RTRE 47 – Are You Busy or Productive?

Now that we’re a few weeks into the new year it’s time to evaluate our progress. Are we still on target with our goals? Are we busy or are we moving the needle? Join today’s discussion and share your bad habits below.

Episode Transcript


Audio length 22:49

RTRE 47 – Are You Busy or Productive?

[music] [Chris] Welcome to re:Think Real Estate, your educational and hopefully entertaining source for all things real estate, business, news and tech. 

[Christian]: I am Christian Harris in Seattle, Washington.

[Nathan]: Hi, I am Nathan White in Columbus, Ohio.

[Chris]: And I am Chris Lazarus in Atlanta, Georgia. Thanks for tuning in. 

[music] [Chris]: Everybody and welcome back to re:Think Real Estate. I am Chris Lazarus here with my faithful hosts Nathan White and Christian Harris out of Columbus, Ohio and Seattle, Washington respectively. Thank you so much for tuning in. It is a still relatively early in 2019 and we were just talking about you know this is right around the time some people start dropping off their new years’ resolution. So I hope…I know it’s not anybody in our audience [laughter] but now we start to get in the busy time of year and it’s that definition of busy. 

What is busy? Is it…Is it necessarily productive or is busy making us money or is busy just the thing that we have to be doing? Because I don’t know about you all but picking up my thumb that’s like my thing. If I am not doing something right now I start to itch. Like I find myself sitting down sometimes and maybe I will be waiting on somebody for a business meeting and I have to cognitively think like actively think and just saying “You know what I should learn to comfortable just sitting and waiting” and it’s something that is really weird. But when I am in that mode I can actually think about what needs to be done and I think that sometimes when we’re busy we don’t always do that. 

So today we’re gonna be talking about what the difference is between being busy and being productive. Christian? You’re a broker owner, you’re starting up a new company. You’re back into selling. What…like how are you challenged with being busy versus how productive is your busy time?

[Christian]: So you know the funny thing is and I don’t think this is an experience unique to me but when I am talking with other agents or just people in general you know the small talk is you know “How are things going? How are you doing?” And the response 95% of the time is “I am so busy, so busy so much going on”. You know, and I think subconsciously we kind of wear that as a badge of honor like “I am so important that I am busy all the time”. At least in real estate. You know “I am just scrambling around because I got so much work”. 

But the question really is “Is busyness a badge of honor or is that more a sign of no you’re just ineffective in what you do and how you spend your time?” Which is why I find this conversation so interesting because being productive is way different than just being, busy you know. I can be busy and feel like I am getting stuff done by checking off my 2000 emails but you’re not actually moving the ball forward. You’re not actually accomplishing goals versus “I’ve got my dedicated time to do this one task and I am focused on, that’s the only thing I am doing”. 

You know, you can elude to the distractive nature of technology and things these days and make a whole episode on that. But you know I feel that same pull. I am older so and I like to say I am bilingual you know I grew up in a day before the internet and so I remember doing book reports with books you know and card catalogs as the research tools and that sort of stuff you know.

[Chris]: You’re not that old. I still had that.

[Christian]: Yeah I am just saying you know. I remember a day before that and then in my 20s you know adopted technology as in internet and tan smartphones came online and what now. 

[Nathan]: I was using an Atticus.

[Christian]: And so I remember the times of…

[Chris]: Hang on Nate did you just say you were using an Atticus?

[Nathan]: Yeah Atticus. I am the old one out of the group [laughter].

[Christian]: Only by a couple of years. But the point is I feel that pull too to like never have down time. To always be doing something, always be stimulated with input. And usually that’s in the form of I am sitting there like you said in the doctor’s office and I feel the draw. Uncontrolled, my hand reaching my pocket pull out my phone and just mindlessly check Facebook or Instagram or emails like we can allow yourself some time to like reflect and think and ponder which we don’t do a lot so we tend to live our lives in a stimulated anxious responsive posture. Instead of proactive duffle posture.

[Chris]: Definitely.

[Christian]: You know there is a lot in that but I think the business plays into that.

[Chris]: So Nate obviously you’ve shared with the audience that you suffer from ADHD. So is busyness a good thing for you or does that impede your productivity? Like what’s the difference between being busy and being productive for you?

[Nathan]: Yeah I mean that is the million-dollar question right. I can be busy all the time. But I am not producing results. 

[Chris]: Yeah you’re good at that.

[Nathan]: Yeah. So for me it’s about…For me personally again it’s about having a very regimented schedule. I mean those that are friends with me on Facebook whatever they’re like…I actually had someone the other day saying “I don’t know how you do it day in and day out like you check into the gym at 5 a.m.” Like I live and die by a schedule. 

