There are 8 people who work in my office. All of them have different roles and responsibilities to move our real estate investing business forward. This does not include our full time rehab crews or our outside agents who also support the business. We have a great team of people, and I am blessed to work with them. However, as my business has grown, I’ve learned that more people in the office also equals more of my attention getting diverted away from other priorities.
Even as I sit here and try to write this blog, I’ve responded to 2 text messages and a phone call. In this technology driven world, communication is as easy as the push of a button. While this can be a great thing, it can also be a detriment.
Having spent some considerable time reading books and thinking through the dilemma of compromised productivity, I’ve made some changes in my business and habits to help overcome these challenges.
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1.) Don’t Multi-Task If You Want to Be Productive
I’ve come to learn that trying to do multiple tasks at the same time is never as productive as focusing on one thing at a time. (There are a handful of studies that have been published that back this up.) The problem is that as you switch from one task to the next, there is lost time while you reorient yourself to the new task and then reorient yourself back to the old task. Not only that, the quality of the work is typically not as good as if each task had your full attention.
In my business, I found that as I buried my head in something, I was constantly being interrupted with phone calls, emails, requests from colleagues, etc. I knew I needed to make a big change in my work environment in order to preserve my productivity (and sanity). I actually made the decision to create an office for myself away from the primary business office. Now, I spend my mornings in a quiet, private office with no interruptions or distractions, and I am able to simply focus on my most important work.
2.) Re-Think Your To-Do List
The very first day of work at my first “real” job, I was given a lesson on how to manage a to-do list. I was 23 years old and had just graduated from business school. My manager took me aside on the first day and showed me how she kept a spiral notebook and a running to-do list of all the work she needed to get done. Fast forward 15 years, and I still use a spiral notebook to keep track of all the people who need to get called back, all the problems that need to be addressed, all of the daily tedium that clamors for my attention.
While using this system has been very effective for me over the years, I’ve come to learn that operating a business off of a to-do list is typically reactive rather than proactive. At the end of each day, if I’ve responded to all of my emails and checked off all the items on my to-do list, I feel a sense of accomplishment. However, simply checking off all of the immediate tasks of the day rarely moves the business forward. If you are not moving your business forward and achieving the goals you set for yourself, a to-do list can actually create a false sense of accomplishment.
I’ve had to learn that it’s more important to set priorities for my day, week and month and set my attention to accomplish those high priority items first. I’ve come to terms with the fact that there will be tasks on my to-do list that don’t get done because I am investing my time in other, higher priority tasks that tangibly move the business forward.
3.) Time-Blocking is Essential
Another very important habit that I have had to implement in my business is time-blocking. Time-blocking is essentially the act of creating blocks of focused time where you can work and not be interrupted. Most people who time-block turn off their phones, close their email, and let others around them know that they cannot be interrupted during this block of time.
Time-blocking is essential to moving your business forward. It’s a time where you can put your head down and work on what your business needs the most at that moment in time. Whether it’s only an hour a day or four hours a day, finding the time to put in focused, uninterrupted work can be a game-changer in your business.
Opening your eyes to productivity killers and implementing just a few simple strategies in your daily work life can make a world of difference in your business. Whether you need to make a few small adjustments or find an entirely new office to work out of, taking the initiative to increase your productivity will always be worth the effort.
What about you? What have you done in your work life to overcome productivity killers?
Let me know with a comment!