Appointments are set. Leads have been followed up with. As you head home and take a breather, it’s hard not to feel the warm glow of self-congratulation. You’ve put in the hours and checked off your to-do’s. Who shouldn’t feel a little smug, right?
Well … not to ruin those moments of happiness or anything, but maybe we should rethink it. Real estate agents and other professionals regularly confuse the feeling of effort with the reality of results. It’s something psychologists call the “labor illusion.”
Let’s talk about why “work smarter, not harder” is a legitimate statement you should pay attention to:
The Illusion of Hard Work
We judge other people’s work based on how much they wore themselves out, not by how quickly and well they did their job (as we often say). Don’t believe me? Check out this story, as Dan Ariely shows how a locksmith began to earn fewer tips and more complaints about pricing as he got better at his job. Each job took him so little time or effort that customers felt cheated, even though being super-fast is an asset people supposedly desire.
Think clients hate waiting? Not so fast…
A 2011 study done by the Harvard Business School found people actually preferred to wait longer for search results on flight-booking websites, such as Expedia (which you’ll see if you look for flights there). The perception is they are working hard to help you, which is why you have to wait.
In real estate, we call this the Effort Trap. It’s dangerously easy to feel a 10-hour day of catching up on calls and clearing out emails from your inbox is more worthwhile than 2 hours of concentrated work on negotiating deals. Those couple of hours may not exhaust you or take that long, but it doesn’t mean they were less meaningful.
So, if you’re judging output by your tiredness, you’re sure to be misled.
Enter “Work Smarter, Not Harder”
Avoiding the effort trap isn’t easy. Our culture reinforces the idea of: Hard work is ultimately what matters. It’s everywhere … from office workplaces to home tasks. Too little do we place value on working smart instead of hard.
In real estate, we think calling a thousand leads is hard work, but it’s worth it. However, not many leaders acknowledge there’s an easier way to do those tasks. For example, having a phone dialer or real estate CRM to help with lead follow up.
Since they take so little time, we start to place less value on the work behind it. However, if you’re properly thinking about which leads to call and when to call them, gathering a honed list of quality leads versus a large list of all leads … well, hopefully you see the value. Which list do you think will convert better? Remember, results are what bosses look for.
What do you think about this article? Do you think this is a legitimate argument -- is working smarter vs harder a priority for real estate professionals? I’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas, concerns, objections, etc.