Are you feeling lethargic? Pulled in too many directions? Are you unable to complete the tasks you used to handle easily? Feeling weighed down and uninspired? Lacking energy and focus? If so, it may be time for what I call the “distraction diet”! I work with real estate agents with varied backgrounds, and varied businesses, in various parts of the country. But here’s what I can tell you most of them have in common: a problem managing distractions. Feed the engine Think of your business as an engine that must be fed. An engine that isn’t fed the right fuel will sputter … and eventually stop running (perhaps stranding you in the middle of nowhere). If the car analogy leaves you cold, how about comparing your business to the human body. Prior to doing an activity – let’s say, playing in a soccer match – do you eat three candy bars and hoist a shot of tequila? Not if you want have a great game, you don’t. Yet many real estate agents feed the same sort of temporarily satisfying but absolutely non-nourishing “work calories” to their hungry business. dis·trac·tion/disˈtrakSHən/ Noun:
- A thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else.
- A diversion or recreation.
I think this definition from Wikipedia perfectly encapsulates the problem with distractions. Sure, they can be fun (otherwise they would just be work, and we would be distracted from them by something else). Distractions draw us in because they either:
- Adds pleasure to our lives
- Remove pain from our lives
It’s that simple. Distractions allow us to take the easy route – the pleasure route. At least for the moment, we avoid the pain. But you and I both know that a distraction is just a temporary turnoff on the road to a successful business! The lie you tell yourself Do you (or did you) have a teenager in your life? Do you remember the battles about turning down the music, or turning off the TV, so they could do a better job with their homework … and how they would try to tell you that they actually get more done with the noise? You tell yourself that same lie if you are allowing distractions in your work life. What gets you off track? Depending in your personality style, your distractions will vary. It could be friends calling or stopping by, social media, nice weather, or surfing the internet, Think about what it is for you … and then, after you’ve finished reading this article, please go to the bottom and send me a response about the distractions in your life. Staying on track Try keeping track of your distractions for a week and see if there are any commonalities. Understanding what’s getting you off track is the best way to start keeping on track. Also look at what you’re being distracted from. What is it that is so unappealing or painful to you that you want to divert your attention elsewhere? Then spend some time trying to figure out why the activity is so repellent to you. It may well be that it’s something you could have someone else handle for you in your business. I’ve spoken before about my “hour of power” – that hour that I dedicate at the beginning of each day with no phones, no email, no interruptions from family or friends. That hour of power ensures that I have a big block of time to get work done each day, and helps make up for potential distractions later on. It is the #1 thing that I’ve built in to my business which has created success for me. If you’re not doing an hour of power, try it! You’ll be amazed by how much you can get done. But of course, you need to be focused for more than an houra day. Here are some suggestions for providing an overall structure to make that easier:
- Set core priorities. What must get done in your business each week? Lead generation? Follow-up? Market research? Previewing properties? Make your list, and figure out frequencies for these activities.
- Determine what keeps you from doing these “musts” – your “distractions” (more on this next week!).
- Start building a series of small good habits and patterns. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and habits are hard to change. But pretty quickly, small habits become easy-to-manage–routines for productivity.
- Have goals in your business. Framing up your daily or weekly activities in this perspective helps you realize that not spending three hours per day on Facebook isn’t going to mean the end of your social life and may actually help you achieve your business goals.
- Create bite-sized bits of work. A three-hour lead generation project too daunting? How about doing it in 30-minute bits instead?
- Track your results! When you can look back to accomplishments that occurred as a result of the distraction diet it’s a whole lot easier to stay motivated when the next one occurs.
- Build in rewards. Only you will know what’s best, of course.
- Block out time. Not just for work – but for fun too!
- Ask friends and family for help. Sharing your goals with those close to you accomplishes two things: 1) it allows them to support you by reminding you to keep on task, and 2) if they are the distraction it can help them understand why you may sometimes need to say “no” to them!
- Remove distractions as best you can! I’m going to talk more about the nuts and bolts of this in next week’s Zebra Report … so watch for that.
Like all diets, the distraction diet requires effort – but boy, will it ever yield rewards! Why not make today the day you start making good “work calorie” choices for long-term, sustainable results? What are the distractions that pull you away from your business? And what is it that you procrastinate – those things that make you welcome the distractions in your life? Tell me – I’d love to know so I can include some hints to help you in the next Zebra Report!