Samantha Xerri: What my toddler taught me about planning

In the fast-paced world we live in, being organised and having the ability to forward plan is a necessity in most roles.

Whether you’re answering calls at the front desk of an agency or managing 1000 managements and 20 staff, planning has to be a priority.

As a coach and 20-year veteran of the property industry, it’s safe to say my organisation skills are a thing of beauty – or should I say they ‘were’ a thing of beauty.

Enter – the toddler. 

If you’re familiar with any kind of time-management or organisational styles floating around in the universe, you’ll have heard all manner of preachy ideals about how to stay on top of your workload and not let distractions get in the way of your goals.

And if you asked me two years ago, I would have been drinking that Kool-Aid with you. 

When you have a living, breathing tornado thrown into your world though, you start to appreciate how unavoidable distractions can impact your perfect daily schedule.

So, I’ve compiled a few little comparisons between life as an agent, and as a mum of a toddler to help you with your 2024 planning, so you don’t feel like you’re fighting that battle alone.

What my toddler taught me: 

  1. Setbacks aren’t always a bad thing

I’m ready to leave the house and all my toddler wants to do is play with his trains. I don’t want to be late (because I’m a property manager and we are never late!). Why can’t he just drop everything he’s doing to accommodate someone else like I always do? 

Sometimes, you are going to be carrying out a task or an activity that you are really in the zone with.

There is power in letting your mind fully experience that joy, without constantly worrying about where you have to be.

Although you can’t leave all your clients waiting while you play with trains, planning time to be immersed in an activity fully, without distraction or an agenda is extremely liberating. 

Equally, spending an extra five minutes with your junior while they understand a concept, despite having to be somewhere, will teach them the skills they need to grow and benefit your team into the future. 

Embrace setbacks for what they really are.

Time and space needed to appreciate a moment, because sometimes you don’t get that moment again.

  1. The true meaning of ‘failing to plan = planning to fail’

There was a time I fully embraced my erratic toddler’s behaviour and thought ‘there’s just no point planning anything, because it never works out’. Some days I had no plan or goal and it was magic. We could play and choose activities on a whim. But long periods of this soon turned into annoyance, boredom and worse, procrastination! Unable to make any decisions, I was feeling worse than if I had made plans and failed at them. 

The thing is, sometimes you’re going to make plans and, for whatever reason, they don’t work out.

But that’s OK. You can take that amazing plan and move it to another day, time or place.

You can adjust it to fit with the changing landscape of your day.

It’s called an ‘ideal week’ for a reason. 

Planning for a few ‘free’ days is also great, because it gives you the freedom to hop on a train to the city for a day out, meet up with an owner or pop to the local coffee shop and hang out with your people.

The key word here is ‘plan’. Then go with the flow baby!

  1. Sometimes the best things happen in ‘accident town

The coolest new park opened down the road, and my toddler was so excited to visit it. On our journey, I lost my way and we end up circling suburbia, searching for the playground oasis. Finally, we see a swing set! Off he runs, at full pelt to play and be merry. It was the coolest playground ever!  Only …it wasn’t the playground he wanted. It was an old one that I hadn’t visited before. 

Often, we’re so worried about getting everything right, that we forget what we are doing when we ‘fail’.

We’re learning!

We find a new route, a new way of doing things or a way to definitely not do things.

And we’re adding to our repertoire and knowledge.

Experience is not about years, but the experience in those years.

If you’ve not failed, have you really lived? 

So, when you’re writing your plans and goals for the rest of the year, write with unadulterated abandon!

Write as though you can’t fail.

And then, when you meet setbacks, failed plans and accidental wins, you can change and adjust.

Then you will look back in glory at everything you achieved. You’ve got this!

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