, but each month I achieved more and more. Your biggest enemy though is yourself. Don’t forget the shopping point. If you need to, keep a personal journal of everything you eat. Look back at it and you may be shocked. Focus on the new you. You deserve it!

tips for real estate agents

One of my best friends was telling me of his recent real estate experiences, and how bitterly disappointed he has been with the buying process. The agents he has dealt with have all got experience, but somewhere along the way they have forgotten some common decencies. Here are my top 5 tips for us agents to stay on track:

1. Be accessible. If the phone rings answer it. If you are on the phone, in a meeting or not close enough to hear it ring, return the call as soon as you get the message. Everyone is frustrated by an agent that can’t be reached.

2. Call the client before the client has to call you. Ring directly after an inspection or open house. Give feedback on the market when there’s lack of activity. People want to be kept informed.

3. Use the best contact for that contact. If someone emails, email back. If a vendor prefers to be texted because they teach all day, send texts. Just ask and you will soon know.

4. Be transparent. This is the most frustrating thing for buyers and sellers. We are seen as the middle person holding all the cards. You should act as though at any stage you could have a teleconference with both parties at the same time, and neither will feel you’ve said anything the other can’t verify. Always act as though you are being taped by A Current Affair. How do you want to be portrayed on telly?

5. Turn up on time. Assume every person you meet has turned up 5 minutes early. That means if you arrive on time, they feel you are 5 minutes late. If you are running even 30 seconds late, call the person waiting.

There are a million other things we can do to improve the customer’s experience, but these 5 are the easiest to do straight away, and the ones that drive most buyers and sellers crazy. There will be times you fall down on one of these principles, but have the ability to acknowledge you made a mistake – don’t let pride get in the way of being a good person.

 

