Scott’s Thoughts: Permission to Specialize

“Clarity about what matters provides clarity about what does not.”

Cal Newport, From “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World”

Dart board with a bullseye hit.What would you say are the most important, productive aspects of your role as a real estate agent? I bet if you asked a hundred agents what they thought were the most important aspects of their career, you would likely see a few topics come up over and over again. The top five most important might include:

  1. Cultivating deep, local market knowledge.
  2. Forming long-lasting relationships with clients.
  3. Understanding how to listen to the meaning behind what clients say and translate that into buying or selling a home.
  4. Studying macro and micro economic indicators to help predict market trends.
  5. Generating new leads.

How much of your work day do you spend on these activities? You might think they’re your constant focus, but if you keep a journal of how you actually spend your time on a daily basis, you may find yourself engaged in a high number of activities which have nothing to do whatsoever with the five areas listed above.

It’s not that you don’t have to pick up your dry cleaning, try to figure out why the form on your website is broken, or design new postcards, but why should these activities cost you valuable time on your core areas of expertise?

Technology has enabled us to perform a number of functions which used to be handled by administrative staff or outside agencies. Cal Newport, the author quoted above, recently talked about the costs of this in his blog post, “On the Law of Diminishing Specialization.” While these technologies were designed to cut costs, they ultimately came at a very high price: Specialists spent valuable time failing to do the high-end work they were meant to do.

The alluring idea that tackling 100% of your needs yourself “keeps overhead low” may be nothing more than an illusion. Especially when your competitors are dead-focused on the five areas essential to specialization.

Give yourself permission to be ruthlessly honest about what matters.

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