Avoiding Mass Distraction at Work

By Amy Kosnikowski |

4 minute read

Live attentively and work effectively.

Overwhelmed at the job? Barely surviving vs. thriving in life? Addicted to smartphone use? Constantly distracted? Yes, yes, yes and yes. Sigh. Sadly, this is the new norm for many in the rental housing industry; however, this grim reality must not simply be accepted.

The truth is, it would be far easier to continue on in our current state of mass distraction and busyness.

A positive change can be created by adopting an improved manner in which employees respond to the unpredictability of each working day.

Manda S. Gifford, Director of Multi-Family at Judwin Properties, says, “In the past year, we are busier than ever. There seems to never be enough hours in the day. More mistakes are made due to not paying attention, and it is just full speed ahead constantly. We want to free up the onsite team’s time to spend more time with prospects and residents.”

Many companies are making proactive adjustments to assist teams to work effectively in a world of distraction.

“It has never been tougher onsite than today to stay on task,” states Debbie Rurik-Goodwin, President of Edwards Communities.

The person who has the most to do gets the most done, Rurik-Goodwin says, however, this success does not happen by chance. Edwards’ team members are encouraged to follow the best practice to develop and use a daily to-do list. A more productive day follows when top priorities and tasks are determined and the importance of each is established. Having this priority list assists members to get back on track after serving a customer or answering a phone call.

Get Organized & Sharpen Focus

In search of industry best practices and strategies, an informal online survey of rental housing professionals in February that included 75 responses and by gathering best practices through email and personal interviews, results found that having a strong willpower to focus through the day was essential.

Many shared that the benefits of staying calm no matter how hectic the day becomes and using deep-breathing techniques to shift gears to refocus. Creating “Do Not Disturb” opportunities also was a winning strategy: Closing an office door and disconnecting from all distractions to complete projects, such as muting computer notifications, brings success. Additionally, being a smart scheduler helps to organize teams through “meetups.” These can help employees increase each other’s productivity. Effective team communication limits surprises and increases support to keep all focused and on task.

At Edwards Communities, the leasing centers all have a “back room,” which serves as a productive zone with limited distractions. Team members stagger hours serving customers while others have “quiet time” operating uninterrupted to complete projects, such as prospective resident follow-up, preparing leases or developing the financial report.

Edwards also has purposefully designed clubhouses (pictured) positioned away from the leasing office, which encourages team members to warmly greet and attentively connect with current and future residents. This “be here now” approach enriches the customer connection and relationships.

The survey revealed that using technology and smartphone apps such as Trello, Asana and Be Focused can help employees track tasks, manage projects and prioritize to-dos. Others found that by simply unsubscribing from unwanted emails or using a filter to limit junk mail was a smart tactic to free up inbox distractions. A majority stated that when working on deadlines or completing tasks, they turned off alerts on all gadgets to lessen the temptation to check for personal texts or emails.

Attention Management Strategies

All staff members are given the same amount of time every day to complete their work. The question is: What are you doing with that time? The trick is to manage one’s attention, no matter the amount of interruptions or distractions, and to stay focused on top priorities. The survey also points out that not over-committing oneself every day and not overburdening the day with responsibilities unrelated to your position is beneficial.

Limit anxiety about the next day by prepping for it by planning tomorrow’s top priorities and what is needed before departing. This preparation time will place focus on the most pressing items and will deflect chaos or distractions when they occur.

Not all advice offered from the survey will work for everyone. Choose one or two tips and track the results. When individuals have the ability to weigh-in with their ideas and opinions, the odds are they will “buy-in” to the decisions to be attentive and more focused long-term.

Amy Kosnikowski Dilisio is an industry educator and President of Quintessential Marketing & Training.

See Amy present, “Beyond Overload? Change Strategies to Increase Capacity for Lasting Success” along with Rommel Anacan on Friday, June 15 at Apartmentalize in San Diego.