A storm warning cutting in to our favorite television show. A phone call during family dinner. A pop-up window while we’re finishing an online article.
No one likes interruptions. They are things that get in our way or pull our attention from the task at hand. They can come in the form of disturbances by other people who are seeking our opinions or insights or they can come from inanimate objects like smartphones or tablets.
They are pings, bells and whistles. They can also be disguised as horns honking, plates crashing or glass breaking. An untimely traffic jam (is that an oxymoron?), an unexpected visitor or a sudden health issue can all derail us from our chosen task.
So how can we avoid them…and avoid being them?
Focus is critical
We teach new drivers the importance of eliminating distractions such as changing channels on the radio and certainly the safe initiative of “No Texting and Driving.” Athletic teams practice by piping in sound and crowd noise to prepare for an opponents home court. Sound-cancelling head phones have never been more popular.
“In a digital world, there are numerous technologies that we are attached to that create infinite interruption.” Tim Ferriss
Have you turned off your notifications on your smart phone or does a light blink or buzzer sound every time you get a text message, email, mention on Twitter or response on Facebook? Does your phone get turned off and all calls sent to voice mail while you are doing your business development activities each day or do you allow your phone to control you? How many windows do you have open right now as you’re reading this?
Planning your day could certainly help avoid or eliminate interruptions. Adding things to your “to do list” is great but then you must prioritize those items before beginning to complete them and cross them off. In real estate, the best way to prioritize tasks is to take the first two items on your list and ask yourself a simple question – “Which one of these two tasks gets me closer to a closing?” Whatever the answer is takes priority. Then look at the next two items and repeat the process and continue until you have your list prioritized. Now start performing those tasks until you are done. [Note: If nothing on your list gets you closer to a closing (or goal), you have the wrong things on your list!]
Some other things you can do to avoid interruptions (or being one to someone else):
- Do you have an office door? Shut it every now and then. If you’re concerned about seeming un-cooperative or if you have an “open-door policy,” simply place a sign on your door during your “dialed-in time” saying “Do Not Disturb” or “Building Relationships.” People will understand. Who knows, some people might even be inspired to do the same.
- In a cubicle environment? Utilize your office conference rooms. Rarely are they always being used.
- Designate times for social media, email and other dynamic activities that could affect your attention and focus. It’s easy to say you’ll check email or jump on Instagram for just a minute. An hour later you’re still reading feedback, comments and running down some other rabbit hole.
- Avoid the web unless you have a specific destination. Play the role of a strict Hawaiian mother with school kids – No surfing until the homework and chores are done.
- Remember that the MLS is nothing more than a website. Run your searches and reports and then log off. Much like when we go to the mall with nothing specific to buy, we’ve all spent too much time “just looking” on the MLS.
- The only apps you are allowed to use during business hours are on your home page of your phone or tablet. If it is a distraction app or game, it doesn’t deserve real estate on the front page. Like food on your diet, making it harder to get to might be all it takes to avoid its temptation.
So what do you do to stay focused and avoid interruptions? Is it easier or harder for you in your business life or personal life?
Remember – it’s all about building relationships, solving problems and having fun. Focus on those three things.
Everything else is just an interruption.
Photo Credit: Derek Gavey