Why I changed careers…from Actor to Agent

Ok.  This is personal.  From the age of 6, I wanted to be an actor.  I remember the moment like it was minutes ago.  My mum had made me a costume specifically for the Infant’s play, “Strange Fairy Tales” and I was the big, bad wolf.  The mask was brown felt, with holes for the eyes, and my body was covered in dark wool with a wooly wire tail.  It smelt like your grandmother’s carpet.  On performance night, I was nervously waiting in the “wings” for my first ever stage appearance.  The audience was shuffling around and it sounded like there were thousands in attendance.  I know now that can’t have been true, as Moulamein only had a population of about 480, so there may have been about 60 parents waiting for their kid’s big moment.  And then it came.  I scurried out on all fours and there was heightened laughter at my appearance from nowhere.  I looked through my little eye holes and could only see light.  Lots of light.  But I could hear the laughter and a couple of claps.  I hadn’t even said anything yet.  And that’s when I changed the script slightly.  Instead of just announcing I was the Big Bad Wolf, I spun around on my four “legs” and howled at the top of my lungs, “I’M THE BIIIIIG, BAAAAD WOLF”.  The audience roared with laughter.  So I did it again.  This was addictive.  Ms. Young had step onto stage and whisper in my ear that there was more than just my opening line…and off I went.  I don’t remember too much of the rest of the night.  I’m sure I devoured a little pig here and there, and frightened the life out of Little Red Riding Hood, but I do remember that defining moment.  The moment I decided I wanted more.  Something strange happened after that night.  I actually felt like I was constantly being filmed.  Like my very own Truman Show, years before The Truman Show was made.  This was 1984 and I wanted to be a star.  I wanted to be Michael J. Fox from Family Ties (and a couple of years later as Teen Wolf!)  so that was that.  I was going to be an actor.  Years later, I even went as far as leaving my second home town of Cootamundra in 1993 to start a HSC course in Drama in Wagga Wagga.  My parents went over to suss out school options and when they pulled up to one local High School they were convinced they saw some kids smoking weed, so I ended up at Trinity Senior High – a fateful moment in my life as that is where I met the future mother of my kids!  And here is where things get serious.  I enrolled in the Acting for Screen and Stage course at Charles Sturt University (I would have done what 90% of other aspiring actors did back then and audition for NIDA like my idol Mel Gibson did in the year I was born – but I couldn’t handle the idea of rejection…something I would get to know more of later in life!)  Instead I stayed in Wagga Wagga to learn the “craft” and also learn that I wasn’t as good as I first thought.  My first screening of a short film I did revealed that I just “faked” it rather than actually acted.  I was shocked.  Could I really be that bad?  So I knuckled down and learned the theory behind the practicalities and eventually graduated with a Distinction average.  I was really annoyed I couldn’t achieve a High Distinction, but I was pretty hopeless at Movement Class.  Anyway, our graduation performance was The Would Be Gentleman by Moliere and I was lucky enough to have my future Agent in attendance in the audience.  He’d flown over from Sydney and was in his first year as an agent.  Mark Byrne asked me to come in for a “go see” in Sydney and I was flatly refused a spot on his books.  I was devastated.  Then my show reel turned up and he had another look.  He finally gave me a chance and within weeks I’d landed my first role.  I was a country boy saying good bye to my “dad” as I boarded a plane.  The ad was for Optus as mobile phone sales increased and for 4 hours work I was paid about $10,000.  Holy shit, I thought.  Ten grand for 4 hours work!  This is it.  I quickly quit my shelf stacking job at Big W Rockdale and decided to be a full time actor.  However, after “casting” for several things over several months – nothing.  My ten grand was also now nothing.  I had to work again and became a Room Service attendant at The Ritz Carlton in Double Bay.  I could name drop for 10 paragraphs here, but I won’t.  Needless to say though, coming into contact with so many Hollywood stars kept me motivated.  I did some more ads that all paid so well.  One for McDonalds was about $8,000 for 3 hours work but all they want in commercials is facial expressions. I wanted something meatier.  I did attempt to get into some film roles but I never quite made it.  Eventually I appeared in Water Rats and All Saints in very small parts, but at least I got to speak and meet some great “real actors”.  My four days on Water Rats was the best memory.  I was sharing a green room with Matt Newton who was the same age, very nice and filming the episode after mine (for economic reasons most Australian dramas shoot two episodes at once) and also with Andrew McFarlane.  They knew each other well and I just listened and tried to act cool, like I did this thing every day.  My first scene came and I had to push a stuntman dressed as a little boy over the edge of a tug boat in a helicopter crash scene.  There were explosions and fire and everything and I became the first suspect in a murder investigation!  Steve Bisley was more famous to me than to most, because he bunked in the old NIDA days with my idol, Mel.  They also appeared in Mad Max together.  I couldn’t wait to film a couple of scenes together.  Man, I’ve made it!  Then later that year I was chosen to be in a VISA card ad with Liv Tyler that would screen all around the southern hemisphere.  Again, 4 hours and $18,000 later, I thought I’d made it again.  I even got to talk with Liv for the whole time of filming.  However these parts are so few and far between that you lose your confidence and your skill if you’re not doing it all the time.  Not only that, but I was just married, wanted to start a family and the big thing that changed everything…Big Brother.  Reality TV and lifestyle programs popped up everywhere and TV content became about ratings not drama.  And that’s no big deal, but a lot of possible work dried up because of it.  The kicker though came in the form of a role on a Sci-Fi show called Farscape.  I was terrified.  They gave me a trailer for God’s sake even though I literally had two lines.  I spent 3 hours in hair and make up.  But I couldn’t remember my lines.  I couldn’t even pronounce some of the words.  I really only had two lines as an alien mechanic.  “The rabricator has stopped at the Crystherium Cavern”.  WTF?  I kept calling it a “rabulator” – CUT.  AGAIN.  “rabulator”.  CUT CUT. AGAIN.  Eventually I heard the Director tell the sound guy he was going to have to dub my voice.  This was it.  My last day as an actor.  Hollywood sets, massive characters in award winning costumes and I was gone.  What now?  What can you do when your only degree is in Acting and you want to start a family close to home?  You become a Real Estate agent.  Well you don’t have to do that I suppose.  However we bought our first house in 2002 and the agent we bought off suggested me for a job at his firm.  I got it and haven’t looked back.  I’ve still got mementos of my time in Sydney as an actor – a photo in the trailer as an alien.  Clips from Water Rats and All Saints as a patient who proposes to his girlfriend.  And lots of memories.  I’ve always said, one day I’ll go back and start again.  I’ll try to get dad roles, or be a cop in a drama.  Who knows?  For now though, I’m happy to raise my beautiful little men, with my wonderful wife and do the best I can for my clients.  Still, it’s been good to put these memories in writing, so thanks Helen for your suggestion of a topic.  And tomorrow Bernadette, I’ll do a blog on real estate!!

