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By Paul A. DiSegna | Real Estate Pro in Rhode Island
  • 7 Ways to Rethink Your Approach to the Daily Grind

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Rhode Island, How To... in Rhode Island  |  December 26, 2011 4:50 AM  |  2,449 views  |  No comments

    RISMEDIA, Monday, December 26, 2011—

    In a perfect world, “work” and “home” would balance out neatly. We’d work from 8 to 5 each day, take an hour-long lunch, and then come home and spend uninterrupted time with our families. But for those of us here in the wake of the Great Recession, firmly entrenched in an “always on” society, this notion seems hopelessly outdated. Most of us are working longer, more stressful hours, and work is spilling over into evenings and weekends. No wonder a recent survey of North American employees found that 87 percent of respondents say their work/life balance (or lack thereof) is negatively affecting their health.

    With so many people suffering from this problem, you would think the natural solution would be to encourage businesses to help their stressed-out employees find more balance in their lives. Not so, says best-selling author Jon Gordon.

    “Work/life balance, at least in the sense that most of us think about it, is a myth,” says Gordon, whose new book is The Seed: Finding Purpose and Happiness in Life and Work. “It does not exist. For many people, it never has. Personally, I have never been able to balance the scales of work and life on a day-to-day basis. Rather, I’ve come to realize that the dance between work and life is more about rhythm than balance.”

    Gordon compares the rhythms of work and life to the rhythms of nature. There’s a time and a season for everything.

    Read on for Gordon’s advice on rethinking the concept of work/life balance and finding passion and purpose in both arenas:

    First, let go of the work/life balance notion. Instead, think “purpose and passion.” It’s true that work/life balance is a topic that seems to be on many minds, says Gordon, citing a recent NPR segment titled, “In America, Too Much ‘All Work, No Play’?” But in many ways, he insists, a perfectly balanced life is a perfectly tepid life. How much balance do you think Bono has when U2 is on tour? What about an Olympic athlete preparing for a competition? Or the leadership team at Facebook? Probably not much, but their passion and purpose fuel them to work harder and longer with more joy and satisfaction in both work and life.

    Look at your work/life blend over the past year. Consider it as a whole. Rather than thinking of your work and life day to day, think of it as a whole. How many times did you get away with your family last year? Were there particular weeks/months where you worked really, really long hours? Were there times you were less busy? You might find that, when viewed that way, you did have a balanced life. Or you might realize you need to make a change in the way you do things during the upcoming year.

    Identify the “seasons” in your company’s work flow. In nature there’s a season for everything. Spring (planting season) and fall (harvest) are times of extreme work. But there’s a slow down in the summer when plants are growing, and, of course, winter is when farmers do other things (repair work on house and equipment, etc.).

    Most industries/companies work this way, too. They have busy seasons (when they’re getting ready for major industry events or peak sales times, for instance) and not-so-busy seasons. It might be easy for you to plan your work/home life flow around these times. Not just in terms of when you plan vacations, but also in terms of daily work hours. During the slow time, it’s okay to leave a little earlier each day if you know you’re going to be working long hours once busy season arrives.

    Keep in mind your family’s “seasons” too. Of course, you can’t base everything on work schedules. There are times your family needs you more than others: birth of a new baby, when a child starts school, or when an older parent is having a crisis and needs you to care for him/her.

    Build up a “hard work” bank account with your company. When the company needs you to really push, push hard. (And do it cheerfully.) This way, when you need to slow down the pace or take time off, they’ll be willing to work with you. Gordon suggests you think of it as making deposits into a bank account.

    When you’re at work, really engage. Fully commit to whatever you’re doing at work. Don’t complain—positivity goes a long way. And don’t feel guilty that you are not at home. Feeling guilty is a recipe for misery and poor performance on the job and unhappiness at home. Commit fully to your season of hard work while planning for your season of rest and recharging.

    “When you commit to your season of work, you won’t be tempted to watch the clock, dreading each hour that will pass before you finally get to leave work for the day,” says Gordon. “You’ll be more successful at work and feel more fulfilled.”

    When you’re at home, really BE at home. Throw yourself into those precious family relationships. Don’t spend family time thinking about work or zoning out in front of the TV or computer. It’s not about the amount of time we spend with our families, says Gordon. It’s about how engaged we are during the time we do have with them.

