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Op/Ed

8 ways Realtors can use Gmail to increase productivity during the busy season

Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced Gmail user, there are ample ways to eliminate wasted time, critical as we enter the busy season.

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productivity

No matter how hard we try, when the busy home selling season comes around, it may feel impossible to get it all done. From generating new leads to servicing your current clients, you could work nonstop and still have more things to do.

When this time of year is in full swing, you need to have the right tools to help you focus your day-to-day workflow, decrease inefficient business practices, and increase your productivity. To that end, Gmail can help more than you might think.

Gmail Can Streamline Your Productivity

  1. Unfiled inbox. Did you know that you can configure your Gmail account to receive email from all of your different email accounts? Long gone are the days when you check one email address in one place, and another somewhere else. Go to Settings > Accounts and you can set up all of the email to be received within your Gmail account. (Level of Difficulty: Medium)
  2. Labels. Labels are akin to folders, and they are a great way to keep each transaction, prospect, or project together. What’s nice about Labels is that once an email is labeled, the Label shows at a glance in the inbox. Go to Settings > Labels and you can create a label for each one of your current transactions, clients, or projects. (Level of Difficulty: Easy)
  3. Filters. Used in conjunction with labels, filters will increase your organization without taking any of your time. A filter is a rule (so to speak) that Gmail will follow for a group of emails. For example, you can create a filter which states that any past and future emails from your seller on Pennsylvania Avenue will automatically be labeled The White House. Or, you can create a filter for all of the invoices you receive to be placed somewhere else or even deleted. Go to Settings > Filters or use the search bar at the top of the Gmail inbox to create filters that will save you time and keep you organized. (Level of Difficulty: Medium)
  4. Signature Lines. You can set up a signature line for each email address you configure in Gmail at Settings > General. Previously unavailable, Gmail now allows for text formatting, insertion of hyperlinks, and other nifty features. (Level of Difficulty: Easy)
  5. Canned Response Lab. Do you always send the same to different parties? Do you waste time typing that message every time you send it? If so, then you need to enable the Canned Response Lab. Go to Settings > Labs and you can enable the lab there. One other cool feature of the lab is that it can be used to house multiple signature lines. While Gmail does allow a single signature for each email address you configure, users who want to use multiple signature lines from a single email address can use the Canned Response Lab to get the feature they need. (Level of Difficulty: Medium)
  6. Gmelius. This browser extension (according to their website) helps enhance privacy and boost productivity. With free and paid versions (a one-time fee for the paid version), Gmelius has many options for email inbox configuration. Generally, Gmelius helps users to configure a cleaner, more efficient inbox. Through Gmelius, you can select to have an ad free workspace, add attachment icons, remove Google+ activity, and customize navigation buttons among other things. (Level of Difficulty: Easy)
  7. Streak. Best explained, Streak is a CRM that lives inside Gmail (only for use on Google Chrome). With a strong pipeline management feature and the ability to customize fields, it is a quick and efficient way to manage your sales pipeline within your email (so that you do not have to jump between email and your CRM). While you can customize any pipeline, the folks at Streak recently added a Real Estate Pipeline, which is a good place to get started. Note that there is also a Streak app that you can install on mobile devices. (Level of Difficulty: Medium to Hard)
  8. Gmail app. If you are going to work hard on getting your inbox organized to increase your productivity, then by all means you should be using the Gmail app on your mobile device. Within the Gmail app, you can see the labels you created to control the enormity of your inbox. Considering abandoning the built-in mail product and install the Gmail app on your smartphone or tablet. (Level of Difficulty: Easy)

It’s true that getting organized to increase your productivity and streamline your business may take time. But, if you devote a few hours to the tips and organizational tools provided here, the time you will save on the back end will be ten fold.

Got any more cool Gmail productivity tips? Feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Melissa is an in-demand business success speaker and author, as well as a real estate broker with thousands of short sale transactions under her belt. She leverages her experience as a short sale insider to motivate thousands of business professionals to plan their careers better, execute more effectively on their plan, and earn more because of it.