Real Time Management – not just the fluffy stuff

Time Management is one of the most common topics at industry conventions. So many people ask, “how do I manage my time more effectively?” Yet these same people are asking the same question the next year, and the year after that. I believe it’s because of the old 80/20 rule. 20% of people put thoughts and goals into action whereas 80% know they should, but never get around to the implementation stage. This blog is designed to help those in the 80% camp. I have to admit, I was in the 80% camp for a long, long time. I managed to change though with one simple slogan that everyone knows, but I won’t reveal it until the end of my blog. Firstly, I’m going to explain the rules of Time Management and then I’m going to get into the practicalities.

THE RULES

1. Declutter. If your workspace, your home, your car, your garage is a mess, then chances are you are one of those people who runs around like a severely injured chicken. You know, the one without its head. I have approximately 1 hour extra in my day compared to people who operate in a mess, because I spend almost zero time looking for things. Decluttering allows you to think clearer, feel better and of course operate more effectively.

2. Sacrifices. I recently decided I was going to write a blog at least three times a week. This meant I had to sacrifice time doing something else. In my case it wasn’t that big a sacrifice – watch less tv for an hour whilst I write. However, some people have got to sacrifice a lot more than that if they want to gain “more hours in their day”.

3. Technology. To be the most time efficient person you have to embrace technology. No one can convince me that hand writing anything is quicker or more efficient than learning to type quicker, while using instantaneous messaging services. If you can not write a letter in five minutes, do a spreadsheet for a report or analyisis, send an email from your car (whilst stopped) you are in another era. Time to catch up. Smart phones are mandatory, paper diaries should be thrown out and everything should sync to a central hub. You only need one place for everything as otherwise you are just doubling up.

4. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE. This really should be rule number one because it is that important. You can get a million books on this subject but as humans we still find ways to put things off. My slogan by one of the most recognised companies in the world turned my procrastinating nature around. If you haven’t figured it out already, it’s at the end of this post.

5. Don’t re-invent the wheel. Everything you think of has most likely been done by someone else before. I’m in the process of setting up a mentoring program for youths in Wagga, however I knew that it would be a waste of time creating a program from scratch. So instead I wrote out my objectives of the program and then showed them to people in welfare or care organisations. I now have templates of at least two running mentor programs and all the local charities want to unite to make them bigger and more singular. Your next big idea may be already working well in a town somewhere in Europe. Google it. Find it. Get permission to replicate and then implement.

6. Implement the following practicalities.

That’s it. 6 simple rules. But here’s the “rub”. The first 5 don’t mean anything unless you implement number 6. Here are my practical tips for changing your time management issues.

a) Write out your life priority list. If you don’t know what is most and least important to you, you will never know where to start. The list is simple. Mine looks like this : Family, Health, Friends, Leisure, Spirituality, Money

Yours may look like this : Family, Money, Leisure, Friends, Health, Spirituality. The trick is then to work out the sub categories of each. For instance, spirituality does not necessarily mean religion or worship. It may mean, yoga, meditation, relaxation. Spirituality is to do with your inner peace, what grounds you. A walk in the park by yourself could be your spirituality action. “Leisure” has a wide range of visuals depending on who you are. Give some thought to fleshing these out and already you will be heading in the right direction. All of a sudden you will be committing more time to your family than you thought possible. You can’t deviate from those 6 headings though. If one is missing your balance will be missing and you will fall over. You need all 6 to survive and prosper.

b) Plan your Year – then your month – then your week – then your day. If you don’t have your year planned, again you will wasting time deciding things day-to-day. For example I have all my appointments booked in at the start of each calendar year. Haircuts are on a recurrence of every 4 weeks and set with the salon in January. My dentist appointment is booked in so I don’t have to be disappointed about waiting four months to see him. I know exactly when the family holiday is and it’s non-negotiable because we have planned it at the start of the year together. Family Birthdays are mapped out, so you know when to buy the present. You get the idea. Then each month you have targets in your company. Review them. Goals to achieve – write the results out. If you don’t know your numbers you don’t know your path. If you don’t know your path you know your map is lost in that cluttered drawer somewhere. Once your month is down you should form an “ideal week” (recognition to John McGrath who mentioned this years ago and has been engrained as a habit ever since). Your ideal week is the break up of firstly what you know is going to occur. You block in your regular appointments, then work all else around them. When you will be going out for dinner, when you have to make your business calls. Then your day is planned. See next point.

