For real estate professionals, multitasking is a way of life.
Do you pride yourself in 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 than you are capable of.
Why? Simply put, multitasking is harmful to your ability to develop and maintain skills in the long run. Multitasking has been proven by neuroscientists to make your brain less effective at every individual task you are performing. While 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.
There is a paradox of multitasking that you must learn and master in order to function at the highest level. 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/tasks that you are so capable of that you can do them quickly and 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.
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.
Whenever it is possible you must separate your tasks and concentrate on only one at a time. If you must respond to a body of emails, put together a landing page, phone clients and write a blog post, for example, 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 pre-dedicate your time to the tasks you need to accomplish. Book out 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 greatly when you are able to multitask at an extremely high level of efficiency.