REALTORS® are by nature multi-taskers — we have to master a million different disciplines, run from meetings to showings, take phone calls, answer emails, check Twitter and then live our regular lives. All this multi-tasking, not to mention personal distractions, can decrease productivity and cause workplace stress.
Do you find yourself working longer hours, or working at home on the weekend because your work days aren’t as productive as they could be? Are interruptions like phone calls, co-workers and meetings, and social media slowing you down? Do you wish there were more hours in the day and more days in the week.
We’re here to help. Here are 5 Tips to Manage Distractions in your workday, and help you become a more productive REALTOR® in a multi-tasking universe.
Master your Interruptions
REALTORS® are people in high demand – from clients, colleagues, friends and family. Rather than fight this fact, master it. Over the course of the workday you will face a number of interruptions – from a colleague wanting advice to a client with an urgent question. Instead of fighting the inevitable, keep your cool, address the party who wants your attention and either bookmark where you’ve left off for less urgent work or tell the person when you’ll have time to answer their question or concern. People would rather hear, “I’m just wrapping up a project, can I call you in 20 minutes?” than being greeted with an annoyed face and given off-the cuff advice. Also, be sure to give yourself a little more time to complete tasks, since distractions are inevitable. Building these buffers into your expectations will reduce stress and make your to-do list a lot more manageable.
Know Your Productivity Sweet Spot
Some people work best in the morning and some work best at night. What’s your productivity sweet spot? Try this experiment: For one work week, track how you feel each hour. Energy, concentration and state of mind (positive, neutral, negative). Do you see a pattern emerging? Are you most energetic at the beginning of the day? Do you find your concentration waning right around lunch then rebounding after you’ve had something to eat? Locate your sweet spot and use those times to get your serious work done. Limit the distractions in these zones so you can work quickly and effectively when you’re most suited to crossing things off your list.
Short breaks during the day aren’t only encouraged, they’re essential to remaining productive and working effectively. Not only is stress an issue, but prolonged work, especially at a computer, causes health problems such as eye strain and back issues. Don’t let distractions or crises get in the way of taking breaks. Hit the reset button! Schedule short five-minute breaks each hour to prevent reaching your work and stress limit. These breaks don’t need to be long – five minutes is usually enough to clear your head, stretch, and change your environment – but they’ll do you a world of good. It’s important to remember that breaks need to be restorative, not talking about work in another part of the office. Pause, refresh, refuel and then return to your tasks on-time. Program breaks into your email system or on your phone, or use one of these handy computer programs to remind you when to take five.
Smash Your Phone (Don’t Really)
The mobile phone is an amazing invention that many people can’t live without. It’s no secret that phones are becoming a part of everyday interaction – even when people are sitting face to face at a restaurant (watch this interesting video about our culture of distraction). The trouble is, we’re being controlled by our phones as much as we’re controlling them. When it beeps (email!) we jump up. When it rings (Mom!) we answer. And when it’s quiet for too long, we’re worried that it’s dead so we play a few rounds of Words with Friends and check Twitter. Smash your phone (metaphorically). Silence it when you’re working on key projects that require your undivided attention. Limit the number of times you check your email and social networks and, especially on weekends, try to go a whole afternoon or, GASP, a day, without taking your phone with you when you spend time with your family or just relaxing.
Change Your Location
Sometimes a change of scenery is all you need. If you work in a busy office, try setting up at a coffee shop for the afternoon or working from home once a week if it will help you limit distractions and focus. Conversely, if you work from home and find yourself distracted by family, TV or your DVD collection, get out of the house and work remotely or even rent space at a number of affordable community office set-ups like Ann Arbor, Michigan’s, Workantile Exchange. Go where you can put your head down a focus for a little while.
What are your tips for managing the day’s inevitable distractions? Have you ever been able to leave your phone at home for an entire day without feeling separation anxiety? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below.