    “When you focus on planning your life around the rhythms of work and home, you have to be fully committed to the demands of the specific season,” he says. “So when you’re in a family season, don’t constantly check your BlackBerry. Don’t take work calls during dinner. Devote as much of yourself as possible to your family. Use the time that you wouldn’t get to spend with them if you were in a work season to do something special. Read to your child each night. Take your family on a surprise weekend trip.

    “When you live your non-work season to the fullest, you’ll be all the more motivated to give 110 percent when you’re at work,” he adds.

    “What I’m really talking about is making the most of your time however you spend it—of making each and every moment really count,” says Gordon. “Understanding your rhythms and planning and committing to the seasons of your life may not help you achieve perfect work/life balance. But you will create a life that is more passionate, more productive, and happier in every way.”

    For more information, visit www.JonGordon.com.

  • Seal Your Home's Envelope for Savings

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Rhode Island, Remodel & Renovate in Rhode Island, How To... in Rhode Island  |  December 22, 2011 11:29 AM  |  2,843 views  |  No comments
    Frank Hopton
    11 West Park Street
    Telephone: (401) 635-2242Providence, Rhode Island 02908
    Email: fhopton@HearthStoneInspections.comwww.HearthStoneInspections.com


  • Stop Procrastinating; Do It Now!

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Rhode Island, How To... in Rhode Island  |  December 21, 2011 3:56 AM  |  2,757 views  |  No comments

    RISMEDIA, Wednesday, December 21, 2011—

    Whether it's filing your taxes on time, paying your bills, cleaning out the garage, or getting out of bed to exercise, everyone tends to procrastinate once in a while. It has been said that Robinson Crusoe is the only person to have all of his work done by Friday. Are you the type of person who tackles projects head on and gets tasks done right away, or do you tend to procrastinate and put things off? The habit of procrastination is an attractive form of self-sabotage and is the grave in which opportunity is buried.

    Procrastination can take a toll on all aspects of your life and has a significant impact on your mental and physical health. The habit of procrastination brings with it a whole host of overwhelming, negative emotions such as increased stress, anxiety, guilt, fear, worry, depression, and low self-esteem.

    Here are five proven tips to help you overcome the problem of procrastination and become more productive.

    1. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. You can keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed by breaking your project up into smaller, more manageable bite-size tasks. Develop a written plan of action and set realistic timeframes for the completion of each task. If you find that you're able to complete a task faster than you have planned, you will feel good about being ahead of schedule.

    2. Be sure to allow plenty of time to finish each task. Once you have estimated how much time you will require to accomplish your project, schedule your work into short, thirty-minute blocks of time to keep you energized. If you do not need all the time you've allowed, you will be able to progress ahead of schedule.

    3. Stay focused and avoid distractions such as talking to coworkers, checking your e-mails, playing computer games, answering phone calls, or surfing the Internet.

    4. Make a commitment to accomplishing your project and hold yourself accountable. If you catch yourself thinking about not working on your project, remember the Nike motto and "Just Do It." Remind yourself of how good you'll feel when you've completed your project.

    5. Become more efficient by multitasking whenever possible. How many important projects or tasks on your "things to do list" keep getting put off because you have deliberately chosen to procrastinate? The good news is that procrastination is not a character flaw you were born with, but a habit that can be overcome with self-discipline and the determination to "Do it Now!"

    "Much of the stress that people feel doesn't come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they started."
    - David Allen

    John Boe presents a wide variety of motivational and sales-oriented keynotes and seminar programs for sales meetings and conventions.

    For more information, visit www.johnboe.com.

  • Simple Steps to Your Best 2012 Business Plan, Part 2

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Rhode Island, How To... in Rhode Island  |  December 19, 2011 4:28 AM  |  1,042 views  |  No comments

    RISMEDIA, Monday, December 19, 2011—

    Real estate agents are people, too. You have personal lives. You have emotional ups and downs in addition to financial ups and downs. The following steps, continued from part 1, ensure that your 2012 Business Plan works for your business and your life.

    1. What will be the evidence? What will you have that you want and how will your life change? This will be the clear indicator of your strengthened skill at the end of 2012.

    a. What do you want to stop or start doing, do more of, buy, practice etc?
     What daily or weekly actions will you take, every day or every week to ensure that you strengthen that skill?

