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10 tips to simplify your work day to avoid burnout

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Avoiding burnout

As business pros, it’s our nature to overload our schedules with tasks, goals, and responsibilities. We want to make the most of our time, which is understandable as we are nearly always busy and our time is valuable. However, because of this, we can easily become overwhelmed, burned out, and over-stressed. When we feel this way, we are increasingly unproductive, which causes us to be even more stressed and overwhelmed. But this vicious cycle doesn’t have to continue. Here are ten easy ways to avoid burning out in your professional life:

10. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify – We, as humans, tend to complicate things. Find easy ways to simplify your work processes or routines. If you can cut down a process of three steps down to one, do it. Cut out the unnecessary and streamline how you work.

9. Organization is Key – A disorganized office, email inbox, or calendar can cause undue stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. Take some time to get organized once and for all. Once you’re organized, take some time each week to maintain it.

8. Change Your Environment – Being stuck in the same office, cubicle, or workspace can really take its toll. Things become tedious, mundane, and boring. Add some excitement in your workday by changing your work environment. This means you can redecorate and rearrange your office or go to a local library, coffee shop, or café and work there for a day or two.

7. Small, Manageable Goals – Don’t get overwhelmed with all the tasks on your to-do list. Focus on each goal separately rather than on the collective. And make sure your goals are small and manageable. Be realistic about your tasks and how long it will take to accomplish them.

6. Prioritize Your Responsibilities – The truth is that you will have a lot of things to do each day. And there isn’t enough time in the workday to get everything done. So, prioritize. Rank your tasks in order of importance and deadlines. And start from there.

5. Give Yourself Much-Needed Personal Days – We’re all workaholics, but it’s crucial for your mental and emotional health to take a few personal days when you need them. On these days, do nothing work-related. Read a book, go for a walk, and relax. Then you can attack your work when you return with renewed vigor and energy.

4. Get Away From Your Desk – Take a break. You deserve it. Go get a cup of coffee or even just step outside for some fresh air. Take a walk around the office or just sit in your car for a few moments of silence. This will allow you to refocus.

3. Rediscover Enjoyment, Passion, and Excitement – Remember what it felt like to enjoy your work? It’s time to get that back. One way to do that is to research and test out new industry advancements. Take a class and put it to use. This can help you rediscover your passion for your industry and your chosen line of work.

2. Slow Down – Picking up the speed during your workday doesn’t necessarily mean you’re more productive. What it means is that it wears you out faster. Don’t take this to mean that you can’t work quickly. It means take a few moments to slow your pace and truly concentrate on the task in front of you.

1. Learn to Delegate – Again, you have a lot on your plate. Learn to delegate some of your tasks to reliable coworkers and assistants. Trust them and give them a chance to prove themselves and their capabilities. Delegating will free up some of you time to focus on other tasks or to even take a break so you can return to work refreshed and motivated.

Burning out on your professional life is avoidable; you just have to know how to do it. The above ten points will guide you to refreshing your physical, mental, and emotional faculties so you can be as productive as possible. Remember the goal is based on keeping you focused and rejuvenated long-term, not just short-term. It’s about creating, maintaining, and progressing your professional career into something you enjoy and continue to enjoy for many years to come.

The American Genius Staff Writer: Charlene Jimenez earned her Master's Degree in Arts and Culture with a Creative Writing concentration from the University of Denver after earning her Bachelor's Degree in English from Brigham Young University in Idaho. Jimenez's column is dedicated to business and technology tips, trends and best practices for entrepreneurs and small business professionals.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Sheila Rasak

    February 8, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Quite often I get tired first thing in the morning if I haven't prepared myself for my day the night before. If I make a list my time seems so well-managed at at the end of the day and not nearly as overwhelming. My "to do" list is number one!

    • Charlene Jimenez

      February 8, 2012 at 6:12 pm

      I completely understand, Sheila! I create to-do lists, too. It helps keep me focused on my tasks and my top priorities for the day or week.

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Coaching

Disputing a property’s value in a short sale: turn a no into a go

During a short sale, there may be various obstacles, with misaligned property values ranking near the top, but it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker!

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It’s about getting your way

Were you on the debate team in high school? Were you really effective at convincing your parent or guardian to let you do things that you shouldn’t have been doing? How are your objection-handling skills? Can you flip a no into a go?

When working on short sales, there is one aspect of the process that may require those excellent negotiation or debate skills: disputing the property value. In a short sale, the short sale lender sends an appraiser or broker to the property and this individual conducts a Broker Price Opinion or an appraisal, using special forms provided by the short sale lender.

After this individual completes the Broker Price Opinion or the appraisal, he or she will return it to the short sale lender. Shortly thereafter, the short sale lender will be ready to talk about the purchase price. Will the lender accept the offer on the table or is the lender looking for more? If the lender is seeking an offer for a lot more than the one on the table, mentally prepare for the fact that you will need to conduct a value dispute.

Value Dispute Process

While each of the different short sale lenders (including Fannie Mae) has their own policies and procedures for value dispute, all these procedures have some things in common. Follow the steps below in order to conduct an effective value dispute.

