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Your Time Matters: What To Prioritize At Work To Ensure Success

Take the time to define — or even redefine — what your workflow looks like

Erica LaCentra headshot
Erica LaCentra
Your Time Matters

In the real estate industry, seasons matter, and with spring in full bloom, more folks are likely listing their homes or looking for homes. As the weather gets warmer, this is typically the point in the year when the mortgage industry starts ramping up. Also, as volatility in the industry starts to die down and rates start to settle a bit, you’re likely (and hopefully) noticing that work is picking up and you’re busier than you were during the winter months.

However, as your workload picks up, it can often be difficult to prioritize and determine where you should be focusing your attention to make sure you are making the most of your working day. So in an industry where time is truly money, what can you do to make sure you are spending that time on efforts that really matter?

Identify Your Most Important Tasks and Rethink Your Workflow

While it may seem like a no-brainer to identify your most important tasks and prioritize them, that is often easier said than done. It can also become increasingly difficult to determine where to focus your attention when you experience a growing client base or an increase in loan volume. These circumstances are particularly challenging because your tasks haven’t necessarily changed, you just have more to handle overall.

Rather than getting overwhelmed by work piling up, this is the perfect time to look at your existing workflow, figure out where you can make improvements, and even cut out areas of inefficiency. Take a look at all of the tasks you are completing on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis and determine where they fall on your priority list based on importance and urgency. Chances are, you are prioritizing items that often don’t need to be, which is an easy way to knock certain tasks lower on your to-do list.

Then, take the time to define or even redefine what your workflow looks like. Set general expectations and deadlines for yourself, and your clients when they are involved, based on the list of tasks you have already identified. Plan to stick to the timelines you have set for yourself for a specific amount of time, think two weeks to a month. Use tools like to-do lists, your calendar, or even a project management software like or Trello to set firm or floating deadlines so you can easily track how well you are sticking to them.

Once the amount of time you set has passed, you can evaluate what is and isn’t working, refine deadlines to be more accurate based on your experience, and ultimately become more efficient at your job. As you refine your workflow, be sure to look for repetitive and recurring tasks as you may be able to employ a technical solution to automate many of these areas, freeing yourself up for more important efforts.

Eliminate Distractions

One of the major obstacles to productivity in your job is distractions and they can come in many forms. While external distractions like noise or being interrupted by a colleague can be easy to counter, there are many internal distractions that you don’t even realize are severely hampering your productivity. So, to eliminate distractions, start by figuring out what the biggest culprits are.

If your problem is external distractions like a loud workspace, you can wear noise-canceling headphones or set up a quiet space to be more productive. However, if you think internal distractions are your biggest problem, this may require more creative solutions. For example, if you are constantly being interrupted by messages from other colleagues or unscheduled phone calls, you may want to set your work messaging system and phone to do not disturb as a quick fix. Or maybe your problem is you feel overwhelmed by your inbox and a need to respond to requests as they come in. In this case, you may want to take the time to set up email rules to send emails to specific mailboxes, which you can check at specified intervals during your day. You can also use time blocking on your calendar to your advantage.

Block out time during your day that you can dedicate to certain tasks. This can allow you to focus specifically on the task at hand while tuning out distractions.

Delegate Tasks

While it may seem challenging to hand off tasks to other people, especially if you are used to having full control over tasks within your organization, being able to delegate is critical for several reasons. First, it will free up your time so that you can focus on your most important tasks. If you are a manager within an organization or an owner, there simply isn’t enough time in the day to involve yourself in smaller day-to-day tasks. Delegating these tasks to other team members will allow you to focus on bigger-picture items and ensure you aren’t bogged down in the minutiae. Also, by delegating, you are developing the skills and expertise of other members of your team so that they can also grow within the company.

If you aren’t sure how to best go about delegating some of your tasks to get them off your plate, start by looking at the tasks you handle. Routine or recurring tasks are often some of the easiest to delegate as they are easier to train other team members on. Also, if you have tasks that you feel are outside of your area of responsibility and there is someone in your organization that is better suited and more qualified to handle them, those are also tasks that can be easily delegated.

Once you have identified what you want to delegate, make sure you identify team members that have the skills, experience, and bandwidth to be able to handle these tasks. It can be counterproductive to try to delegate tasks to team members that are too busy or ill-equipped to handle them, as they will likely end up back on your plate.

Meet with the identified team members and set clear expectations and training for the tasks as you hand them off. Be prepared to initially provide support and feedback and be available to answer questions. However, once they are trained on these tasks, you will have one less thing to worry about and can focus on more pressing and important tasks.

Take Time for Breaks

It may seem counterintuitive to take breaks in your workday if you are trying to increase productivity, however, factoring in time to step away from your work periodically can lead to greater efficiency. Taking regular breaks has been shown to increase productivity and creativity while reducing stress levels and potential burnout. So if you start feeling overwhelmed or unfocused, take some time to step away for a short walk or even just take some deep breaths to clear your head and get back on track.

In times when volume picks up, it can certainly be stressful trying to adjust to everything that comes your way. However, it is important to do just that and adjust to improve efficiencies and be as successful as you can be.

This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine May 2023 issue.
Erica LaCentra headshot
Erica LaCentra

Erica LaCentra is Chief Marketing Officer for RCN Capital.

Published on
Apr 25, 2023
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