process

Struggling to Get Things Done? Try These 5 Things

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Even the most productive people have their days or even weeks where their productivity struggles or even declines. We’re human, right? But rather that letting your productivity steadily decline into oblivion - focus on curbing your behavior to get back on task. Whenever I find myself struggling with being productive, I implement these five things.

Find the Quiet

Distractions have a funny way of finding us and worse than that, roping us in. Even if you love what you do (which you absolutely should), you likely have certain tasks about your work that you don’t love. These are the tasks that often make us particularly prone to distraction which snowballs into lost productivity. Instead of relying on willpower, which often wains during certain times of the day, focus on eliminating the distractions by finding a quiet space where you can hammer through your task at hand. Reserve a conference room or even consider working elsewhere to find yourself the solitude needed to regain your focus.

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Turn Off Your Phone

I know, the mere suggestion probably gave you goosebumps, but turning off your phone for the sake of productivity can be an extremely powerful practice to regain your productivity. With notifications flying in from every direction, your phone is a constant form of distraction. Just like a quiet space will boost your productivity, so will the solitude of a notification free environment. If the idea of being completely unreachable makes you uncomfortable, that’s okay. You can also utilize the Do Not Disturb feature only allowing calls from certain contacts in the case of emergency (i.e., your child’s school or your spouse). Remember, we aren’t implying that you should go dark for days at a time (although that could be admittedly nice), we’re just suggesting an hour or two at a time.

Organize Your Calendar

I’m a creature of habit, but more than that - I’m a creature of routine and schedule. Why? Because these routines and schedules have helped build positive habits in my life. Put important deadlines on your calendar to remind you to focus on certain tasks at certain times. I strongly suggest using a planner for this, not just your calendar.

Organize Your Space

A messy workspace can be the demise of efficiency and effectiveness. The less time you spend navigating your workspace to find items you need, the more time you can spend on actual productive tasks. I spend time every Friday evening organizing my workspace for the week ahead. It doesn’t take a particularly long time, but the impact it has when I sit down to be productive is exponential.

Build In Brain Breaks

As I said earlier, we’re all human and that means that we all have a limited brain capacity for any task - even our favorite ones. Scheduling through this capacity is a recipe for distraction and disaster. Instead of making large timeblocks, focus on more frequent, shorter time blocks. For example, I have four thirty-minute time blocks for emails each day that allow me to spend two full hours focused on emails but not fall victim to my inbox (the to-do list someone else creates for me) all day long!

Say It Out Loud

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One of the guiding principles of my life has always been to lead with heart. It has led me to make some pretty audacious decisions like leaving a thriving business to try something I believed in, moving to places where I’ve known no one all for the chance to make an impact, or even becoming a mom. I never want to look back and think “I wonder what would have happened if I’d bet on myself,” so I’ve made it a practice of always betting on myself. Luckily, it has normally ended up pretty well.

But lately, I have been thinking about all the chances we don’t take because we’re too afraid to say them out loud. Did you know that you become 42% more likely to achieve your goals by simply writing them down? This is a practice I have often used for myself and with our clients and genuinely believe in. And while there are plenty of studies that show the power of keeping those goals to yourself, I believe saying them out loud brings power to the goals themselves. Once you share the goal out into the universe, you can’t take it back and you establish an accountability unlike being able to keep it pent up inside where you’re the only one that has to face potential failure.

Some people call it courageous for living out loud the way I do - never too afraid to take the leap. But I’ve found that even if you bury the truth, it has a sneaky way of following you anyway. The things you want are etched in your heart and your mind, you just have to take action to make them a reality. And the decisions you make with your just the right mix of head and heart - well the power of those decisions can’t be underestimated!

The Problem With Going Through the Motions

There is an old saying that “activity breeds activity” and while I buy into that saying, there is more to it. It has to be the right activity. It has to be pushing you to grow and evolve.

As many of you know, I have been a consistent Peloton rider for just over two years. The bike that goes nowhere has famously taken me so many places moving me to my very core. When I first got the bike, I jumped in and followed every coaching tip the instructors gave - pushing myself to the limits. It worked. I lost almost 30 pounds in 2017 and felt better than I ever had.

But sometime last year between the travel, the exhaustion, and the demands of everyday life, I began to slip. I started gaining back some of the weight I lost and it had a damaging impact on my motivation. Yes, coaches struggle too y’all! I blamed everything from the poor food options in airports (true) to the early wake up calls. And the problem was - I was still going through the motions. I was still getting on the bike every day. I was still riding for the same amount of time. I found myself scratching my head trying to figure out why the workouts weren’t having the same impact.