For me to get a result or to have production right productivity instead of me spinning my wheels getting around on Facebook and [censored] around and all that [censored] I have to be very regimented, right. Which means when I get to the offices one if it’s quiet and the first thing I don’t do is I don’t get on Facebook right. I have an order to the way I do things because once I get into those realms if you would than I would squirrel. 

[Chris]: Rabbit hole.

[Nathan]: Yeah squirrel I am all over the place. So I have to be very regimented in what I do. And I will tell you like if I get out of that rhythm it sucks. But when I am in it I am in it. And man I tell you what, I feel great. And so I think you can tell as an agent broker whatever you are you don’t have to have ADHD but you can follow…just have…I don’t know kind of a purpose drill in life. Have a purpose to what you’re doing. You see a lot of the people they get in and then they get on Facebook and then they’re looking at their messages and they’re here and they’re there but they’re busy but they’re not producing any results. 

So I…the way you quantify that to me is did…You know I set a goal list. I have to have a check list. And once I check things off it feels great. I perpetually add to that list. But, you know, in our world how do we judge our productivity? Dollars and sales right? I mean in the restaurant industry they used to say “Sales cure all”. And in our industry I think that’s applicable right. 

How productive are you? You know you have the agent that says “Oh I was such a great year I did a million dollars”. For them maybe it’s great. You have the other ones that say “Hey I did 42 sides or 8 million dollars”. You know I think there’s a big difference of who is productive and who is not. And I am giving to each his own. I am not trying to say that if you did a million dollars in 3 sides or whatever you weren’t productive but let’s be honest you probably weren’t. [laughter] So…

[Chris]: Well I mean you’re right you probably weren’t because the average full time realtors are doing 11 sides a year.

[Nathan]: Is it 11?

[Chris]: I think last I heard.

[Nathan]: That is so many.

[Christian]: That sounds high.

[Nathan]: That sounds high. I thought it was like 6.6 full time.

[Chris]: I think the average full time relator not the average realtor.

[Nathan]: Oh yeah the average full time I get it. 

[Chris]: The average person who makes a career out of it is doing about 11 sides. Not 11 transactions but 11 sides. 

[Nathan]: Remember too we are realtors so what do we like to be about? All about being a realtor right. I mean God Almighty you know Facebook all watch it “#realtorlife #showingthistoday”.

[Chris]: “#blast”

[Nathan]: Yeah like it’s like…Like it’s all about you know last episode, right, we were talking about being client centric. I mean hell that’s all about just being a realtor right. It drives me [censored] crazy. Like #realtor I am like listen our life isn’t that bad right. What we do…

[Chris]: I think what Christian just said a few moments ago is just spot on. It’s about feeling important. People like feeling important and a lot of people in real estate are like “I am a real estate agent. I can help you with the biggest financial transaction of your life. I am so important”. And rather than focusing on going out and getting business and building a business they’re focusing on being a realtor. 

I had an agent that worked with me for a little while. It was a young kid just starting out. And we quickly realized that he was in love with the idea of being successful more that he was willing to work at being successful. And that is a big difference because you can be really busy and be in love with the idea of being successful. You know go to a show room and take picture with a Bentley and you know have your girlfriend modelling in your Instagram account. It really…But if it doesn’t come down to you actually making money it doesn’t really exist. 

So I think that a big thing is feeling important and Christian hit the nail in the head with that. And people can be busy to feel important. That doesn’t mean they’re productive. That doesn’t mean they’re working on their business. So…

[Nathan]: Yeah it takes me about the time one time I…another agent we were talking We did not know each other. We had met and I said “Oh you’re a real estate agent?” she said “Sure I sure am?”. And I said “How did it go last year?” She said “It was great, I closed 4 houses.” [laughter] And I laughed and I said “You’re not really an agent.” She got really mad.

[Christian]: Can’t imagine why.

[Nathan]: [laughter] But again I go back to what you said about what Christian just said. It wasn’t about…I don’t know, I didn’t feel any passion to what she was doing. You know I think those of us who really enjoy what we do we do it because we are passionate about it. Not because we love houses or watch HDTV or anything of that [censored]. Like we love what we do. We love…you know there is that narcissistic side again of you know part of it. But there’s also the feeling of just helping somebody buy their home that is very rewarding. And so I don’t know I could go preach on a lot of different angles on it. 

[Chris]: I couldn’t agree more. Now I think we kind of got the understanding for the audience of what is the difference between being busy and productive. So how do we focus on being productive with our time? How do we focus on not dealing with the busy work? Because there is about 20% of our daily activities that are gonna result in about 80% of our business. The parietal principal works in that way. So how do we take that 20% and be extremely productive in that? So that it is not really blowing out of proportion or taken away from the other aspects of our business?

