For real estate professionals, multitasking is a way of life.
Do you pride yourself on being a capable multitasker?
Despite the perceived usefulness of your multitasking, it’s a habit you should reserve only for times of total necessity. Otherwise, you risk operating at a far lower efficiency.
Why? Simply put, multitasking is harmful to your ability to develop and maintain skills in the long run. Neuroscientists have proven that multitasking makes your brain less effective at every individual task you are performing. Although you might be doing more simultaneously, you are hurting your overall productivity.
Most real estate professionals will proudly identify as capable multitaskers, and those of you who are reading this right now are probably skeptical, but hear me out — I support you, I really do.
The paradox of multitasking
There is a paradox of multitasking that in order to function at the highest level, you must learn and master. Here it is: The less time you spend multitasking, the more able you are to multitask, and vice versa.
That’s right. You need to stop multitasking so that you can multitask. I’ll explain.
Multitasking is the simultaneous performance of skills or tasks that you are so capable of, and you can do them quickly, in the midst of many distractions. So multitaskers, be proud for a moment — you’re great at what you do.
However, in order to develop a skill to the extent that you can perform it quickly and in the midst of many distractions, you need to spend a great deal of time first mastering that skill in isolation.
You need to learn to drive before you can hit the highway
Your brain grows and learns by converting your lived actions into neural pathways and reactions — automatic impulses that progressively improve your ability to perform the action you are learning.
If you spend only a small amount of time developing a skill in isolation, your brain will develop the neural pathway equivalent of a dirt road. Transport truck-sized thoughts will not be permitted to pass.
However, if you spend a great deal of time developing a skill in isolation, you will develop the neural equivalent of a major highway. A multitude of large, complex thoughts will be permitted to pass along in harmony.
It’s the initial development of these neural highways that allows your brain to facilitate heavy traffic flow or multitasking. However, if your neural traffic system becomes overworked from constant multitasking, your highways will fall into disrepair, and you will suffer the mental equivalent of a traffic jam — a halt in overall productivity.
Schedule your day one task at a time
Whenever it is possible, you must separate your tasks and concentrate on one at a time. For example, if you must respond to a body of emails, put together a landing page, phone clients and write a blog post, try to schedule your day so that these activities can be tackled one-by-one in progression, rather than juggling multiple items on your computer and phone all day.
Use Outlook, or the scheduling app of your choice, to prededicate your time to the tasks you need to accomplish. Book meeting time with yourself so that hours of your day are guaranteed to be distraction-free. Set up necessary distraction guards such as turning your phone to silent, closing your email program or finding an isolated location away from your desk to work for a while.
Although it’s nerve-racking to think of missing a call or an email because you are focusing on something else, the result of your focus should be that you have more overall time to give quality responses to email and phone inquiries. Being fully available on your devices all the time is a common distraction, and cutting back on this type of multitasking will ultimately enable you to be more present and available when your clients need you most.
Avoid multitasking at all costs so as to prepare your future self for those times when multitasking is an absolute necessity. The time you’ve dedicated to performing your tasks in isolated concentration will pay off substantially when you are able to multitask at an extremely high level of efficiency.
Patrick manages the Lone Wolf Real Estate Technologies Blog. He is interested in empowering real estate professionals with dynamic content marketing strategies and recipes for personal success.