Feeling extra defeated, I solicited the help of one of my favorite “coaches” - my wife. What happened next was completely unexpected. She looked me dead in the eye and said - “Do you feel like you’ve been pushing yourself or just working out to check it off your list?” In that moment, I immediately realized she was right. For the past few months, I was simply checking my workouts off my list and not pushing myself to grow and challenging myself to reach new milestones.

Coaching isn’t about being perfect, it is about learning how to be the best version of yourself and sometimes that means hearing the tough stuff. I want that in my life. More importantly, I need that in my life to be the person I want to be. Do you?

Trust The Process

In real estate, we talk a lot about trust. After all, trust is the foundation of any great relationship - even the agent-client relationship. But while trust is the goal, trust is not instant and it certainly cannot be taken for granted. Working with a new client isn't all that different from dating. When you first start working with someone new, there is that constant - "how much is too much?" thought that runs through your mind. And just like every real estate training teaches you, you have to earn your client's trust to really be able to deliver excellent service. But, before a client can trust you, they must like you, respect you, and feel the value you bring to their situation. How does that happen? Well, there are a few ways. 

Getting Your Clients To Like You - It seems like an easy enough idea to get your clients to like you, but this is actually slightly more complicated because it involves saying "no" more than it involves saying "yes." They key to getting people to like you is associating with clients who genuinely like the authentic version of you. The reason why so many agents struggle with this is that they are working to develop any client instead of doubling down on the clients that like their working style, understand their value, and truly want to work with them. The key to getting clients to like you is working with client you like first. The rest will fall into place. 

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Respect You - Liking someone and respecting them are two entirely different concepts. Respect, much like trust is earned through reliable, consistent actions. Sure, a certain level of basic respect is assumed; however, you need your clients to not only respect you as a person, but as a professional and that includes respecting the boundaries that you set for yourself. 

Know Your Value - There is a lot of talk about value and knowing your worth, but I am constantly amazed at the number of agents who feel entitled to defend their commission, but have no substantive reason why they are worth it. To earn your commission, you need to not only be able to articulate your value, but to prove it day in and day out. And the funny thing about value is that it looks different for every consumer, every stage of the process, and every perspective. Taking the time to understand your clients' needs beyond just bedrooms and bathrooms is essential to providing great value. 

While these three areas are an easy place to start, great service is more than establishing a good start. Great service is defined in the moments where no one is looking. Great service reflects great character because it shows your desire to do the right thing because you know it is right, not because of some reward at the end of the rainbow. 

Walk a Mile in Someone Else's Shoes

A few weeks ago, my second-grade step-daughter came home with a huge smile on her face telling me about a school project where she and her classmates would stage a wax museum. The students each selected a historical figure, researched their person, wrote a small speech, and then this morning - dressed in costume and recited the speech to parents. The entire concept was pretty neat, but what really struck me was when I was asking my step-daughter about Amelia Earhart (her person), she said this: "Could you imagine flying all the way around the world all by yourself?" 

The question stopped me in my tracks because honestly, I couldn't. What would it feel like to go through that? What would I need to do to prepare for such an undertaking? It sounded lonely. Awful, actually. But what struck me wasn't about how unappealing the prospect of what Amelia Earhart did, it was what the project had prompted an eight-year-old to do that so many adults struggle with - walking a mile in someone else's shoes. 

This got me thinking...do we really know what it is like to be in our client's shoes? I moved about a year and a half ago and the entire process was extremely stressful. Yes, even with two seasoned real estate professionals leading the charge. We knew the intricacies of the process, but the outside factors impacted our stress level in the process. As agents, if we're really aiming to enhance the experience, we have to focus on those factors. The things no one can necessarily control, but that we can impact and help shoulder the burden of. That is going to be the difference-maker. And the first step is understanding what is it like to walk in someone else's shoes. 

We're All A Little Flawed

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I have a confession to make. I'm incredibly flawed. I try not to be, but I am. Try as I might, there are times that I stumble, times that I fail, and times that I let people down. It gets to me and that's when I have a choice to either let my head play out every worst case scenario, or to dust myself off and rise to the occasion. We all have these choices and how we choose makes all the difference. 

A friend once told me about a Japanese practice called "kintsugi." In this process they repair a broken object with precious metals - liquid gold, liquid silver, or lacquer dusted with powdered gold. The process not only repairs the broken object, but highlights the breaks - celebrating them as value, not flaw. I adore this practice because it makes me think of the human story. We're all a little broken and flawed, but I have always believed that it is those very flaws that make us who we are. Each flaw has a story, a lesson, and a seed of growth. 