c) Your Day – This is a big one. You always start with a day. If you have points a) and b) written down and implemented, your day will start a lot better. Each day should start earlier than what you are starting now. There is an easy way to gain minutes even hours every day. Wake up earlier. All successful people are up before 6.30am – most successful people will have had breakfast and exercised before then! Join them. (Already the 80/20 rule is kicking in with 80% of people reading this not committing to an earlier start.) Now that you’re up, check your electronic calendar for your day’s movements. What’s already in there? Birthdays, appointments, meetings? Now the difficult one. Write out you “do” list. It’s not a “to do” list. drop the word “to”. You will do these things today. Now split your day into a.m and p.m on your “do” list. Move to point d).

d) Okay, you’ve made it this far. Here are some simple things you have to acknowledge about your day. There will be distractions. Emails, incoming phone calls, a person standing in your doorway with a question, a friend who pops into the office for a catch up, the list goes on. Now have a plan for each possible interruption. I do my emails at the start of the day – from home. Done and dusted by the time I reach the office I’ve acted on most emails. Check them again at a certain time because you have to get other things done first. You will decrease the number of inbound calls if you increase the number of outbound calls. I have between 12 to 25 vendors who I’m representing at any given time. Vendors like to know what is going on, however I hardly ever receive a phone call from them. Why? Because I’ve already called them. This frees up approximately one hour in inbound calls a day! The friend who comes in. – Set up the rules before seeing your friend. How long can you spend with them if you are free? Can you make a later appointment to catch up more thoroughly later in the day? Distractions can be mastered.

e) Split your day into three categories. I touched on am and pm but there is also evening. In the morning you should have no appointments. Ever. Learn to say “no” if someone asks you to go somewhere or do something for them in the morning. Your whole morning is blocked out to plan, make calls, do the things you don’t want to do. The PM is for appointments, new activities and what I call “dollar productive meetings”. For me it’s when I do all my inspections with buyers, my meetings with potential sellers and calls to friends or family for referrals.

f) Work in chunks not in bites. Don’t go blocking out every 15 minutes of time in the day. It doesn’t allow for any flexibility, and whilst time management is structured, you still need to be flexible. If for example an investor was in town between 9am and 12 noon to see their investment property but they also want an appraisal to sell it, am I going to put it off til the afternoon? No way. Have common sense when it comes to your priorities.

g) Understand Time Travel. Um, what? Understand that it takes time to travel. Block out any appointments in a geographical pattern. Know how long it gets to each appointment from each appointment. I used to do an inspection at 10am in Lake Albert and at 4pm I was back out there with someone else. I could have done both at the same time but I made one crucial mistake. I gave an option to the person making the appointment. If you ring me now to see something I give you days and times to see a place. “That’s available at 4pm tomorrow”. Little does the caller know that I have a 3.30pm appointment around the corner tomorrow also, so it’s convenient for my time. Most people when calling are happy to meet your expectations. Have you ever called the doctor and told them what time you’re coming in?

h) The non negotiables of the day. Aside from the example I just mentioned in being flexible you should have standards that are non-negotiable. Make calls out every day. Return phone calls within minutes of receiving a message. Say “no” to others who “grab” your time. Improve your skills daily. You have to do some form of learning or reading each day. Also as Brian Tracy said “eat that frog”. It is a non negotiable to get the things you don’t want to do the most, out-of-the-way first.

i) Stick to enough planning and implementing that it becomes habit. All things that are good for us are habits but all things bad for us are also habits. You have to break the bad ones and stick to the good ones. Do you drop your towel on the floor when you’ve finished your shower? Change now. Hang it up immediately each time. Small habits are easier and with time they help with the discipline of bigger habits. Here is a big one. When you receive a piece of paper or an invitation to something, act on it immediately. Don’t work in piles. “I’ll pile that for later.” RSVP now, then throw in the bin. This habit takes much discipline to break but it’s a great one once you do. Those who work in piles or out of poorly organised files, are behind by miles.

i) So that’s pretty much your day. It should look like this.

6.00am wake up. Spend time with the kids. Eat breakfast. Read paper. Check diary. Write out “do” list.

7.00am. Exercise. Meditate. Whatever you need to do to kick-start your day.

8.00am. Emails.

9.00-noon. Calls. Planning. Reading. Learning.

noon to 6pm. Appointments.

