In a world filled with instant access to information, smart phones, computers, emails, texts, coworkers and friends, finishing a solid eight hours of uninterrupted work seems nearly impossible in the world of real estate. Avoiding these distractions, however, is not a Herculean task. Just like getting to the gym each day and exercising, staying focused in real estate, while at work is a matter of building good habits and knowing what those good habits are. Let us have a look at some of the focus building habits you can implement now and take control of yourself and your real estate career.
Focus Habit #1 – Set clear goals: Instead of saying, “I’m going to work a solid eight hours every day,” make a list of your top priorities for the week. This helps you avoid reacting to every distraction that comes up. Review your list each morning and decide—realistically—what tasks you can accomplish that day. Be concrete: “I’m going to finish steps 1-3 of the project by noon.” Brian Tracey refers to eating the frog and choose to get the important things done first and get them done early before the distractions kick in.
Focus Habit #2 – Work in 60-90 minute blocks: As we work, our alertness drops off, increasing the lure of distractions. Set a timer and take a break at the end of each cycle. Reset your focus by listening to music for a few minutes, taking a short walk, or going for lunch. Sadly the average north American adult attention span is something like 22 minutes or less. So plan your day in 60-90 minute blocks and take a small break every 22 minutes to reload and reengage!
Focus Habit #3 – Turn off the world: What?! Turn the devices off! Are you crazy Wade? Let’s face it, the world is a distracting place. Avoid temptation by severing all ties. This includes email, office phones, cell phones and your coworkers. This might require finding a quiet place away from your office to work—such as booking a conference room or hiding out in your office. If you need to, set up a system for urgent messages to reach you. This doesn’t include where to go for happy hour. The medical profession is now treating more people for addictions to their devices and actually named it “FOMO” the fear of missing out.
Focus Habit #4 – Schedule distractions: Distractions are not all bad, but you need to make them work for you. Use them as reward for a solid chunk of work. Start out with distractions that are good for you, such as working out or calling your friends. If Facebook and Twitter are your thing, block off time in your schedule to post or browse other people’s updates, but stick to your schedule. Remember, you control the distractions.
Focus Habit #5 – Practice not being distracted: Meditation is a great way to do this because it’s just you and your thoughts. If that’s not your thing, practice single-tasking throughout your day. At lunch, just eat. Don’t read the newspaper or check your email at the same time. In meetings, don’t doodle in your notebook or play with your phone. I personally need to just take a bit of time to just be still, alone and do nothing in my day to calm myself down.
Focus Habit #6 – Pay attention to yourself: Start to notice when and how you get distracted. What thoughts happen just before that? Are you tired, hungry, or bored? As you learn what triggers your distractions, you can cut them off before you slip into an hour-long IM chat. I notice myself wandering or not being present and bring myself back quickly by having awareness and training myself to be more present.
Focus Habit #7 – Use technology to your advantage: From blocking out distracting websites to tracking how much time you spend surfing the web, many apps can actually help you stay focused like Rescue Time. Once you identify what your habits are, pick one that will help you meet your goals, but don’t let these become distractions in themselves. Best focus tools I recommend are simple things like real time voice message that let callers know you will be returning calls at certain times of the day. The other is auto email responders that advise everyone you will be replying to email at certain times in the day as well. Both respond to the sender immediately but allow you more control to maintain your focus and respond at those times in your day and stop reacting!
These are just a few focus habits that you can implement today and help you maintain better focus and control in your day and your business. I dare you to try just one and write me back how they are working and post any other great focus tips you may use yourself and your real estate business and start to be more proactive and less reactive in real estate.
Strength and courage,
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