When I work with teams and brokerages, I often suggest an activity where they openly identify not only their strengths, but their weaknesses. I encourage every member of the team to identify these qualities both in themselves and in their colleagues. Admittedly, this exercise can get a little uncomfortable, but the result is truly amazing. What comes out of this exercise is not unlike kintsugi. Individuals not only gain a deep understanding of what they do well, but what they struggle with, too. Their weaknesses are celebrated equally with their strengths. You see, only when you identify what you struggle with are you able to improve and grow those skills. Further, you're able to leverage those around you. To me, this is what true growth is all about.

Admitting the flaw can often be the hardest part. We don't want to be vulnerable so instead, we charge ahead. The beauty in admitting your flaws is that you begin to see the strengths of those around you - both in your professional and your personal life. You begin to identify who you can turn to and lean on in times of need, and that...well, that is nothing short of perfect.  

Honor The Struggle

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We have established the importance of incremental growth; however, what we didn't dive into is the struggle associated with that growth. Trust us when we tell you, we get it.  The struggle is real. But, the struggle is also necessary to achieve great things. When we are growing, building, and advancing - the natural desire is for an easier way. We're in a time of life hacks and shortcuts, but as a coach, I assure you - there is no hack to success. There is a struggle, but instead of fearing the struggle, we must learn to honor the struggle as part of the larger process. 

As I coach, I am particularly attuned to what differentiates high performers from low performers, and while habits are the main differentiator, more recently I have been intrigued by specifically what habits make a difference. In Brendon Burchard's book, High Performance Habitshe explores this idea of honoring the struggle in depth. 

He makes the point that our society has glorified avoidance of the struggle versus honoring the struggle, which is a big mistake. This concept of an easy way out is particularly prevalent in the training and coaching industry. People want you to simplify the content, find an easier process, or even a shortcut; but my question remains - if we are always telling people to do what is easy, why would they ever embrace the things that are hard? Well, they wouldn't. Are you looking for the easy way out? Hopefully not, and here's why...

High performers don't just honor the struggle, they welcome the struggle. They shift their mindset to prepare for the struggle, then welcome the struggle, and eventually even build off their struggle to grow their character into who they need to become rather than leaning on who they are. What if you adopted that mindset? What if you were willing to meet your challenges head-on instead of trying to avoid them? Would your life look drastically different? I bet it would. 

Setting big goals requires big work. Big work requires big belief. And, well, big belief requires big faith. Faith not just that you are already capable of achieving great things (which you probably are), but that to achieve things beyond your wildest dreams - you will do what it takes to get there - struggle or not. You're committed to refine your skills, learn new skills, and build a big, badass life. So go on...what are you waiting for?

Doing Things That Scare You

Have you ever been up at 4 am and watched the crazy infomercials that come across TV? As a business-owner, I actually suggest watching once in awhile. Sure, some of the stuff is cheesy, catchy, and borderline crazy; but some of the products do exactly what great products should. The product solves a problem. What most of these products have in common though is that someone watching is sitting on their couch saying "I thought of that!" Here is the difference though - the person on the couch never did a damn thing about it. 

I think Eleanor Roosevelt was onto something when she gave the advice to "do one thing each day that scares you." Reading quotes like that inspires us. They ignite the fire inside us that make us feel like we can achieve anything. But then, we are faced with executing on ideas. Talk about something that scares you! Taking an idea from execution is just about as scary as it gets sometimes. Especially if you're a big thinker. Ideas inside are head are safe - from judgement, from failure, from difficulty; but when we bring our ideas out into the light of day and say "I'm going to _____!" Well then, shit gets real. 

Last week, I wrote about your team and how we all have one. What I alluded to is that your team is the group that gets you through the tough stuff. Well, your team is who gets you through the stuff that scares you. Having outside perspective can often provide much needed clarity to situations because the outsiders aren't emotionally tied to the idea. They are in execution mode - emotionally unattached, laser-focused on how to get from A to B - without much concern as for why B is so important. This is really difficult for the "idea person" to face. Why? Well, when ideas are faced with judgement, possible criticism, or worse - pivot - it can be really difficult for the person who was originally tied to the idea, but it is the key to great execution. 

You see, you don't have to be an "idea guy" to have great ideas. People have great ideas all the time. And almost just as frequently, people talk themselves out of great ideas. What you have to have is the people that help push you from idea to execution. Who are those people for you?

 

 

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