How to Stay Focused If You’re Assigned to Multiple Projects at Once

Few people today have the luxury of working on a single project at a time; most of us are juggling the demands of many teams at once. In theory, this system of “multiteaming” offers a number of upsides: You can deploy your expertise exactly where and when it’s most needed, share your knowledge across groups, and switch projects during lull times, avoiding costly downtime.

The reality, though, as we found in our research over the last 15 years, is a lot more complicated. For many people, getting pulled across several different projects is stressful and less productive than theory would suggest. Switching attention between tasks takes time and saps your focus and energy. Moving between teams, you probably also need to adjust to different roles — you might be the boss on one but a junior member of another, for example — which changes not only your level of accountability but also your ability to juggle resources when a crunch time hits. Different teams encompass their own unique cultures, including relationships, routines, symbols, jokes, expectations, and tolerance for ambiguity, which requires energy to handle. And unless you carefully plan and negotiate your contribution on each team, you may end up doing repetitive work instead of pushing your own development.

How can you manage your time, stress, and development if you’re on multiple teams? And how can you stay focused on what’s most important? Start with some up-front planning and follow a few simple rules:

Prioritizing and Sequencing Your Work

Get the big picture. Focusing narrowly on a given day’s work puts you in a reactive, firefighting mode. Schedule a regular status check on all your projects to note milestones. By proactively identifying crunch times when multiple projects have high demands, you can better manage your time and set expectations. The speed and demands of your projects determine the ideal frequency of check-ins, and the management style and seniority of your stakeholders sets the tone for establishing priorities when push comes to shove.

Sequence strategically. Pick one task and focus on it intensely, rather than juggling. Start with the task that requires the greatest concentration and give it your undivided attention. Decide on a distinct set of must-achieve outcomes, define which actions are necessary to achieve only those results, and ruthlessly stick to them. Research shows that attention residue — thoughts held over from a project you’re transitioning from — takes up valuable mental space, so the fewer switches you can make in a given day, the better. If you must multitask, then coordinate and group any compatible duties. For example, if you know you are going to need to answer phone calls at random intervals, work on another task that can be interrupted at any time.

Setting and Communicating Expectations

Protect yourself. When you’re focused on a high-priority task, buy yourself a mental escape from unnecessary intrusions. For example, when I’m writing — my highest-concentration task — I put an automatic reply on my email telling people I’m not checking messages till a certain time of day, and offering my mobile number in case of an emergency. By telling people not to expect an instant reply, you buy yourself some time to focus, while reassuring them that you will pay attention — later. Including your phone number signals your willingness to respond but also makes people think twice about whether their request truly needs immediate attention.

Document and communicate progress. Seeing momentum helps your team leaders feel empowered and in control. Be up front when problems arise. The earlier you say, “I’ve got a conflict and might have trouble delivering 100%,” the more leaders will trust you. One seasoned team member in our research said many of his responses to team requests are simply two words: “On it.” Even this super-brief response tells colleagues that he received their request, so they know he’ll follow up when he can provide more details.

Optimizing Your Development 

Know thyself. A big downside of multiteaming is the truncated exposure to experts from different areas, reducing both your chance to learn from them and your ability to create an impression. Under time pressure, the temptation is for each person to contribute where they already have deep knowledge, rather than investing in members’ learning and growth. You need to own your development goals and your progress toward them. Figure out who else on the team you want exposure to. Make your development goals explicit, to both your team leader and those experts.

Force thyself. After identifying your development goals, block out time for actual learning. Research shows that a critical determinant of learning is time spent reflecting on and integrating new information. This is a challenge, because multiteaming forces us to jump between projects with the express goal of reducing downtime. Therefore, you need to intentionally and explicitly schedule time for reflection. Obviously, you can’t go overboard and become a bottleneck just to carve out contemplation time, but make sure team members see reflection as “real work.”

Across the world, the significant financial benefits of multiteaming mean it has become a way of life, particularly in knowledge work, despite the stresses and risks it can pose for people working across multiple teams at once. As one of those team members, you can manage the trade-offs of working in an overcommitted organization and reap some of the benefits yourself.

This article originally appeared on the HBR website.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

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7 Speaking Habits that Will Make You Sound Smarter

 

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

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Don’t Write Another Email Until You Read This

Emails. Gotta write them. Gotta send them. But the person who gets them doesn’t have to do a single thing. They can ignore, delete, or just let them linger in inbox purgatory.

Which isn’t that encouraging, because after you spend all that time writing just the right message to a prospect, the last place you want it to go is in the trash.

So how do you write emails that get read—and even better, get a response? Today we’re sharing our top tips for writing must-read emails.

  1. Make your subject line a slippery slope

Think of your subject line as a “slippery slope”—a phrase that makes your prospect want to click and read more. If you can’t pique their interest with this short sentence, then forget about the email itself. It’s not going to get read.

Here are three tips for a great subject line:

Put the important words up front. If people are reading your email on a smartphone, the subject line will get cut off at some point. Space is precious here—don’t waste it. Your subject line should be 6-10 words long.

Keep it simple and clear. What will the person get from reading this email? Say it up front. Don’t write something vague like, “Do you have a moment?” or “Good time to talk?”

Use the person’s first name. Research suggests that people are more likely to click on emails that use their first name in the subject line.

