Virtual open houses, digital closings, conversations from behind face masks — what productivity looks like for real estate agents this summer covers new terrain for all of us. All June, Inman surveys the New Productivity: the tools, skills and insights needed to make it work now.

From social media alerts to breaking news headlines, today’s distractions can be a hindrance to productivity. And while routines are still in flux as we’re working from home offices due to COVID-19, it takes an even higher level of productivity to keep business operating smoothly.

To help stay focused and maximize productivity, here are some tips I recommend applying to your everyday routine.

1. Get a good start

The first thing most people do when they wake up is reach for their cellphones. As soon as you do, you see texts, emails and calls that need a response; your work day has begun, and the ball is fully rolling.

Before you know it, hours slip away, and it’s the end of the day, and you are ready to relax. I find that if I jump in right away, I have no time to focus on my health and well-being.

It’s important to dedicate at least 30 minutes to an hour first thing in the morning to focus on yourself — to meditate, work out or practice visualization. Get that precious time in before diving into work, and your day will be a lot more productive from the get-go.

2. Create to-do and to-don’t-do lists

Writing a fresh to-do list each morning helps me prioritize where to begin and ensures that I’m dedicating time to the most time-sensitive tasks.

Instead of having multiple checklists on your desk, random Post-it notes on your computer or a digital list on your phone, I recommend designating your list to live in one place for optimal organization and efficiency.

Before going to bed, I make sure to update my checklist with items that will flow into the next day and to visualize what I need to accomplish tomorrow. This helps me start each day proactively rather than reactively.

In addition to making a to-do list, make a to-don’t-do list, too! Write down the list of distractions you will not surrender to. Write down that you won’t check Instagram before finishing the outline to your new listing’s marketing campaign or that you won’t look at your text messages until you finish all your client follow-ups.

Jotting down things we won’t do makes us aware of our distractions and brings us back to our day’s intentions.

3. Avoid multitasking

Surprisingly, multitasking can be disadvantageous. Studies show that every time we switch attention between tasks, we lose focus. To make progress, we need to focus long enough on the task at hand to complete it.

Make an effort to focus on each individual task you outlined earlier that day, and by doing so, you’ll find you’ve made more progress and produced higher-quality results. By focusing on one thing at a time, you will become more productive, and your business will feel the positive effects.

4. Find your optimal focus time

Ask yourself questions, such as where and when are you most productive? These questions will help you decipher your optimal focus time. Internally observe when you’re most focused. Maybe your peak time is when you enter your workspace in the morning with an espresso, or perhaps you get in the zone after lunch.

By determining your golden work hours, you can capitalize on when you’re most alert and schedule that time to get through your most important jobs for the day. It also helps to schedule periods of focus, such as a power hour, and then give yourself short breaks as a reward for your uninterrupted focus.

As we plan to enter the next phase and the start of the new normal, now is a great opportunity to implement these habits to maximize your productivity and return to your business with greater focus than ever.

Santiago Arana is a managing partner at The Agency, in Los Angeles. Connect with him on Instagram.

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