Despite having every tool, gadget, technique currently available to help us work better, faster, smarter, we’re all working longer hours and experiencing increased stress and reduced productivity.  Help!  How about some strategies that help us stay consistently productive and that help us become more efficient, particularly when just starting out as a solo agent without an assistant!

The Critical Path Analysis (CPA) technique is one that just may do the trick. It helps you break down the “big” task into a set of smaller objectives or segmented tasks and then it helps you determine how long it will take to accomplish each one of those smaller segmented tasks. Essentially, this is a chain reaction technique…to get from the start of the project (A) to the end of the project (F), you go from A to B to C and D perhaps simultaneously or sequentially C to D and then you’ll get to F.

Let’s break down the CPA technique:

  1.  List and number the tasks you need to do in order to accomplish the “big” task. Let’s say you’re taking a new listing.  You would A) pick or identify the niche or the neighborhood comparable sales of the listing. B) You would do a keyword search in that neighborhood or niche…4 BD, 4 B, pool, etc. C) You would survey the niche/neighborhood for how many 4BD, 4 B, pool, etc. houses and for what price. D)You would photograph/video/create content for the house. E)You would enter the listing into the MLS. F) You would develop/optimize connections for the house listing, scheduling open houses/previews, contacting your clients/colleagues who might be interested, etc.
  2. Figure out the proper sequence of all these activities.  In other words, you wouldn’t do F before doing B.  And you could do E and F separately or simultaneously, right?
  3. Create a Critical Path Analysis or, as I call it, a Chain Reaction Chart. Note each segmented task with a ballpark estimate of how long it will take you to accomplish that task.  Say the task is A…how long will it take you to identify the comparable sales in the neighborhood of the listing?  Maybe one day (or maybe it will be less) so you chart A/1 day.  Do that for all the tasks…and then connect them all.  A/1day – B/1 day – C/3 days – D/2 days….and on and on.
  4. Calculate how long you think it will take to do each segmented task.  Line them all up.  Then add up the total duration of all the tasks and you’ll get to you best estimate of the total duration of the project from start to end.
  5. Calculate the “float.”  The float is the amount of time you think each task could be delayed due to some reason beyond your control (the seller not having the home ready, the photographer being sick and not showing up, etc.)  Will the “float” affect the project’s time estimate?  Do you need a contingency plan?

You could go on and on by adding more and more details to your CPA…that’s totally up to you and how much you like to do charts and diagrams.  Just remember that the point of the CPA is to help you define each specific task with its best guess time frame.  Figure out the sequence for each task so you’re doing them “in order”.  Add up all the tasks with their time frames…and you’ll have a pretty good estimate of how long it will take you to “do” the big things, but then break them down into smaller more manageable tasks so you can watch your time and efficiency.

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