Focus Appears Rude

One of the most difficult things about being an Executive Assistant is finding the time to get it all done.

Our jobs can be very demanding. There are days when it seems like everyone (our lead agent, our team agents, co-op agents, title reps, vendors, lenders, and clients) needs something from us.

We’re just so “busy.” And then we go around telling everyone how busy we are.

“How’s work going?” our friends ask us.

“Oh you know. I’m just so busy,” we say.

We wear it like a badge of honor, but it’s not. Because if we’re not busy, then what’s the point of us having a job?

What if our response could be, “You know, I’m being really productive at work at it feels amazing!”

What does “productive” mean to you?

You might say it means getting things done. Perhaps it means you got to mark through a large percentage of the items on your to-do list?

I think it means you were able to create something. When I’m productive, I’ve moved another human being one step closer to moving into their new home thus creating a whole new life for them. When I’m productive, I’ve learned how to transfer our data into a new program that will track our metrics in a whole new way thus creating insight into our business that we’ve never had.

To me, being productive feels extraordinary compared to being busy which feels likes there’s a weight on my shoulders.

The difference between productive and busy is how long you are able to focus on just one thing at a time.

Really think about that and let it sink in.

I bet that when you’re busy, it feels like there’s movement, like you worked all day, but you can’t really say what you accomplished. You’re tired at the end of the day so you know you worked hard, but you don’t feel especially good about the day.

When you’re productive though, you may still be tired at the end of the day from working so hard, but you can see what you created. You can see what you’ve accomplished or the results you’ve produced.

The difference is focus.

When you’re being pulled in a dozen different directions, you can’t focus. It’s just impossible.

A transaction is in jeopardy of not closing on time, and then you find out the marketing piece you put together has a typo and you need to fix it fast so it can be printed for the agent who wants to door knock this afternoon.

And your to-do list with twenty other items on it hasn’t even been touched yet.

How are you supposed to focus on any one thing? You are busy, but you’re not focused.

Contrast that with a day where you come into the office and immediately spend the first two hours of your day with no outside distractions. You work for those entire two hours on the project you and your lead agent decided was the most important priority for the month. You created something for the business that you love and you’re fully vested in.

How were you able to do that?

  • You shut your door. (If you have one.)
  • You put on headphones.
  • You sent a message to your team saying you would be available at 10:00 a.m. and were not to be disturbed until then.
  • You put a sign on the back of your chair that says, “Do not disturb.”
  • You worked from home. (If you have that ability.)
  • You worked from a conference room or coffee shop.
  • You ignored all the phone calls, emails, and text messages that came in during those two hours because you turned off all your notifications.

Those trying to communicate with you during those two hours may have thought you were rude. You didn’t respond to their emails and text messages right away. When they walked up to talk to you, you had headphones on and a sign on your chair. How rude!

That’s just it. Focus appears rude.*

Fighting for your focus time can be such a battle. And yet, once you’ve established it as a habit, people will get used to it. And then they’ll respect it.

It’s only uncomfortable and weird while it’s new. Once people see you do it day after day, they’ll come to see it as just one of the things you do to be productive.

And once they see you getting results, they’ll want to know how they can do the same.

As a leader, and yes you are a leader, you have to be the example of what’s possible. Now get out there and be productive! (aka. RUDE!)

*I’m pretty sure I heard the phrase “focus appears rude” at a panel discussion at Keller Williams Family Reunion, but sadly I can’t recall who said it. If you know who did, please email me so that I may give credit.


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