  1. Don’t do what everybody else does

Everybody else fills their emails with reasons prospects should work with them. And all of their emails sound the same: I’ve done this, I’ve done that, I’ve been in this industry for 20 years, I’d like to talk.

Don’t do this. Instead, make your email about your prospect and their challenges or opportunities. For a refresher on how to do this, check out our related post on how to turn “me”-centered language into “you”-centered phrases people are more likely to respond to.

  1. Only ask for one thing

Ever get an email and think, “Huh? What does this person want me to do?” That’s probably because the sender was so eager to tell you about everything that they forgot one very important thing: never ask for more than one thing in an email!

Decide what you want your email to do. Do you want people to check out a listing? To look out for your phone call? To set up a meeting? Then, ask clearly for just that one thing. It makes it simple for people to respond with, “Yeah, sure, let’s do this!” instead of wondering how to respond at all, and then letting your email languish in their inbox unanswered.

  1. Put a timeframe on it.

Whatever your ask is, put a timeframe around it. For example, “Let’s connect this week—I can give you a call on Friday.” Or, “Send me a quick ‘yes’ now if you’re interested, and we can figure out the details this week.”

People appreciate when you let them know how much time they have to take you up on an offer, get a special perk, or simply respond to say they’re interested. It transforms your email from an ambiguous ask to a concrete action item, making it more likely that people will respond.

  1. Give the freedom of choice

Now that you’ve made it clear what you want your prospect to do, give them the freedom to do it. Collectively, studies done on over 22,000 people show that they’re way more likely to take you up on your offer if you tell them, “But you are free to [insert action here].”

So tell them: “You are free to choose” or “I’d love to meet, but the choice is totally up to you” or “I think this would be extremely useful, but of course you are free to decide what’s best for you.” The exact wording doesn’t matter; it’s the spirit that those words convey that matters most. Even saying something like “don’t feel obliged” will work.

  1. Slash it in half

To quote the late great American novelist Elmore Leonard, “I leave out the parts that people skip.”

Once you’ve written your email, go back over it and start hitting “delete.” Omit every word that isn’t pulling its weight by either specifically helping your prospect or persuading them to do the thing you’re asking (see tip #3). Cut out the fluff, the cliches, and the filler. You’ve got 30 seconds to inspire action. Don’t waste them.

This article originally appeared on the Apto Commercial Real Estate blog.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

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The Top Social Media Trends for 2018

 

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

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How to Win an Argument Every Time

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About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.6 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

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Five Things I Learned This Year in CRE Tech

February 27, 2018 Leave a comment

Wow! What a year in CRE tech. Many amazing things happened. Challenges remain for many. Opportunities for all. That’s kind of how I see things, always. Great upside but with the realization that it takes hard work, lessons learned, discoveries and then, ultimately, there is progress. It’s never a straight line. Nor should it be.

For me personally, it has been an extraordinary year in CRE Tech. Our platforms are all growing, our team is rock solid and the overall commercial real estate tech sector is growing big time. While I am not one to spend much time looking back, or looking too far out front either, when I think about this past year my main takeaways in CRE Tech are as follows:

  1. The CRE Tech tribe is absolutely growing. It seems that everyday I am connecting with a new startup, landlord, broker or investor who is active in the space. And, it’s not just the quantity but also the quality of whom I am connecting with. From when I entered the space six years ago up until today, the sheer numbers of those active in the sector has grown substantially.
  2. You should pay attention to the brokerage firms and landlords in 2018. I think the real action in the year ahead will be seen in the largest brokerage firms and what they are doing INSIDE their organizations. I would expect that we will see the same as it relates to the top landlords. As an example, I recently met with one of the largest office owners/developers in the world and they showed me an APP they built for their tenants that would make even WeWorkenvious. That’s where I really think the big trend in CRE tech will be in the year ahead… the largest players in the industry acquiring or investing in their own tech solutions to give them a competitive edge in the marketplace. Think the “Intel Inside” campaign as an example of how they will soon be branding themselves as tech-enabled companies.
  3. While our own researchshows investing in the sector is down, the amount raised in 2018 will be massive. I know of several existing Funds raising large new rounds and several others coming into the space raising significant amounts of money. While the money invested might not drastically change, the money raised will be impressive.
  4. Mergers and acquisitions will finally emerge. The pack is separating for those with resources and traction and those with great ideas but who lack in resources and traction. This will result in some serious M&A activity in 2018.
  5. And my biggest prediction is… something HUGE will happen and no one knows what the hell it is! Not trying to be clever or evasive, but one of the things I have learned in my almost thirty years in business is that you can never predict when something truly profound is going to happen. But it always does. Did we see Amazon buying Whole Foods? Maybe some did. Did we see Microsoft buying LinkedIn? Perhaps. My bet is that some big company that isn’t on the radar screen is coming into the sector and it will have a profound impact on the space. Is it Google? Is it Amazon? Is there a Zillow on the horizon? A few people probably know but most of us don’t. With all of the momentum including positive press, increasingly big Funds paying attention to the space and a few notable exits, the CRE tech sector is on the radar screen of larger tech companies than we probably realize.

This article originally appeared on the Michael Beckerman blog.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

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How to Master Meetings

February 20, 2018 Leave a comment

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About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.6 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

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