Listen up: hard work alone won't make you successful. Most of us, myself included, have bought into the belief that if you hustle or grind and work 24/7, you are going to be successful.
A lot of us have probably stayed at the office and burned ourselves out or just driven ourselves into the ground trying to work our way to success. But hard work alone is not the only way to be successful, or the best way. There are many ways to achieve success. As we all know, we all only have 24 hours in a day. It's what you do with those hours that is going to determine if you're successful or unsuccessful.
There are many great resources out there when it comes to getting inspired to work smart. One of my personal favorites is a book by Chet Holmes,The Ultimate Sales Machine. He talks about being tactical versus strategic, and he explains it extremely well.
So, let's talk about some methods and ways of thinking to make sure that you're focusing on the right stuff, rather than trying to focus on everything.
We've all heard the word efficiency, but what exactly does it mean?
I define efficiency as using time wisely to increase productivity, while maintaining balance. When we are efficient, we are not wasteful, and we steadily make progress.
That’s working smart.
Here are key strategies that can help you become more efficient.
- Listing and prioritizing necessary tasks
- Setting clear boundaries
- Communicating effectively
- Using logic
- Tracking results
- Learning from mistakes
Now let’s break them down.
List and Prioritize Tasks
It’s crucial to have a task list — and I’m not just talking about a hastily scrawled note in a cellphone. Everyone needs a comprehensive plan to stay focused. Whether you choose to use pen and paper or software on your laptop is up to you. Just make sure you break down the list into short and long-term goals.
Of course, we can’t always accomplish everything we need to do in a day — or even a month. Sometimes, the kids have a soccer match or the neighbor stops by in the middle of an evening cold-calling session. That’s why, even after we’ve listed tasks, it’s a great idea to number them in order of importance. That way, if we get interrupted and lose out on time, we can address the most crucial matter next.
Set Clear Boundaries
For some people, the line between work life and personal life is non-existent. Maybe you’re happy to answer an email at 11 p.m. or study reports over a stack of Sunday pancakes. But even if this is your “normal,” it’s obviously not an ideal way to live.
It may sound counterproductive at first. Isn’t it good to work around the clock? Isn’t that the American dream?
Well, my answer is no. With clear boundaries between our work lives and personal lives, we actually make the most of our allotted work time.
To set boundaries, first, define which hours in a day, week, and month you will not be working. Then, don’t do anything work-related during those hours — that means checking emails on your phone, replying to clients, reading reports or anything else. Instead, savor the down time, and come back to work feeling motivated.
If being unresponsive stresses you out, you can set up automated email and text responses when you’re not actively working. Simply state that you’ve received your client’s message and will get back to them as soon as possible when you resume work.
Setting up automated emails is typically as simple as going into your email server’s settings, typing in a message and choosing the time frame for the message to send automatically.
As for text message automation, try one of these applications.
- Android: “Do It Later Text Message Automation” - This app lets you schedule messages and reports when the message has been successfully delivered.
- iPhone - “AutoSender” - This app not only lets you schedule and automatically send messages, it keeps a history of the sent texts.
Consider a scenario where a client or colleague asks you to be available at a certain time, but you already have a prior obligation. Yet, instead of communicating what works for you, you simply accept the imposed change to your schedule and scramble to get everything done. This not only affects the quality of the work you were planning to do but can also negatively impact your interactions with the person or people you agreed to meet with.
Situations like these can easily be avoided if we tell people what works for us and what does not. All of us — myself included — get shy about saying “no,” but polite communication actually saves time. It promotes compromise, instills confidence, gains us respect from others and eases our stress because we aren’t trying to juggle too many things.
Instead of just saying “yes” to someone’s request, try responding with a few other times that work better for your schedule.
Approaching work challenges with logic is absolutely necessary. The alternative — feeling angry, sad or discouraged at every little thing — is not only exhausting, but wastes our time. Of course, humans are going to feel things, but it’s important not to allow our feelings to control our careers. Whether it’s a dissatisfied client or a financial slump, solving any problem with logic ensures we make the best of things and move forward.
Here’s an example. Suppose you had a prospect who plans to list a beachfront property with you, but at the last minute, they decide to pull out. An emotional reaction would be to stew over the loss and feel dejected about the possibility of listing other homes. A logical reaction would be to call up the prospect and earnestly ask for feedback on why they chose another agent, then use that feedback to improve.
Try this trick. Write out a recent scenario where you responded with emotion. Then, rewrite it as though you responded with logic and imagine how things might have gone more smoothly. Remember, emotions make us tired and cause us to ruminate over problems, when we should be taking action.
Let’s suppose you implement a new tactic for reaching leads — but then you don’t record how many you reached out to, how many called back, and why they called back. Because you failed to track these results, you aren’t sure if your new method was an overall success. This is not working smart.
No matter what results you’re working with — prospects calling you back, annual sales — always track them so you know what worked (and what didn’t). If you don’t, you risk repeating activities that are not successful.
Learn from Mistakes
There is no point in tracking results if we don’t learn from our mistakes. Just as a student studies the marks his teacher makes on a paper to see what should be improved, you, as a Realtor, should study results — even the not-so-great ones — to learn what to do and what not to do in the future.