BEST PRACTICEElite AgentMindset and Personal Development

The must-try productivity hack for 2024

I recently helped my 11-year-old daughter change her room around, which resulted in a somewhat exasperating exchange about the state the room was initially in.

Despite complaining that she can “never find anything”, Miss Tween refused to believe that my advice to “keep everything in its proper spot,” was sound.

She also refused to acknowledge that she simply had “too much stuff” and a lot of it held very little “value”.

Insert huffing and eye-rolling here (from my daughter, not me!)

So, of course, I went to the behemoth of all information sources – Google – searching for something or someone to back me up. 

What I found was a treasure trove of productivity systems and hacks, some of which I already use and some I’m super keen to try.

But there was one, in particular, I think has the power to streamline your efficiency and propel you forward this year.

Zen to Done

You might have heard of David Allen’s personal productivity system, Getting Things Done (GTD), but have you heard of Zen to Done (ZTD)?

Created by author Leo Babauta, ZTD is a streamlined system designed to enhance your productivity and focus.

Babauta says that while GTD is a great system, it can feel overwhelming because it calls on you to make a collection of habit changes all at once.

“ZTD captures the essential spirit of the new system: that of simplicity, of a focus on doing, in the here and now, instead of on planning and on the system,” he says.

“If you’ve been having trouble with GTD, as great as it is, ZTD might be just for you. 

“It focuses on the habit changes necessary for GTD, in a more practical way, and it focuses on doing, on simplifying, and on adding a simple structure.” 

ZTD focuses on 10 core habits to transform productivity.

These habits range from collecting to planning, organising, simplifying, and engaging in regular reviews. 

The key lies in adopting these habits one at a time and completing them every day to ensure they become ingrained in daily routines.

As a real estate agent, this approach can be a game-changer. Let’s break it down:

Collect: In today’s world, information comes at you thick and fast, which means you could have a light-bulb moment or great idea at any time. 

It could be a new personal marketing idea or a strategy to revamp your listing presentation

ZTD teaches you how to capture tasks and ideas immediately, ensuring nothing slips through the cracks.

To collect the great ideas, all you need to do is carry a small notebook with you, index cards, or use a simple notetaker on your phone.

Process: Next, you’ll learn to process what you’ve captured. 

This means deciding what action each item requires – which is a critical skill, especially when it comes to managing client queries and listings.

Plan: Planning is vital in real estate.

ZTD encourages you to set weekly goals and define what needs to be done to achieve these goals.

“Each week, list the Big Rocks that you want to accomplish, and schedule them first,” Babauta suggests.

Do: Here, the focus is on completing tasks.

“This is one of the most important habits in ZTD,” Babauta says.

“You must select a task and focus on it to the exclusion of all else.”

This could mean prioritising client meetings, open homes or paperwork. 

The trick is to not multitask or allow yourself to be distracted. 

“Shut off email, cell phone and the internet if possible,” Babauta says.

Simple systems: ZTD advocates for a straightforward organisational system. 

Create simple lists and check them often. 

Babauta suggests lists under headings such as @home @work and @errands but, as an agent, you might like to opt for @listings, @opens, @warmleads and others. 

To keep those lists, opt for a simple system. 

Pen and paper is fine, so is a whiteboard or an easy digital note-taking app. 

“Don’t create a complicated system, and don’t keep trying out new tools,” Babauta advises.

“It’s a waste of time, as fun as it is. 

“Either use a simple notebook or index cards for your lists, or use the simplest list program possible.”

Organise: Do you remember your mother telling you to put things away? In their proper spots? 

Well, she was right. 

The ZTD system is a huge advocate for filing all incoming information into context lists, action folders, your outbox to delete it or your delegation pile. 

“Put things where they belong, right away, instead of piling them up to sort later,” Babauta says.

“This keeps your desk clear so you can focus on your work. 

“Don’t procrastinate — put things away.”

Review: The weekly review is one habit from Getting Things Done that Zen to Done makes very little change to. 

Each week go over each of your yearly goals and check what progress you’ve made.

Also analyse what actions you need to take in the next seven days to move forward again. 

Once a month, set aside a larger chunk of time to complete a more in-depth review. 

Regular reviews allow you to assess your progress and adjust your strategies accordingly.

The alternative is setting a goal, leaving it for six months and then dumping it in the ‘too hard’ basket. 

Simplify: This habit is about reducing your tasks and commitments. 

The alternative is you try and tackle everything, end up feeling overwhelmed and struggle to find the motivation and focus needed to complete any tasks.

Instead, review your task and project lists and see what you can cull so you can focus on the most impactful activities – kind of like the 80/20 system.

“Remove everything but the essential projects and tasks, so you can focus on them,” Babauta says.

“Simplify your commitments, and your incoming information stream. 

“Be sure that your projects and tasks line up with your yearly and life goals. 

“Do this on a daily basis (briefly, on a small scale), during your weekly review, and your monthly review.”

Routine: This habit is all about setting and keeping routines.

While Getting Things Done is much more unstructured, ZTD is all about creating orders that you repeat daily, weekly or monthly. 

In real estate, you often hear about doing call sessions in the morning and appointments in the afternoon, but you could also include set days and times for exercise, emails, team meetings and more.

Find Your Passion: This might be the last habit but Babauta says its also one of, if not the, most important.

“If you’re passionate about your work, you won’t procrastinate — you’ll love doing it, and want to do more,” he says. 

“The habit to form here is to constantly seek things about which you’re passionate, and to see if you can make a career out of them when you find them. 

“Make your life’s work something you’re passionate about, not something you dread doing, and your task list will almost seem like a list of rewards.”

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.