6pm to 11pm. Family, friends, leisure.

So, now you have your year, month and day blocked out, you will find a lot more time in your day to operate without feeling flustered. What was the slogan that changed my swaying towards procrastination? Nike’s “just do it”. So many of us think it, believe in it, but don’t just do it! What you put off til tomorrow will continue to be put off forever. You may one day get around to doing it, but in the meantime a whole range of others will have popped up. Learn to be faster. Make decisions now not in three days. If you can’t make a decision now ask yourself why you can’t. What’s blocking you? Go. “Just do it”.

Peace for you, without a piece of you

To my knowledge, I am the only Australian male to not watch sport.  Or at least, if I’m not the only one, I feel like it.  I’m in the minority in this regard. And I know this because so many people are vocal in their disgust that I don’t enjoy watching sport of pretty much any kind.  “It’s not Australian.”  “You can’t call yourself a bloke.”  You see, when we are adamant we form part of the majority, we are quite happy to vocalise it.  Males are often boys when they are alone, but become men when they are in a group.  I’m very fortunate in that I don’t actually care.  Somewhere along my timeline of life, whether from nature or nurture, I was gifted with something very rare – the ability to not compare myself with others.  I don’t cut down tall poppies, I actually strive to be one. This goes against the grain (although not many admit it) in Australian culture.  And I think it stems from sport.  The very pursuit of championing over someone means we are directly opposed to the competitor.  We compare ourselves day in and day out to others.  “I want to look like her” the magazines lead us to believe.  “I want to live like him” the movies make us dream.  But this issue is really deeper than that.  It is engrained in our attitude to others and is the reason there is less peace in the world.  People are constantly telling you what is right and wrong according to the “majority rules” theory.  From the Rooster supporter in a sea of Sharks at the footy, to the Sudanese in a community of white people, we create boundaries around those that are different.  So everyone wants a piece of you.  “You’re different, so you’re wrong”.  I probably do get mostly offended with generalisations around being an agent.  That we’re all untrustworthy and manipulative, all in the name of earning a commission.  If we want you to drop the price on your family home, it’s not only an insult because you know your house is worth more, it’s only because we want our commission quicker.  These generalisations are so rife you may have found yourself nodding in agreement with those last couple of statements.  But, you learn to live with those thoughts.  You can’t please everyone.  But at least it’s not due to the colour of my skin, or my chosen belief system, or my sexuality.  How these people tolerate generalisations is beyond me.  I take my hat off to them.  People compare.  If one person is a Christian and another is an atheist, the two of them are sizing up each other’s belief code.  One of them is right, right?  Wrong.  It doesn’t matter if you are an Atheist, a Muslim, or a Catholic – you believe what you believe.  There’s no point trying to convert one person to your code of beliefs, as each person travels their own road to discovery.  Here is my thought on peace.  If another person is not harming another, and they are not breaking a “common sense” law, then they are not hurting me – and that is peace.  A “common sense” law by the way is exactly that.  A law that makes sense, and believe me, there are hundreds that don’t.  But let’s look at this thought for a second.  Why do we get wound up about the private lives of others?  Because they live differently to you or I?  Most will justify their stance against gay marriage for instance because “it tears at the fabric of society”.  It amounts to “unnatural lifestyles for children”.  What a load of hogwash.  If there was any merit to this argument, why is the divorce rate so high in Australia?  If the sanctity of marriage is so important here in the Western world, why do so many marriages end in broken families?  Why is it that children are exposed to abuse in heterosexual relationships on a daily basis by the thousands?  How can a straight person suggest that homosexual couples don’t have as much love for their children as those who represent mums and dads?  Because they feel they are the majority and therefore they are right.  How come an atheist can get married in a church but people who are gay can’t?  How can I even think this way when I am a white, Australian male?  Because I don’t watch sport.  Only kidding.  It’s because I believe in the real term “equality”.  So many who are so-called humanitarians fighting for equality, are actually spruiking the exact same sentiment as their opposing camp, only in opposing words.  This is why Feminism is just female chauvinism.  I don’t agree with either.  I think people should be paid based on their skill set.  That the glass ceiling is one of the biggest mysteries known to man..uh hmm..to peoplekind.  The biggest problem we face as a world, is our lack of understanding towards those who are different.  I once defined equality as; “equality = understanding and accepting that circumstances different to your own, are equal to your own circumstances.”  If we all 100% believed that, wouldn’t this be a better place?  But just quickly back to my disinterest in sport, and your natural instincts to feel that is “weird”.  I honestly don’t judge a person based on their interests either.  For some reason people believe they are above other people who watch “reality tv” as an example.  Why?  Who cares if they watch reality tv and why are you a bigger person for not being interested in it?  Why do some people care what kinds of movies another person watches?  If someone is an indoor person as opposed to enjoying the great outdoors like you, they’re strange?  I don’t know.  It’s there though isn’t it!  And when we don’t all want a piece of everyone else, we will all be in peace.

