The Myth of Multi-tasking

Patricia Sherlock

While most sales managers in mortgage origination value producers who can multi-task, the emphasis placed on multi-tasking in our industry is out of proportion to the potential benefits received. It seems reasonable to believe that producers working on several things simultaneously will be more effective but recent research does not support this idea. The truth is that focus is what really matters when selling.

In an interview with CNET, psychologist Dr. Edward Hallowell, who has conducted extensive research on multi-tasking, calls it “the great seduction of the information age.” He found that multi-tasking can “create the illusion of doing work and being productive when you are not. You’re just trending water.” In fact, Hallowell’s research found that multi-tasking actually decreases productivity and gives us a false sense of what we are really accomplishing. Instead, limiting multitasking is essential to achieve the highest levels of productivity and success.

What about top producers? Are they multi-taskers? We have researched mortgage originators for 15 years and one of the nine predictive personality traits of top originators (retail or wholesale) is follow through. Follow through is a personality trait that is defined as being focused and completing a task.

When discussing how top producers operate, it is clear that they conduct business differently than poor performers. Time blocking, prospecting consistently and completing their assignments in a timely manner are just a few of their successful habits. On the other hand, poor originators let distractions rule their day. From email and texting to phone calls and the unexpected duties of selling in a fast-paced world, poor originators lack an organized approach to completing the tasks and typically do not have a strong personality trait of follow through.

How do you eliminate distractions before conducting sales conversations?

Nancy Bleeke addresses this important topic in her book, Conversations that Sell. The first step is to identify disruptions that keep your sales professionals from preparing and focusing on their sales efforts. Next, evaluate and prioritize the biggest impacts i.e. taking a call from a key referral source is important but being part of the Christmas party committee is not. Finally, put a plan in place to reduce interruptions.

In my experience, the biggest problem for most people is email. Poor originators let email determine their daily workflow. It becomes the reason why they never plan or prospect. One of the easiest ways to stop the inflow of emails is simply to reduce the number of times that the computer loads them on your smartphone. Most computers are set to load every three to five minutes; you can change this to once an hour. Making this simple change can have a major impact on an individual’s productivity and focus. There is really is time to prospect and plan. Don’t let the phone distract you from focusing on what matters in achieving success in mortgage origination.

Are you hiring individuals that have the personality trait of follow through?

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