It's not news anymore. We know that multitasking is bad for our brain, our productivity, and our results.
Yet, real estate buyers and sellers are asked to jump into a multitasking "real estate vortex," and everyone - including them - is surprised if they seem irrational during the buying-selling process.
I'm not being mean or judgmental when I say "irrational," just realistic.
The traditional definition of market value involves a buyer and seller acting in their own best interest and not under "undue pressure." This phrase used to mean outside pressure - coercion or threats. With today's elevated real estate values, buying or selling real estate involves a level of pressure that is equivalent to undue pressure in previous decades.
These are once-in-a-lifetime or again-after-a-long-time big financial decisions for most buyers and sellers. Million-dollar houses are the norm in many areas; mortgages in the hundreds of thousands are reality in too many markets; multiple offers are not uncommon. There is little room for error as the last downturn proved.
Being immersed in high pressure is enough to make anyone irrational: distracted by clever staging; fixating on one feature and ignoring the rest of the property; turning away from an ideal property when the seller signs back the offer for an extra few thousand; signing back an offer to purchase for a few thousand and putting the entire deal at risk.
In this "Decisions & Communities" column and throughout Realtytimes.com, consistent efforts are made to provide relevant real estate information, insights, and alternatives to help counterbalance this pressure for buyers and sellers. We'll keep at this, because we believe that buyers and sellers benefit from support in adopting "a real estate frame of mind." At least, that's how I think of the mental shift required.
And it is shifting, not multitasking, that is required:
#1. One Task at a Time: An often-quoted University of London study revealed that subjects who multitasked cognitive or critical-thinking tasks - that is, switched between tasks without completing them - experienced significant IQ decline - equivalent to that related to missing a night's sleep. When buying real estate, tasks may include evaluating potential properties, filling out mortgage applications, and researching online; when selling, demanding tasks include deciding on a listing broker, selecting a salesperson, and analyzing which offer to accept. Take one task at a time. Do it thoroughly and completely before shifting to the next. Jumping back and forth reduces your effectiveness and results.
#2. De-stress: Multitasking reportedly increases production of the stress hormone cortisol. No wonder adding real estate tasks to an already-overwhelming work or everyday schedule is stressful and mentally exhausting for most buyers and sellers. Try delaying or deferring everything possible to concentrate on one real estate task at a time. Enlist the help of friends and family to free you from daily responsibilities. Asking for the support of co-workers can make sense, too.
#3. Concentrate on The Task at Hand: Did you hear that multitasking can drop IQs up to 15 points in men? This may explain that surprising realization that you can't keep up with so many real estate details at once when you normally handle even more information at work. This is where the real estate professional you've chosen to work with can be of assistance. Instead of trying to keep all the new language and details in your head, ask the professional to use plain language whenever possible and to keep decoding real estate terms. Also ask them to use nouns not pronouns when they describe or explain things. For instance, "It will be more successful if you do that first" requires more translation by the buyer than "Your offer to purchase will be more successful if you arrange mortgage approval first."
#4. Cure Irrational Habits: Email inboxes and social media platforms represent multitasking addictions for too many people. The sense of achievement associated with answering or deleting an email or with posting a comment is irrational since this "busy work" does not help achieve goals. Reduce the time spent being connected and continuously interrupted. Concentrate on key goals like buying your own home or selling for top dollar, and put watching pet videos, texting, and endless emailing on hold. Turn off notifications. The distraction of new incoming emails is a proven IQ eroder.
#5. Prioritize Tasks: Decide which tasks will further your real estate goals and begin with the most important. Finish that task before you move on to the next. That way if you run out of time, the most important, goal-advancing tasks are complete thanks to your real estate frame of mind.
Links are arguably counter-productive multitasking distractions, so I've kept them out of our main discussion. The following few have value in condensing and focusing content.
During August's meetings and events show, Incentiveworks, I met distraction expert Curt Steinhorst as I walked through the +700 exhibitor Trade Show. I was deliberately allowing myself to be distracted by the variety and range of cleverly-conceived booths, each representing a window into a different location, service, or business portal, because I was looking for trends, ideas, and inspiration. And I found a lot.
As we shared positive observations on Incentiveworks, Steinhorst offered clear insight into how daily distractions can weigh on us: "We are expected to process four times the information that people dealt with in 1986, but with less time to actually think." His infographic distills this into a picture's-worth-a-thousand-words graphic that may inspire you to concentrate your attention.
Remember: Multitasking does not automatically guarantee multi-success.
PJ's Blog What's Your Point?