Op/Ed

6 questions to determine if you are exhausted and feeling burnout

(EDITORIAL) Six questions can determine your feelings of workplace stress and burnout, and knowing is the first step to curing the problem.

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man laying head on computer representing burnout at work

Everyone feels the stress of the job. Even if you are one of the lucky few who holds what they deem their “dream job,” there are days where not everything is picture-perfect. With the technologically based world we live in, it’s hard to deal with being constantly attainable. After we are through putting in our hours at the office, work continues to follow us home with every email that pops up in our inbox. The stress of not allowing yourself a significant work-life balance can lead to work burnout.

Burnout causes and effects

Studies in organizational communication have examined the causes and effects of workplace burnout. The causes are divided in dimensions of emotional exhaustion, lack of personal accomplishment, and depersonalization.

With emotional exhaustion, a worker may feel fatigued, frustrated, and fed up with their work. Lack of personal accomplishment leads to feelings of failure or incapability.

Finally, depersonalization causes a worker to feel like a cog in a machine, rather than a valued employee. As a result, they may begin to dislike coworkers.

The effects of workplace burnout come in the form of physiological, attitudinal, and organizational. Physiological effects may see spikes in blood pressure and heart disease.

Attitudinal effects see reduced job satisfaction and lower commitment to the organization. And, if burnout is continuously felt with a particular job, the organizational effect could be a high turnover rate.

Ask yourself these six questions

Dr. Steve Albrecht posed six questions one must ask themselves to examine their level of workplace burnout. He suggested that the questions will determine whether one’s workplace burnout is low, medium, or high.

1. What do I like about my job?
What aspects of the job help get you out of bed in the morning? Do you feel like you are doing something you’re good at? Do you feel valued? These feelings, along with tangible aspects, such as salary and benefits, are important for anyone in any job to consider.

2. What do I hate about my job?
Consider the hours, pay, people, responsibilities, etc. Are these items helping or harming you in the workplace?

3. What do my coworkers do that makes my job easier?
Colleagues can make or break a job. Many people often find themselves in workplace cohorts, as work is their main source of socialization. Are these people beneficial in that manner, in addition to being helpful with practical application?

4. What do my coworkers do that makes my job harder?
If you’re on the outskirts of the aforementioned cohorts, that can make the workplace less enjoyable. Are the people you’re working alongside unprofessional? Do they neglect to help with tasks?

5. What does my boss do that makes my job easier?
More so than coworkers, bosses have the ability to make or break the humanistic vibe of a job. If you have a firm, but caring boss, that can make all the difference. If your boss is someone you can go to with concerns, you may be less likely to feel stress in the workplace.

6. What does my boss do that makes my job harder?
Flip everything that was said in #5. If your boss is a nightmare, that is incredibly likely to lead to feeling unappreciated and ultimately stressed out with work.

Every job is situational, but it is important to be aware of the toll that workplace burnout can take on you. Life is too short to settle. I understand that it’s easier said than done, but if you are not happy with where you’re at in your career, never stop looking for other opportunities.

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Op/Ed

5 must-do’s if you want to come across as a great communicator

(EDITORIAL) When you communicate in business, you have to change your talking style to give infor without losing engagement. Here’s how.

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Being confident during a work presentation, using tips to communicate efficiently.

Mark Zuckerberg once said, “The thing that we are trying to do at Facebook (now known as Meta), is just helping people connect and communicate more efficiently.” One of my biggest pet peeves on social media is the post that goes on and on and on. I’d like to think that I communicate fairly well, but I do tend to verge into over-communication every so often. I’m not an expert, but I have learned – and continue to learn – a few things about talking and writing to other people.

1. Know Your Audience

At a board meeting of a local non-profit, I was explaining a repair project that we had to vote on. When I got finished talking about the quotes and the insurance claim and said that we will probably come out even, the acting president looked at me and said, “why didn’t you just tell us this to start out with?” I realized I had wasted about 10 minutes because I didn’t know the audience. Definitely a case of overcommunication. All he wanted was the bottom line, but I thought the board needed to know every detail. Chalk that one up to a lesson learned. When your listener’s eyes start to glaze over, you’re probably talking too much.

