How many times have you been interrupted whilst in the middle of a task? How frustrated do you get when you have to start all over again because you had to take an urgent call and lost your train of thought? This happens to us every day within our job, and let’s be honest, it is hard to avoid.
I have found over the years that I am good at blocking out distractions because I have a one-track mind.
If someone comes up to my desk when I am in the middle of something, they get ignored. If the phone rings (depending on the task I’m doing) it goes to voice message, after all that’s why we have voicemail. If the fire alarm goes off in the building and I’m doing something important… yeah, I would be lying if I didn’t say I’m the first out the door; but you know what I’m getting at.
It has taken me years to be able to do this, not because it’s something I can’t control, but because my clients and colleagues have started to understand the way I work. If you leave me a voice message, you know the call is getting returned that day regardless. My colleagues now drop a quick email to me instead of waiting at my desk. In that note they’ll ask me to come see them when I have a minute. It is a bit selfish in a world where as a property manager we bend over backwards to help people, but it’s the only way to keep me on track and complete tasks efficiently.
Let’s look at the facts. The following things are known to be true, and yet many of us will continue doing them:
- If you make eye contact with the person at your desk, it’s all over. You have to be willing to talk then and there.
- If you swing your chair around when talking, you better have 10 minutes to do so because they’re not leaving your desk.
- If you don’t return the call, they’re calling back! And calling angry! Just return the call; it will help in the long run, but keep your promise of returning the call that day!
- If you take the call, you need at least 10 minutes to get back on track.
I’m not a big fan of putting earphones in to ‘block out’ the noise though, you don’t need to. We are in real estate and should be speaking to people every day. Headphones bury this and make us hard to get in touch with. Besides, I could be writing an email and end up typing the song lyrics, or at least my version of the lyrics…
Now, I don’t expect you to bury your head in the sand. All my suggestions above are situational; you need to be reasonable with what is urgent, and what can wait. It’s all about customer satisfaction at the end of the day, and ignoring your customers won’t get you this, but by responding every time they call you, well then you are creating a negative expectation. On the flip side, if they leave you a voicemail knowing with confidence that you get back to them each and every time, they will start to understand your timeframes and adapt to the way you work. But remember, this only works if they have positive experiences with you.
These are called habits and we all have them. Start creating good habits today so your job becomes easier and you work on your time, rather than letting people get in your way. It won’t happen overnight, but you can be assured you can eliminate a lot of distraction if you choose to.