Better, not best

There is a massive issue with wanting to be the best at something.  Once there, then what?  You can’t be the “bestest”.  Too often we strive for the ultimate goal to “be the best”, without aiming instead to become “better”.  Here’s the first problem with wanting to be the best.  You’re competing with someone else.  Now, don’t get me wrong, it feels good to be recognised for being the best against other competitors, but ultimately what does it prove?  Only that you were the best out of those who competed!  We are constantly competing with other people instead of focusing on what is better for others, not just us.  For instance, if you want to be the best real estate agent, you’re concerned with beating a competitor, instead of focusing on what is better for the client. The client doesn’t care if you are the best in your area, just that you are the best for them…that you do the best by them.  The second issue with wanting to be the best, is the timeframe involved.  Competition revolves around a start and finish point.  Not so for those aiming to be better.  I can be better at anything I like tomorrow compared with yesterday.  What did I do yesterday or today that I can improve on tomorrow?  You see, when you are aiming to be better at anything at all, your only competitor is yourself.  My aim is to be able to claim lots of smaller trophies or rewards constantly rather than one massive trophy or reward at the end of a long journey. And that’s life too isn’t it?  You can start easily by wanting and aiming to be a better human being.  How can you help someone else tomorrow you didn’t help today?  What compliment can you give someone you ordinarily would have passed without a word?  I do want to be a better real estate agent, but don’t care if that results in me being the best.  I think, how would my customers and clients benefit from some sort of extra service I wasn’t offering yesterday?  Not, what can I do that my competitors are doing, only better.  I also want to be a better husband – (hardly possible, but why not try?)  An extra date to plan for the two of us, a massage she wasn’t expecting, a text message out of the blue saying “I love you”.  Little things add up to being “better”.  There is no reason why you can’t apply a bunch of little things, little habits, little extras to any part of your life to become better at something.  Don’t drive yourself mad trying to be the best and succeeding every now and then.  Aim to be better and win every time!!

More than 24 hours in a day…

The literal cynics will attempt to prove me wrong here. “There are 24 hours in a day” they will exclaim, crinkling their foreheads with patronising superiority. You see, these people are the 24 hour creatures. They believe in 9 to 5 mentality where all things outside of work revolve around everything else. They are “inside” the box thinkers and they are the first to bring you back to reality when you have an “outside” the box idea.

When I say I believe there are more than 24 hours in a day, I’m not referring to the clock on the wall. I’m referring to comparative existing. (That’s a phrase I just made up.) In other words how one person spends the time in their day, is completely different to how another person spends the seconds, minutes, hours of their day.

You only have to look back in history, pre advanced technology to understand my statement. In just over 50 years on this planet, William Shakespeare wrote around 38 plays, several poems, over 150 sonnets and did so within a 25 year time frame.

Albert Einstein who lived into his 70′s managed to prove the speed of light, assert the equivalence of mass and energy (E=mc2) and create the term “quantum physics” as well as win a Nobel Prize whilst raising a family.

But how do great people seem to have the ability to gain more hours in the day to achieve so much? Most entrepreneurs understand this concept of time better than most. Let’s first of all take time out of the equation. Let’s just think of a day as “sunrise” being the start and “sunrise” being the end.

If you were to just set your time by the rising of the sun, you would no doubt achieve so much more in your life time. For starters, you aren’t concerned with deadlines and restrictive meetings on the hour. 24 hour creatures can only fathom time. 7am, wake up, 8.30am roller door goes down, 9am start work, 12.30pm have lunch, 5pm knock off, 5.30pm roller door goes up, 6.45pm dinner is served etc etc.