2. Be Intentional – AKA Don’t Go Down Rabbit Trails

When I’m with my friends, I love just letting the conversation take us down whatever path. In business, I want brevity. I’m kind of a TL;DR person. Even though I want to make sure that people have enough information, I just want the bottom line. When you’re communicating with a co-worker or boss, don’t let your message get hijacked by taking a fork in the road. You’ll lose your audience.

3. Avoid the Obvious

I hate it when people regurgitate information or tell me what I already know. Call it mansplaining or just being thorough, but it’s annoying on the listener’s side. Give information that serves your audience, not your ego.

4. Don’t Assume

I could write a dissertation on assumptions. We all know the saying, “when you assume, you make an ass out of u and me…” When you’re communicating, find a balance between stating the obvious and assuming your listener knows what you’re talking about. The simple question, “do you need more information” can be a place where you can find out what your listener needs. But I’ve also learned to avoid assuming someone’s emotions or attitude about what you’re saying. Read their face, but know that confusion and daydreaming can look similar.

5. Good Communication Improves Productivity

When you’re an effective communicator, it directly impacts your effectiveness in the workplace. You get more done because you’re not going back and forth answering and re-answering questions and providing information. There are times when you do need to provide lengthy emails or have detailed meetings. Knowing the difference keeps you from being boring and long-winded. Take a few seconds (or even minutes) before sending that message or talking to a colleague about a project. You’ll be a better communicator.

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Op/Ed

What life-lessons college taught me both in and out of the classroom

(EDITORIAL) College teaches you some things that you will (and won’t) find in a textbook but it sure comes at a hefty price.

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People meeting with laptops in a college classroom

I walk the fence when it comes to a college education. It works for some and maybe not so much for others. It’s the whole “well-rounded” education thing that bothers me: First there’s 12 years in elementary and high school learning things that, even if you never use the information, it’s important to know. I get that.

After a lifetime of education

But when you go into college why repeat the process all over again? Why not focus on a career track? Learn and do! Get into the trenches! Where the heck are/were the survival skills you need to make it in the real world? Instead you get two more years of general education requirements! Really? And that’s going to make me a better “xx?”

I chanced upon a great editorial that touches on these same questions. And it got me to thinking: A college degree makes for a perfect world and on paper it looks good. Everyone with a framed BA or two would rule the world and help consumer trust levels, but I don’t believe it would actually make for better X’s (fill in the space with the career of your choice).

The big picture

I had a moral sense of needing to graduate so my folks, bless ‘em, would have the satisfaction of seeing their kid accomplish something they never did, but in the bigger scheme of things what was the purpose of Astronomy 101? Geology? I wanted to learn how to make movies and write scripts and I couldn’t even take a class on Film Theory until my junior year? NASA we have a problem.

Lesson Number One: What I learned fast is that college is a business. If the business can make more money in four or five years instead of one or two, of course you want to drag it out and milk it for all it’s worth. What’s the rush on graduating? Relax! Kick your feet up! That was a problem back then and I still see it as a problem now.

Fear: An incredible motivator

Instead of feeling like I was in the comfort zone of the universit,y I felt like the clock was ticking. Those first two years taught me that I needed to get out of that environment. THAT much I learned! I didn’t know what was waiting for me on the outside but some internal clock kicked in and I went from 12 hours a semester to 20 or whatever the maximum was that you could take with the Dean’s permission.

Lesson Number Two: The unknown is scary. It keeps you up at night. Ties your stomach in a knot. It almost makes you do things you might not ordinarily do. I graduated in three and half years and not four or five like many of my friends because I was scared shitless. Without even realizing it, by wanting so badly to get out of school, I was learning things that would serve me well in life: Goal setting, time management and speaking before a group.

I made a short list: a) See the world. b) Get paid to write about what I saw. c) Don’t look back. I graduated on a Friday and walked into a recruiter’s office on a Monday. I should have done that a few years earlier, but it didn’t matter. Within six months I was in Europe.

The ensuing 20+ years serving all over the world is a story for another time. I wish I would have started that odyssey a few years earlier.

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