By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
If you find yourself working harder without seeing results, you might be focusing on the wrong areas. In Focal Point: A Proven System to Simplify Your Life, Double Your Productivity, and Achieve All Your Goals, (AMACOM, 2002; $21.95) speaker and consultant Brian Tracy demonstrates how to clarify your goals and direct your efforts to where they will matter most. The book uses numerous anecdotes and easy-to-remember formulas to eliminate the extraneous from your personal and professional life and concentrate on what you really care about.
Your focal point is the point that you should focus on at any given time to achieve the best possible results. Tracey cites the 80/20 rule, which states that the most important 20 percent of your workload contributes 80 percent of your results. If you can’t identify and then focus on your most vital tasks, then you’re wasting valuable energy. This idea applies to all aspects of your life, whether you are attempting to become your company’s top producer or striving to spend more time with your family.
Many people think that the only way to maximize their earnings is to exhaust themselves putting in longer hours. But where you apply your efforts is as important as how many hours you put in, says Tracy. “Chapter 1: Unlocking Your Full Potential” offers guidelines to increase your income, while cutting back on your workload. This goal may seem improbable, but Tracy argues that it’s simpler than you may think. He advises the following steps to double both your income and your vacation time:
- Identify which tasks contribute the greatest value to your work, from your personal observations and discussions with your broker and fellow salespeople. For instance, prospecting and follow-up are two areas that provide a valuable return on your time investment.
- Single out the tasks that sap your time and energy but contribute little to achieving your goals then delegate, eliminate, or outsource them. For instance, if you spend so much time on clerical tasks that you’re selling less, you might investigate hiring a personal assistant.
- Apply the Grand Slam formula, a system designed to increase your competence and efficiency through simplifying your processes; leveraging knowledge and people; accelerating your activities; and multiplying your efforts by organizing and working with people who complement your skills.
- Reserve a minimum of one full day off each week. No matter how much you love the real estate game, resting your mental muscles will keep you at peak performance. Gradually, increase your vacation time even more, taking two days off a week and scheduling occasional vacations.
- Pay more attention during your workday to see how planning ahead can reduce wasted effort. Of course, the real estate industry sometimes prevents you from slavishly following a schedule. But you can improve your business through strategies such as setting aside a certain time every day to cold call.
But how do you prioritize your tasks? “Chapter 2: Double Your Productivity” offers advice on how to make more efficient use of your workday. For instance, use the ABCDE First techniques to list all tasks that you need to accomplish, then rate each according to importance. “A Tasks” are things that cannot be postponed without significant consequences, such as a listing presentation or an open house. If you have more than one rank them A1, A2, A3. Meanwhile, “B Tasks,” although still important, can be temporarily delayed. For instance, you need to prospect to keep business flowing, but if something more urgent comes up, you can put it off for a day. Enjoyable, but nonessential tasks, such as social activities, are categorized as “C Tasks.” Finally, “D Tasks” are tasks that you can delegate, and “E Tasks” should be eliminated entirely.
These chapters teach you how to incorporate better time management into your day-to-day life. However, the book also demonstrates the importance of stepping back and establishing long-range goals. “Chapter 7: Supercharge Your Business and Career” shows you how set a long-range mission for your professional life. One valuable technique is to put your goals down in writing in the form of a mission statement. Your mission must be both achievable and tangible, and it can be as long or as short as you need to lay out you objective, Tracy says. He cites the orders that General George C. Marshall sent to General Dwight D. Eisenhower as the ultimate mission statement: “Proceed to London. Invade Europe. Defeat the Germans.” Keep it that straightforward, and you’ll get to top performer in no time.
When you can’t find your focus, your direction is uncertain, your concentration is blurry, and your energy is diffused. But when you can zero in on where your efforts will yield their greatest returns for your personal and professional life, everything quickly becomes clear.