[Nathan]: How do we…? Are you asking how we measure like…our productivity?

[Chris]: How do we focus? How do we not deal with the busy work?

[Christian]: There’s also all sorts of tactics on focusing. We’ve had several opportunities on it but I think it is good to kind of go over some of the basic stuff because you know even maybe in super organizing systems like think you know “I am efficient with my time” I get distracted you know in real estate you’ve got your phone blowing up in fires. You have that put out and you know  ”I am trying to time block to get this project done and the phone won’t stop ringing”. And you know…

So it could be very challenging but I think kind of like you know quote “new year’s resolution” you just gotta if you follow the horse you gotta make it on keep going. Remind yourself “OK I need to turn off the technology and just be self-aware of like the things that are drawing your attention away from actually being on a state to focus on one thing at a time.” You know don’t buy into this like “I can multitask and I can have my social media up while I am into MLS and while I am drafting an email and working onto the project”. You’re not gonna get anything done and you’re gonna be super stressed out. 

[Nathan]: Multitasking is [censored] people. Multitasking is for people that can’t focus on one thing at a time and complete it. So don’t multitask. Get it done. Sorry I get really weird about that.

[Christian]: Alright there you go.

[Nathan]: Yes. 

[Christian]: You said it. 

[Chris]: You have no compassion for it.

[Nathan]: Yes I can’t stand people saying “I am multitasking”. No you have the inability to focus on one item specifically that’s what that is. That is 100% what that is.

[Christian]: That’s a lack of discipline.

[Nathan]: Yes. There are a million things to…that you can use in tools and resources. Again just daily habits, you know, goals. Writing goals and not looking at them a year later but looking at them daily. Periodically or whatever it is. I mean. Or you can be really anal like me and have a check list. 

[Christian]: Nathan you’re making me feel bad because you know that’s illuminous stuff but I don’t do it all the time. You’re hurting my inner child.

[Chris]: Yeah but…Nate how is that CRM going?

[Nathan]: [laughter] My CRM is going horrible. Why? Because I didn’t put a date on it. I know it. I own it.

[Christian]: What’s your date? Give me a date now. 

[Nathan]: I have not…I don’t have one yet.

[Christian]: What’s your calendar? Do it now.

[Nathan]: I don’t have one yet. I probably…I am actually.

[Chris]: There’s a couple…OK getting back on track I think there is a couple of things that work for me in trying to aim and being more productive. One is, I don’t take on more than I can handle at any given time.

[Christian]: How do you know what you can handle?

[Chris]: Huh?

[Christian]: How do you know what you can handle?

[Chris]: Trial and error. 

[Christian]: OK.

[Chris]: When I realize that I am not spending enough time with the family and some of the projects that I am doing I don’t see a future to, whether that be it doesn’t improve the bottom line, it doesn’t like it’s not gonna be used, the reaction to the agent is not exactly the reaction that I thought it would have. I’ll cut a project. 

I don’t take on too many volunteer roles. Like if I take on a new one I give one up. But when I do something I…when I changing a habit, when I am adding something into my routine, I do it one step at a time. I don’t go and change my entire routine overnight. And for…you can go back over the last 3-4 months and I will talk about how I changed my entire morning routine off of what Nate did after what Obi said after Obi’s show. But start small. Don’t change the whole routine all at once. 

If you’re gonna start using a CRM you dedicate that is what you’re gonna do and you just do that for you know 30 minutes a day every single day and then once you’re used to doing that every single day than you add something on. But you don’t say “It’s 2019 I am not gonna use a CRM I am gonna call everyday, I am gonna follow up with this marketing, I am gonna do this that and the other and I am all gonna start it on January 1 and guess what it’s now a few weeks in and I have dropped off the map”. 

Well you dropped off the map because you have added too much to your plate. Start small than you slowly add on. And then the other thing that helps me be productive is a to-do list. Like what Nathan said. Put a checklist down. I aim for the top 3-5 things that I want to accomplish in a day. I write it down and then those are the first things I work on. So at the end of the day whatever has happened, whatever has gotten done I know that I made at least 3-5 different things that are moving the needle forward in the business every single day. 

So that helps with the busy work. Because busy work comes. I got on 100 agents and it’s all email all the time. Lots of administrative, lots of busy work. But I always get the productive stuff done.

