Aretha is wailing in the background, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me…” You don’t hear the words, however, because chances are good that you’re currently surfing the Web for the newest cat videos, texting a client or catching up on emails via a variety of devices. I’ve talked about email management before, but really that’s just scratching the surface of how respect and technology can go hand in hand. 90% of American adults have a cell phone, and 67% of those cell phone users find themselves checking their phone even when the phone isn’t giving off visual or audible notifications . (Source) To combat that overindulgence in technology, some people engage in a “digital detox,” going cold turkey from technology for a set period of time in the hopes of achieving a new world nirvana. Really, however, that kind of detox behavior is not feasible, especially in the real estate business, because chances are good that technology has become part of our daily personal and business lifestyles.
What’s a real estate agent to do?
It’s time to listen to Aretha, and practice some respect. Respect your technology and you’ll find you’re being more respectful to your family, your clients and yourself.
What do I mean? And where to start?
Respect for technology means knowing when it’s appropriate to be using it, setting personal limits for yourself and successfully integrating technology into your business workflow.
Where do you start?
Start by paying attention. Pay attention to when and why you pick up each piece of technology. Some agents may still be running a business on a flip-phone and a fax machine, while others may be solely paperless. Whatever your technology standard, however, you need to know your habits. Take one day. If you can, physically write down the times and circumstances you use every device. (It sounds like a big pain, but it’ll help your business in the long run!) Big thing? Don’t cheat. Every time you check Facebook at the stoplight or sneak a peek at your email during dinner, make a note.
Next, take a look at what you’ve noticed. My guess is you will be surprised at what you discover. Most of us have incorporated using our devices so seamlessly into our lifestyle that we don’t notice we’re doing it unless someone points it out (aka, calls us out on it). Use the times to figure out where your usage ebbs and flows. What have you found? Is your phone glued to your hand? Can you survive without your tablet near you? How are your clients contacting you? Do some soul-searching. What kind of actions are you performing when you pick up your device? Do you have a purpose, or are you just “grazing”?
Time for a little self-assessment.
Did you pick up your phone more than 100 times in the day? Did you pick up your phone more than 5 times in a 30 minute client meeting for something other than work for that particular client? Did you leave the dinner table to check the notifications coming from your social media? How many devices did you have in hand or nearby for your “off-time”?
Now, for the hard part.
What was a disrespect of your time? What was a disrespect of your business’ time? What was a disrespect to your friends and/or family? What was a disrespect to your client?
We can justify a number of our activities, especially our technology usage, for a variety of reasons. Most of these justifications revolve around the microwave mentality of society. Our clients don’t just want it now, we say to ourselves, they wanted it yesterday. (See also, our FOMM “Fear of Missing Money”) Which, to some extent, could be true. However, certain boundaries and limits can be healthy, even for clients. If you’re sacrificing time for yourself, time with your friends or time with your family solely for the purpose of spending more time with your electronics, you may want a re-think of how your time is spent every day.
The caveat being, of course, if those electronic dalliances are making you money!
Just don’t fool yourself that a business activity consists of checking Facebook for the 40th time this morning. The cute cat video will still be there once your lead-generating activities are done. People will be OK if you don’t answer their post or Facebook message or tweet immediately. They understand. Hopefully, they have lives too. Respect people, and respect your electronics. Don’t just post with a purpose. Pick up your phone, tablet, computer or other electronic device with a purpose as well. You’ll find that if you start to control your time and use of your electronics, you’ll feel a greater sense of respect for yourself, and realize a greater respect from your friends, family and clients as well.