    2. What is the one greatest weakness that stands in the way of your success?

    a. Do you want to strengthen that weakness or successfully strategize around it so that you can succeed without it? How will you do that?
     What daily or weekly actions will you take, every day or every week to ensure you strengthen or strategize that weakness?
     At the end of 2012, how will you know you have succeeded?

    3. Quickly, without analysis, what amount of income, sales volume, or number of sales would give you the indication, the confidence that you are well on your way to the success you imagine? Translate your answer into all three; income, sales volume, and number of sales.

    4. If you are an experienced agent multiply the number of sales you want times two (for new agents multiply times three). Then divide by 40.

    a. For example 20 sales x 2 = 40. 40 divided by 40 = 1.
    b. That is how many new clients you need each week to achieve your goal. (In the example one new client each week for 40 weeks) For most agents it is a shockingly small number.

    First Huge Key to Success: Focus on results instead of activities. Throughout the year, instead of focusing on the number of activities (calls, mailings, blog posts etc.), focus on achieving this number of new clients each week. Focusing on the activities leads to frustration and self-criticism. Focusing on the results, new clients, stimulates motivation and provides insight into what is working in your business and what needs your attention. This simple shift in focus is the reason that our coaching clients are so successful year after year even in difficult and challenging markets.

    Second Huge Key to Success: You are about to set monthly sales goals. To have control over your business and motivation throughout the year you must set your goals by contract date instead of closing date. That is, if the contract is signed by the buyer and seller in March and will close in May, then count it toward your March sales goal. Setting goals by closed dates is a costly mistake. It is the reason that so many agents find it difficult to be motivated and can’t stick to a business plan throughout the year.

    5. Write down your sales volume and number of sales goals for 2012.

    a. Choose one of the two (sales volume or number of sales) and chunk it down to monthly goals for January through December. Do not simply divide the number of sales by 12. You are likely to sell more in some months than others. Ideally, get your history of sales by month for the past one, two, or three years so that you can discover any patterns that will make these monthly goals even more relevant and motivating. Then set monthly goals for each month.
    b. Calculate the other number for each month; sales volume or number of sales.

    Rich Levin is a real estate coach and productivity expert.

    For more information, visit www.RichLevin.com.

  • Simple Steps to Your Best 2012 Business Plan, Part 1

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Rhode Island, How To... in Rhode Island  |  December 17, 2011 7:26 AM  |  1,155 views  |  No comments

    RISMEDIA, Friday, December 16, 2011—

    Real estate agents are people, too. You have personal lives. You have emotional ups and downs in addition to financial ups and downs. Following my system of 16 steps, the first five of which are outlined in Part 1, will ensure that your 2012 business plan works for your business and your life.

    Most of the steps in this plan can be completed in 15 minutes or less. It is important to complete each step before moving on to the next. Spend no more than 60 minutes at a time with these business-planning steps. Complete this plan in a series of brief planning sessions over at least 30 days. This allows for your creativity and insight to rise and anxiety to fall.

    If you finish this simple planning process before the beginning of 2012 you will have your best year ever (or best for a long time). If it is not possible to complete this plan before the year’s end, then complete it over the next 30 days.

    It is not the work that is hard. It is the self-discipline; which starts with beginning you work on this business plan, today.

    The Steps, Part 1
    1. Make a list of your Dream Priorities in every aspect of your life.

    2. Write your answer to this question: “What do you want your real estate career to do for your life in 2012?

    a. Why do you want that? Why is that important to you?
    b. Who else will benefit? How will they benefit? Why is that important to you?

    3. Choose one of those dream priorities from 1 above and break it down. Write what you would like to accomplish in that area by the end of each month in the next year, January through December. Do this quickly. You can improve it later.

    4. Answer this question: What are your three greatest strengths that will contribute to your success in 2012? How will each contribute to your success by the end of 2012?

    5. What are three to five of your real estate or business skills that need the most improvement? That is, they are costing you money, now and by improving them your production will increase.

    Rich Levin is a real estate coach and productivity expert.

    For more information, visit www.FreeCoachingWebinars.com orwww.RichLevin.com.

  • Survey: Most Stay under One Roof with Family for Holidays

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Rhode Island  |  December 9, 2011 7:30 AM  |  761 views  |  No comments

    RISMEDIA, Friday, December 09, 2011—

    There’s no place like home for the holidays, and a new consumer survey from Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC confirmed that the majority of Americans wouldn’t have it any other way. Approximately four in 10 respondents (39 percent) say their holiday get-togethers include 15 or more family members and friends, and more than half (54 percent) say they stay overnight with their families so they can all be in one household during the holidays.

