Turning lockdown lessons into productivity hacks

Like most of us, Leanne Pilkington has learned some lockdown lessons the hard way. The quest for knowledge during COVID-19 has never been stronger in the real estate industry. But instead of just consuming the words of others, agents need to put what they've learnt into action Leanne writes.

Ever since COVID-19 came along and changed the way we all work, every trainer, coach and franchise organisation has begun engaging in a wide variety of online training materials.

From motivational content to real estate-specific skills, business development, personal resilience, team building and customer service alternatives, there’s been a host of information absorbed.

We’ve been sponges because we know that knowledge helps us stay on top of our game.

But as leadership coach David Robinson recently reminded me, success means producing quality work, not just consuming the great work of others.

The question is, how do you move from consumption to production in an uncertain environment? 

I have some productivity hacks that I use to stay focused.

They may not work for everyone, and some of these I’ve learnt from other leaders.

Focus is personal and we each have different ways of achieving it.

The point is, now is the time to put our focus where it needs to be. 

1. Set your intention every morning

Like most people, my to-do list is long.

So, every day I stick a post-it note on my screen and write the top three things that I absolutely must achieve that day.

It’s a deceptively simple technique, but it makes sure those priority tasks stay top of mind.

2. Bring the energy

It’s about how you are going to show up in the workplace (and on Zoom) every single day. 

Energy is contagious, whether it’s good or bad.

Intentionally bringing positive energy makes for a better day for you and those around you.

Productivity follows.

3. Meditation

For me, it’s not just about the act of meditation, it’s about what happens to your mind as a result.

More clarity, less noise and less frequent wanderings.

I listened to the Inside Influence podcast where Julie Masters interviews Chris Bailey about productivity.

He says his research has shown that for every minute you meditate, you get nine more minutes productivity as a result of that ongoing clarity of mind.

There are plenty of meditation apps to download and try.

4. Hour of power

For all the people who recommend ideal weeks, just as many people will say they don’t work for them.

We’re all different, so we need to find out what structure works for us.

I think an hour of power, where you intensify your focus on one particular project or task – your callbacks, prospecting, whatever you need to do – is achievable and helpful for most people.

To get the most out of it, turn off emails and phones, and if you are in the office, get someone to take messages for you. 

5. Task blocking

Task blocking is a great way to knock big-ticket or essential items off your to-do list.

For example, if you make all your follow-up calls at once, you can unlock extra time in the day to ramp up your productivity in other areas, including during your hour of power.

6. Take control of your email

Don’t make the mistake of constantly checking emails.

Dedicate a series of times each day to check your email, deal with what you can there and then, and move large new tasks to your to-do list based on your priority hierarchy.

Outside of that, turn emails off. 

You can easily put an out-of-office message on your emails advising people when you will get back to them.

7. Disconnect to reconnect

This is another one from Chris Bailey (yes, I really liked that podcast!).

He talks about the release of dopamine we get every time we scroll through Instagram, check Facebook and read emails. 

These hits become addictive.

The result can be more than a distraction; it can be over-stimulation.

Have an evening ritual in where you switch off your phone, any screens and disconnect.  

8. Be present

Wherever you are, be there. 

You need to be focused and present, whether you are at work or at home.

Don’t be the person who is typing emails while you are speaking to people on the phone.

If you are not prepared to be focused on the task, person or meeting, it’s not something you should be spending time on in the first place.

9. Give yourself some white space

This is focus time without distraction. 

It doesn’t necessarily mean physically switching everything off or isolating yourself.

It’s about finding the headspace that allows you to be creative, develop new ideas and to grow.

Perhaps it’s a lunchtime walk or a mid-afternoon cup of tea.

It’s your time to explore what’s lurking in the back of your mind and see what ideas deserve coming to the forefront.

10. Exercise

Without exercise I just don’t perform at my best.

Work out what suits you and your lifestyle and commit to it.

We all know about the connection of a healthy mind and a healthy body and that connection is especially important in times like these.

  • Leanne Pilkington is the Laing+Simmons Managing Director and President of the Real Estate Institute of NSW (REINSW).

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Leanne Pilkington

Leanne Pilkington is Chief Executive Officer and Director of Laing+Simmons.