I have a confession to make. I hate “to-do” lists. They’ve never worked for me and I’ve made no effort whatsoever to get better at using them as a tool to enhance my productivity. The good news, however, is that I’ve never really needed a bunch of Post-Its or a running list to stay in a productive state for most of my working hours. And as the available deals to be done contracts with the changing landscape, it’s more important that ever before to accomplish as many productive tasks as possible in order to keep your business thriving. Here is my simple philosophy to maximize your time and get more done.
Protect Your Most Important Hours
At Livian DFW, we lead generate from 9AM to 12PM every day. No confusion, no questions asked. Protecting this time is crucial as it leaves no question about when we’re going to accomplish the most important thing we’re doing each day. Lead generation is the life blood of every thriving real estate business, though the truth is that most agents treat their lead gen hours as a fluid concept that can be inserted anywhere into their schedules. More often than not this causes lead generation to take a back seat to all of the day’s other tasks and real estate business owners punching their ticket for another spin on the rollercoaster.
The simplest and most effective thing you can do to enhance your productivity is to isolate the most important thing you must do every day and make a firm commitment to the consistent time at which you’re going to do it. Before you implement anything else, this is a must.
Say ‘No’ A Lot
Time management is like your diet. If you want to eat healthy, it’s a lot more important to say ‘No’ to crappy foods than it is to say ‘Yes’ to healthy ones. By eliminating the stuff that doesn’t serve you, you’re left only with the things that do. Learning to say ‘No’ to things that don’t speak to your vision is one of the most empowering things that you can do for the future version of yourself.
Now, that doesn’t mean saying ‘No’ to everything you enjoy, becoming a workaholic robot and avoiding fun at all costs. Quite the opposite, in fact. Think about it for a moment, how many things do you say ‘Yes’ to because you simply feel socially obligated or just our of pure habit? How much time do you truly spend in places that you really don’t want to be?
Imagine if you were always exactly where you knew you either needed to be to build your life’s vision, or wanted to be because it brings you true joy. How much more would you get done? How much more satisfying would each day be?
The simple truth is that most humans are bad at politely declining. Perhaps out of discomfort or awkwardness. Or maybe we feel obligated to do certain things or spend our time in certain ways. Give yourself permission to start saying ‘No’. You don’t really want to attend your friend’s kid’s third birthday party? Say ‘No’. Don’t feel like going to that training event everyone else is doing? Say ‘No’ and use that time more productively.
We waste an extraordinary amount of time, as a society, in places we don’t want to be wishing we were doing something else. Empower yourself to say ‘No’ and you’ll be amazed at how much more you get accomplished.
Prioritize and Execute
While I don’t like “to-do” lists, I do use a very simple yet effective tool to make sure that I’m focusing on the highest priorities each day. I got this little nugget from a book called 18 Minutes by business consultant Peter Bregman. I’ve created a simple Word document that has six squares on it. Five of those squares represent my yearly goals in different categories in my life. Three are business-related for the different ventures on which I work each day, one is relationship-based and the other is a personal goal, just for me. The last square is where I put what’s called ‘The other 5%’. Essentially all of the things I simply need to do that don’t involve goals, like getting my oil changed.
Each evening I spend a little time updating the most important things I need to accomplish in each of those six areas. When I get to the office in the morning, I print out my fresh priority doc to keep me focused only on the most pressing matters.
I’ve implemented a rule, which Bregman recommends, that if anything on that list remains on there for more than three consecutive days, then I must immediately do it next day or remove it from the list entirely. Using this simple guide has done wonders to keep me out of the weeds and focused on my most important activities each and every working day.
So there you have it. Hopefully a little practical advice that goes a long way for you if you implement and stick to it. Life’s hard enough, there’s no need to make matters more complicated. Block your most important hours, say ‘No’ more often, and use simple guides to keep yourself on track. Anything more is probably overthinking it.
I hope these tips help you improve your productivity and, next time we cross paths, I’d love to hear how you’ve implemented them and the results you’ve seen.