    Additionally, the survey of nearly 1,000 people found:

    • More than three-quarters (78 percent) of Americans “deck the halls” by decorating their home for the holidays. The vast majority (67 percent) say they decorate some, without going overboard, while 11 percent say they “go all out.” Only 21 percent don’t decorate at all.

    • Most people claim they’ve never snooped for presents. 77 percent of respondents said they have never looked for stashed-away presents before it’s time to open them. (Only 23 percent freely admit to peeking around.)

    • People gather in spots where they can mingle and graze.When asked which room is most used during the holidays (the kitchen, dining room or living room/den), the kitchen and living room are split almost evenly as the most popular spaces (41 percent and 43 percent, respectively), while 12 percent said the dining room is the most frequented area.

    “Almost everyone has a memory of the holidays that involves being home with friends and family,” says Michael Fischer, chief marketing officer, Coldwell Banker Real Estate. “Americans cook and share food, host parties and bring everyone together in our homes.”

    For more information, visit www.coldwellbanker.com.

  • Loan Modification is Stressful; Know Your Options

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Rhode Island, Financing in Rhode Island, How To... in Rhode Island  |  December 1, 2011 5:39 AM  |  942 views  |  No comments

    RISMEDIA, Thursday, December 01, 2011—

    When the Obama administration rolled out the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) in 2009, officials estimated 3 to 4 million borrowers would seek relief from their mortgages through the program amidst the worst recession and housing market collapse in decades.

    More than two years later, those projections have proven to be optimistic, to say the least. According to the Treasury Department, about 700,000 homeowners had sought aid from HAMP through the third quarter of 2011.

    That’s a long way from 3 million-plus.

    “A lot of homeowners who are in dire straits with their mortgages can be intimidated by the confusing process for getting the help they need, but it doesn’t have to be that way,” says Stephfan Nurse, a loan modification expert and CEO of Consumer Education.  “The key is knowing and understanding your options. With education, you are empowered.”

    Nurse founded ConsumerEducationOnline.com for homeowners seeking loan modifications to get the information needed to navigate the process. It includes a free pre-qualifier, where homeowners can input their figures and determine for which modification program they qualify.

    His “Mortgage Reduction” software uses the same guidelines as lenders and helps ensure that financial statements are complete and ready for lender approval. It also coaches homeowners, using video tutorials.

    “Applying for a loan modification is a stressful process that can take several months without a lot of communication back and forth from the lender,” Nurse said. “The best way to ease that stress is to know as much as you can about your options and to understand what goes on behind the scenes to avoid simple mistakes.”

    Among Nurse’s need-to-know items are:

    • Make sure a loan modification is right for you: Ask yourself if you are emotionally attached to the home, because a lender likely will extend the terms of the mortgage to 40 years to reduce the monthly payment. If you’re underwater on the mortgage—if you owe more than the home is worth—a modification probably is not the answer because of the years added to the note. If you’re not emotionally tied to the home, ask local realtors about options such as short sales.

    • A loan modification is not a refinance: A loan modification reduces your monthly mortgage payment without requiring any credit checks, appraisals, home equity or closing costs. The only qualification is financial hardship, which can include reduction in income, illness, divorce or any number of trying circumstances.

    • HAMP is not your only option: The government may want you to think that, but the fact is, more than 70 percent of modifications now are internal modifications made available by the investor holding the mortgage note. The only way to get an internal modification is to ask for one. Worth noting: HAMP bases its modifications on gross income (your mortgage must exceed 31 percent of what you make in a month) while internal modifications are based on monthly net (after-tax) income.

    • Be complete and thorough in your paperwork: Lenders receive thousands of faxes every day, so make sure your account number is on every page and that all questions and categories are filled out. A document manager who comes across an incomplete form may put it aside and move on to the next one. Just like that, the 30 days you may have to wait to hear from that manager becomes 60 or 90. It’s also best to follow up with the lender weekly.

    “The process can be filled with stress, mistakes and misinformation,” Nurse said. “It was a journey to get your house. Be ready for the journey to keep it.”

    For more information, visit www.consumereducationonline.com.

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