  1. Inquire about forms. Ask your short sale lender if there are specific forms that you need to complete in order to conduct a value dispute. Obtain those forms if necessary.
  2. Gather information. Your goal is to convince the lender to accept the buyer’s offer, so you need to demonstrate that your offer is in line with the value of the property. Collect data that proves this point, such as reports from the MLS, Trulia, Zillow, or your local title company.
  3. Take photos. If there are parts of the property that are substandard and possibly were not revealed to the lender by the individual conducting the BPO, take photos of those items. Perhaps the kitchen has no flooring, or there is a 40-year old roof. Take photos to demonstrate these defects.
  4. Obtain bids. For any defects on the property, obtain a minimum of two bids from licensed contractors. For example, obtain two bids from roofers or structural engineers if necessary
  5. Write a report. Think back to high school English class if necessary. Write a short essay that references your information, photos, and bids, and explains how these items support your buyer’s value. This is not something that you whip up in five minutes. Spend time preparing a compelling appeal.

It is entirely possible that some lenders will not be particularly open-minded when it comes to valuation dispute. However, more times than not, an effective value dispute leads to short sale approval.

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Coaching

Short sale standoffs: how to avoid getting hit

The short sale process can feel a lot like a wild west standoff, but there are ways to come out victorious, so let’s talk about those methods:

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What is a short sale standoff?

If you are a short sale listing agent, a short sale processor, or a short sale negotiator then you probably already know about the short sale standoff. That’s when you are processing a short sale with more than one lien holder and neither will agree to the terms offered by the other. Or… better yet, each one will not move any further in the short sale process until they see the short sale approval letter from the other lien holder.

Scenario #1 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they will proceed with the short sale, and they will offer Bank 2 a certain amount to release their lien. You call Bank 2 and tell them the good news. Unfortunately, the folks at Bank 2 want more money. If Bank 1 and Bank 2 do not agree, then you are in a standoff.

Scenario #2 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they cannot generate your approval letter until you present them with the approval letter from Bank 2. Bank 2 employees tell you the exact same thing. Clearly, in this situation, you are in a standoff.

How to Avoid the Standoff

If you are in the middle of a standoff, then you are likely very frustrated. You’ve gotten pretty far in the short sale process and you are likely receiving lots of pressure from all of the parties to the transaction. And, the lenders are not helping much by creating the standoff.

Here are some ideas for how to get out of the situation:

  • Go back to the first lien holder and ask them if they are willing to give the second lien holder more money.
  • Go to the second lien holder and tell them that the first lien holder has insisted on a maximum amount and see if they will budge.
  • If no one will budge, find out why. Is this a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan? If so, they have a maximum that they allow the second. And, if you alert the second of that information, they may become more compliant.
  • Worst case: someone will have to pay the difference. Depending on the laws in your state, it could be the buyer, the seller, or the agents (yuck). No matter what, make sure that this contribution is disclosed to all parties and appears on the short sale settlement statement at closing.
  • In Scenario #2, someone’s got to give in. Try explaining to both sides where you are and see if one will agree to generate their approval letter. If not, follow the tips provided in this Agent Genius article and take your complaint to the streets.

One thing about short sales is that the problems that arise can be difficult to resolve merely because of the number of parties involved—and all from remote locations. Imagine how much easier this would be if all parties sat at the same table and broke bread? If we all sat at the same table, then we wouldn’t need armor in order to avoid the flying bullets from the short sale standoff.

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Coaching

Short sale approval letters don’t arrive in the blink of an eye

Short sale approval letters may look like they’ve been obtained simply by experts, but it takes time and doesn’t just happen with luck.

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Short sale approval: getting prepared, making it happen

People always ask me how it is that I obtain short sale approval letters with such ease. The truth is, that while I have more short sale processing and negotiating experience than most agents and brokers, I don’t just blink my eyes like Jeannie and make those short sale approval letters appear. I often sweat it, just like everyone else.

Despite the fact that I do not have magical powers, I do have something else on my side—education. One of the most important things than can lead to short sale success for any and all agents is education.

Experience dictates that agents that learn about the short sale process
have increased short sale closings.

Short sale education opportunities abound

There are many ways to become educated about the short sale process and make getting short sale approval letters look easy to obtain. These include:

  • Classes at your local board of Realtors®
  • Free short sale webinars and workshops
  • The short sale or foreclosure specialist designations

As the distressed property arena grows and changes, it is important to always stay abreast of policy changes that may impact how you do your job and how you process any short sale that lands on your plate.

The most important thing to do is to read, read, read. Follow short sale specialists and those who blog about short sales on AGBeat, Google+, facebook, and twitter. Set up a Google Alert for the term ‘short sale’ and you will receive Google’s top short sale picks daily in your email inbox. Visit mortgagor websites to read up on their specific policies and procedures.

Don’t take on too much

And, when you get a call from a prospective short sale seller, make sure that you don’t bit off more than you can chew. Agents in most of America right now are clamoring for listings since we are in the midst of a listing shortage. But, if you are going to take on a short sale, be sure that it is a deal that you can close. And, if you have your doubts, why not partner up with a local agent that can mentor your and assist you in getting the job done? After all, half a commission check is better than none!

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