The photo is of my deck and my Chromebook just a few days ago around 10:00 AM.
Recently, I had been feeling like I couldn’t concentrate in my office at our brokerage. There were just too many distractions. The agents on my team would interrupt me with things they needed, or just funny things that were on their minds. The sales meetings in our office are fun, with 40-70 people in attendance. They play loud music for about 10 minutes before the meeting and 10 minutes after the meeting. My office sits on the other side of the wall from the meeting room with a direct vent in between them. This is not very conducive to productive work.
After reading The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, I have been thinking about the best way to go about building my bunker. Here’s Gary and Jay on what building a bunker entails:
Find somewhere to work that takes you out of the path of disruption and interruption. If you have an office, get a “Do Not Disturb” sign. If it has glass walls, install shades. If you work in a cubicle, get permission to put up a folding screen. If necessary, go elsewhere. The immortal Ernest Hemingway kept a strict writing schedule starting at seven every morning in his bedroom. The mortal but still immensely talented business author Dan Heath “bought an old laptop, deleted all its browsers, and, for good measure, deleted its wireless network drivers” and would take his “way-back machine” to a coffee shop to avoid distractions. Between the two extremes, you could just find a vacant room and simply close the door.
It just made sense for me to work from home. Remember how we talked about using e-signatures to go paperless? When your office is paperless, you have the ability to work from anywhere. Using Google Drive, DotLoop, Google Voice, a laptop and a cell phone, I have everything I need to conduct business. Now, I prefer my dual monitors, but the fact is, I don’t have to be at the office with all the other team members to do my job.
Now, I didn’t exactly ask to start working from home. I just started doing it and no one really questioned it. I realize that’s probably not going to happen for 90% of most administrative assistants. I work for a very understanding agent who has also read The One Thing and buys into its concepts and I have a transaction coordinator who has taken that piece of the job away from me. So I am leveraged.
If you don’t have those things, don’t worry. You can still make this happen!
Start by asking the agent you work for if you can work from home two mornings every week for a two week trial. Use this time to get all the things done that you find it difficult to do when you are constantly being interrupted with at the office. At the end of the two weeks, show your agent what you’ve accomplished. If it usually takes you two hours in the office to put a home on the market and it only took you an hour and fifteen minutes at home…that’s a huge time savings! Document that and use it as proof that you get more done at home.
I highly recommend reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. He has scripts for how to talk to your boss for getting the work at home time you want.
My results with working from home have been phenomenal. I have WAY less stress, I’m more pleasant when I AM at the office and I am learning so may great ways to market our listings and ourselves using social media. I am getting to work on all the projects we said we wanted to do. It’s fantastic!
Of course, there are still things that need to be done in the office such as printing and putting together mailings and our pre-listing packages. But those things can be batched and certainly don’t require me to be at the office all day. Plus, if I’m not there to talk to, the agents aren’t distracted from making their lead generation phone calls in the morning. It’s a win-win!
If working from home is just not an option for you, then training your agents to give you uninterrupted time is crucial. If you share office space and thus don’t have a door to close, try taping a Do Not Disturb sign to the back of your chair or the front of your desk and putting on some headphones with acoustic music or even white noise. (Search YouTube for “white noise” and pick one that sounds the most pleasant to you.) I promise that if you set boundaries and strictly enforce them, they will be respected. Try announcing at your next team meeting that you are unavailable from say 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM every morning and see how it goes.
Have you been able to successfully negotiate some time to work from home? Or have you been able to keep your team at bay while you get some serious time blocking in? Tell us how you did it in the comments!