By the way, I should point out it is okay to live like this. In fact the majority do. 80% of people in the Western world exist in this fashion. 20% of people are the exception. The question is – how many real hours do you have in a day? For instance, I see myself as a 28 hour guy. I reckon I can fit about 4 hours more into action than the average person. This is okay, but it’s not great. I go to bed at 11pm wake up at 5.30am, but that’s not where I gain the extra hours.

Productivity is extremely difficult to quantify. However we all know that if you were given a paint brush, paint and a wall, a professional painter would beat you hands down in speed and accuracy with the exact same situation. That painter’s productivity is miles ahead of ours. Whilst we would take approximately 3 hours to paint the wall properly, the professional painter has walked away after just 45 minutes. This painter has an extra 2 hours and 15 minutes in his day compared to you, yet he started at the same time.

In life, there are a lot of productivity challenges, but no more so than decision-making. Most people know what gut instinct means, but rarely do they apply it to their every day life. Instead we get bogged down in over analysing choices and therefore taking longer to make a decision that can so easily end up being the wrong one because of procrastination.

Malcolm Gladwell explains this ability in his book “Blink”. This is where even well paid managers lose valuable hours in their day. They walk away from their gut and rely on their research.

I have a mate named Galvin who compared with me as a 28 hour man, is more a 48 hour man. Galvin Scott-Davis (look him up) manages to squeeze so much into a day it would make you nauseous trying to keep up – and he doesn’t break a sweat. His first priority is his family. Three growing boys and his wonderful partner are never left wanting for his attention. He manages to spend time with them as well as run his own businesses (yes there are more than one) as well as write, act in, direct and produce his own creative work. He has written a short film that he starred in, directed and produced, resulting in international awards and recognition, he has published a graphic novel specifically for the i-pad generation (“Stricken” – product placement for my mate) and developed several award winning apps from his studio. He has a massive portfolio of important clients who only rave about his work as a web designer and developer (yes he does both) but more than this he has a non conformist, non 24-hour brain. He doesn’t work to a clock, he works to goals. To outcomes. To an unwritten set of soon to be – “achievements”. He doesn’t just exist, he lives. Galvin, who will probably be reading this from his Mac at 11.53pm whilst alt + tabbing between 15 other running programs, is a multi-tasker who still manages to raise his family and go to the movies.

The reason I use him as an example is because a) I know him as someone who fits the description of a non 24′er, b) you probably haven’t yet heard of his name in your lounge room proving that brilliant people exist amongst us and c) he deserves recognition for being the way he is.

So what would you do if you were granted 48 hours in the day to everyone else’s 24? Why not apply it right now? Make decisions from your gut more often. When you fall quicker, you learn quicker. Cut out wasted moments of insignificance and apply the new moments to something grand. Write a book. Give a speech. Inspire someone outside your circle of influence. Have some more fun. Don’t let anyone say you don’t have enough hours in the day, even if that person is yourself. You can do anything with your day – you just have to watch the sun rise.

The Driver Equals The Person

Wagga drivers are bad.  There, I said it.  It’s a massive generalisation, but for someone who is on our local roads more than most, believe me when I say we are bad!

I remember when I was living in Sydney, part of the frustration was the traffic.  The funny thing is though, it wasn’t the motorists who were to blame, it was just Sydney congestion.  If someone needed to merge lanes, or drive out from a lane-way, other motorists would let them in – there would 9 times out of 10 also be a wave back of “thanks”.

Fast forward to my beautiful town of Wagga where there is a hardly a negative thing to say about the place, but the reverse is true on the roads.  The congestion is non existent aside from the overpass at 5pm or the Glenfield rd and Ferneigh intersections, but the motorists!!

My God.  How about instead of increasing the speed to stop a person from merging lanes, we understand they may need to turn right in about 300 metres and let them in?

Likewise someone coming from a lane could wait several minutes for a break in traffic or we could stop for three seconds and let them grab a lane.

I can’t help but to look at other motorists while I drive…particularly when something goes wrong.  A face can say a million things without actually hearing the words that may be coming from the face.

Why can’t we just relax and be considerate, a bit like how we want people to be when we need to turn right, or come out of a lane?  Remember, the driver equals the person.  If you treat people like that on the road, you may just treat people like that in life – and that’s not a good place to be.

I won’t get started on the really inconsiderate drivers – the ones who hoon around roundabouts, cut lanes without blinkers or float between lanes whilst talking on the phone.  Those lack of skills are hard to change.  But manners can be changed.  We just have to remember, we’re not the only ones out there.