[Christian]: I would love to touch on what you just said because I couldn’t agree more on the…because I was just the king of it for the longest time, taking on or challenging myself to something that was too big instead of thinking about it logically. So I look at it from a new agent perspective. I mean you meet a new agent. New agent says “Yeah I wanna do 7 million in sales next year” [laughter]. “OK right. Yeah right”. 

We laugh now right and I would love to see it. But how about instead of saying 7 million in sales lets focus on just the first one. Right. And I think it’s our human nature to set these lofty goals and then we fall short. We get discouraged and then we just quit at it right? It’s OK to have a goal that is somewhat ambitious. But don’t…we all know that if it’s not within reach it’s not worth doing. I mean myself I got a …I got a running partner, Jason Perkins here in town and we both thought about signing up for something called the Moab, 240, it’s a 240 mile single loop run through in Moab, Utah, Arches national part of that whole area. 5…5 days around this thing. 

I really want to do it. I like…It’s on my list. And he said “Do we want to do it this year?” And I had to think through that for about 3 weeks. And as much as I wanted to say “Yes let’s do it this year” I said “Eh I need another year to prepare”. You don’t know how its gonna be but than it’s a little more realistic. To say “I can go on and achieve that”. Maybe I could have done it this year. Maybe not. I think it probably wouldn’t have happened but I rather give myself time to prepare to do some other thing. So coming from me, the guy who loves the big things, stepping back and really taking that hard look in the mirror, evaluating what your goals are I think it’s huge. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

[Chris]: Absolutely. That’s been something major. And you to your point Nate with a new agent that’s coming in saying “Oh I want to do 7 million” in even taking it a step back. Not even saying “Oh I just want to focus on that first transaction” break it down smaller. “I am gonna focus on getting 7 clients on this year”. Because if you’re focusing on just getting the clients the transaction will come. But if you focus on the client you’re focusing on the habits and the action items that need to be done to generate business. If you say “I want…I am gonna focus on getting a deal over the next month”. It’s not specific enough. “Oh what am I gonna do to do it?” “Well if I am gonna get a deal I need…I need clients right? So why don’t I just focus on getting clients and I am gonna aim from 5-7 clients this year. Then I know what my job is. And my job is to build those relationships and get in that position where somebody wants me to represent them”. The transaction will come. Whether that comes in the first 6 months or the second 6 months or the third 6 months it will come if you focus on doing the right things. That’s what I got.

[Nathan]: Yeah good. 

[Chris]: Anything else on being productive? Guys final thoughts? 

[Christian]: I don’t know. What you said. I have realistic goals. Don’t make them crazy. A to-do list is real easy tool and cheap. You don’t need…You don’t need…paper and a pen.

[Chris]: Not even that. Notes apps. 

[Christian]: [laughter] Yeah right.

[Nathan]: I just say take it day by day. If you know you get distracted and your day goes to [censored] hey you got tomorrow. Start over.

[Chris]: Absolutely start over. Don’t wait. Don’t set…Don’t get half way through the year and say “You know what I didn’t…I faltered, I am gonna wait until January 1”. Just start the next day.

[Christian]: Don’t wait until life is perfect and everything lines up just right because it never will.

[Chris]: It’s never perfect. It’s never gonna be the right time. Just make little strives all the time. There’s a great book. The compound effect by Darren Hardy, who talks about how making incremental efforts every day is the key to building a successful business. And I like in it to brushing your teeth. You brush your teeth once for 2 minutes, it doesn’t do anything for you. But one of my good friend is a dentist. You brush your teeth twice a day everyday it’s gonna prevent cavities. It’s all about consistency. It’s all about the small actions adding up to produce spectacular results if you stick with it. Go. 

[Nathan]: So go brush your teeth people.

[Chris]: Brush your teeth.

[Christian]: That’s how the world is conquered. A little goal at a time.

[Chris]: That’s how it is. Brush your teeth. Your colleagues will thank you and if you haven’t already please go to re:Think Real Estate, our website which is rtrepodcast.com. Subscribe to the newsletter and you will get notified every time an episode hits the air. Go to iTunes, Google play, Spotify, leave us a great rate review even if you haven’t really listened to the whole episode just give us 5 stars. 

[Christian]: Yeah just do it.

[Chris]: Just do it. Alright. Thank you so much for tuning in everybody. We will see you next Monday. 

[music] [Chris]: Thanks for tuning in this week’s episode of the re:Think Real Estate Podcast. We would love to hear your feedback so please leave us a review on iTunes. Our music is curtesy of Dan Koch K-O-C-H, whose music can be explored and licensed for use at dankoch.net. Thank you Dan. Please like, share and follow. You can find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/rethinkpodcast. Thank you so much for tuning in everyone and have a great week.