Written By: Scott Renaud
Maybe it has always been this way, but it seems like the world has become a busy place. Everywhere I go, there is one constant theme: “We’re really busy!” It’s not just in commercial real estate–it’s everywhere. People are on the move, walking a little faster than they used to, tweeting a little faster than they used to and getting bogged down a little more than they used to. Life is a grind and it’s hard to manage.
My life is no different. My wife and I homeschool our three kids (science is a struggle). We try to keep our new puppies out of trouble and it’s not going well. All three kids are in sports with numerous practices and games all week. Have you seen a seven-year-old try to catch a baseball? Ugh! My wife and I try to have a date night here and there that we often call “fake date night” because it’s a beer and leftovers on our back patio while ignoring the kids. And, oh yeah, there’s work.
So, how do we become efficient in this busy world? The truth is, I don’t know. There you have it. Honesty. I can try and try, but it never seems to be totally under control. I can say, however, that I’ve learned a few tricks over the years that help me to do the best I can and can mostly keep me from losing my sanity.
1. Make a List.
Yes, you’ve heard me yapping about Wunderlist! You can use post-it notes if that works for you, but somehow, make a list. The list shouldn’t run your life but it should allow you to stop occasionally, review the list and make a plan of attack.
No matter your position, you need to delegate. That doesn’t mean hand everything to the person standing next to you. But you can make sure the right person is doing the right job and that you’re following up. When emailing anything out that needs a response, use the flags in outlook to mark that email. This will allow you to be articulate on what you need and then forget it. You can check your flagged sent emails at the beginning of each day to make sure your delegated items have been completed.
3. Avoid Interruptions.
Turn off email notifications on your computer and phone. Review your emails when you’re ready, not when they pop up on your screens while you’re focused on something else.
4. Inbox Zero.
Try to end each workday with no unread emails–the illusive “inbox zero.” Move them to a list, flag them, or do something other than leaving them in your inbox unread, silently screaming at you that you have unfinished business.
5. Create Uninterrupted Time.
If you could see my outlook calendar, you will find blocks of time scheduled with things like “12.3 Tax Conversion Training” and “VAV Rebuild Training.” Nope, even I don’t know what those things are. They just lock down my time so I can focus on my priorities without interruption.
6. Make "Some" Progress.
You don’t have to solve the world’s problems in one day, but you can make some progress. You can start. Sometimes your to-do list should include something like, “Make progress on xyz transaction.” Make some progress, check it off your list, and then make some more progress the next day.
Communicate your progress, no matter where you stand. Clients, coworkers, vendors and friends oftentimes just need to hear where the project stands.
8. Make Decisions.
Sometimes, we get in our own way and cause analysis paralysis. Make a decision, live with it, and move on.
9. Let it Burn.
Accept that you can’t do it all and not every fire needs to be put out immediately. I’ve tried–it doesn’t work. Sometimes, the small fires just need to burn while you attend to other things.