The initial appeal of a real estate career is often about time. The freedom of flexibility, being present for all the family events, and no one telling you where to be and when…that sounds pretty fantastic! The reality, as we all know, is anything but the above and, over time, even the best of us can develop habits that rob us of our freedom and most valuable asset: time.
Here are some ways we can reset the clock on some of those bad habits and get back to where we are truly enjoying our careers instead of feeling burdened by the feeling of never having enough time in the day.
Set boundaries with your clients – and yourself!
These are important to put into place at the outset of the relationship with your clients to set their expectations, and even more important that you stand firm on those boundaries. Decide which hours you respond to emails, texts, and phone calls and which you do not. You may be their only agent, but they are not your only client so communications at 9 PM (or later!) is not something that is going to set you up for success in the morning to have a productive day.
Make small, incremental changes
Don’t attempt a full overhaul of your schedule or business, that’s going to halt your progress. Make one small change a day and monitor what is working or not over time to help you decide which new habits to keep and which aren’t effective for you.
Have a business plan
One of the biggest time-wasters is not knowing exactly where you’re going. Even if you’re a single agent, you need to have a business plan: How many houses are you going to sell this year? How many contracts do you need to write to do that? How many clients do you need in order to write that many contracts? How many people do you need to connect with to get that many clients? What prospecting and marketing efforts do you need to make in order to connect with new people?
Knowing these metrics will give you a well-lit path to walk and you can break that down into the actions and efforts you need to take each day and week. If you’re staring at your yearly goal with no smaller plan, you will inevitably waste time on the wrong actions to get there and likely miss the goal at the end of the year.
Do Not Disturb
Whether it’s a sign on your door, a timer, or a setting on your phone, setting aside time for uninterrupted work is going to add hours back to your week. It’s easy to look up at the end of the day and realize that the entire day has gone by without you completing the things you needed. Being very intentional with your work time is going to make a big difference for you and leave you feeling fulfilled instead of drained at the end of the day. On average, it takes over twenty minutes for someone to get back into their workflow after being interrupted. Multiply that by several times per day and you’ve got a lot of lost time on your hands. This is a great way to practice holding the boundaries firm that we talked about earlier: it can wait an hour until you’re done with this important work, I promise.
Prioritize the work that is going to yield you the most results
What are the activities you do that truly move the needle forward for your business? For most of us, it’s prospecting for new clients and following up with existing contacts. Schedule this non-negotiable time into your day and honor it every single day you can. One day missed is no big deal, but finding yourself “busy” will easily lead to weeks or even months with no prospecting if you don’t set the time aside to create new business.
Audit your time and make the necessary changes
If you have a mobile device, you will have some type of tracker to educate you on where you are spending your time online. If you’re looking for more time, you can likely find it in the social media section of your phone. Take the five hours you spent on Instagram yesterday and try to knock it down to just one. You’ll still get your fix, and you’ll have FOUR hours back in your day to do the things that you actually need to do.
Utilize cloud storage and digital resources
Don’t get me wrong, I love a paper notebook. It’s satisfying to write in and to turn those pages, but if I’m at a showing and someone calls needing a file that I’ve left on my desk across town that’s a BIG time waster. Organize your files into a digital storage system that you can access from anywhere. Utilize a single digital calendar instead of the hand-written one you’re always struggling to keep updated. The things you use often or are necessary for your transactions should be just a click away to save time AND deals!
Model your behavior after someone who is achieving the level of success you are striving for
Find someone who seems to be nailing their work and ask if you can talk to them about how they structure their day, manage their time, and handle multiple transactions successfully. Ask them about their habits and processes around these and adopt what they are proving to be as successful time and business management strategies.
Organize your email
Do you have hundreds or thousands of emails sitting in your inbox? Disorganized communication leads to loss of time and potentially losing crucial information to hold a transaction together for your clients. Use tags, filters, and folders to put things into the right places. Unsubscribe from the emails you never read. Turn off notifications that are redundant and leave on only the most important ones.
Keep your meetings on topic and short
We’ve all seen the look of our clients or agents’ eyes glazing over. The meeting has gone on too long and we’ve lost their attention. After an hour, our ability to retain information and connect in a meaningful way decreases significantly. Keep your meetings on topic with an agenda, and share with those you are meeting with what time the meeting begins and ends and honor it. Having a plan will make these more effective in a shorter amount of time.
Utilize all of your CRM’s tools and automate everything you can
Whether it is Follow Up Boss or another CRM, you’re going to have tons of tools at your disposal to organize your work. Put everything into your CRM having to do with that client or transaction so it’s easy to find. Sync your calendar and your email so you don’t have to look in multiple places. Automate everything you can ahead of time so that you don’t have reminders popping up for birthdays and house-a-versaries. Get to know all of the tools that they offer as they are designed to save you time and effort to accomplish more.
Ditch the multitasking
Yes, you can walk your dog and talk on the phone at the same time, but prospecting while you answer emails and check social media? Not a good idea. Focus on one item at a time and turn off your distractions. If I was checking my email or Slack messages while writing this for you, it would take me all day! I’ve set a timer, turned off everything aside from this and my gif search and I’m going to knock this out and whatever else I can before that buzzer rings. Giving something your undivided attention will not only improve the quality of your work, but your clients and potential clients will be able to feel that you are giving them your all, which makes you more desirable to work with.
Use your calendar for everything
By putting everything on your calendar, you are making micro-commitments. I commit to prospecting at this time on these days. I commit to meeting this client at this time. I commit to going to my daughter’s soccer game.
This will help you block off the non-negotiables, see where you have redundancies, and can save time, and overall work more efficiently because you have a plan for your day. I share my work calendar with my personal one so that I can see everything in one place, which is also a time saver.
Schedule time for self-care and rest
You’re never going to have it all done. You’re never going to be finished. At some point during the day, you’re going to need to call it and go enjoy yourself – enjoy your life! If you are running yourself ragged for days and weeks on end your entire productivity level is going to drop and, soon enough, you won’t be able to help anyone because you’ll be so burnt out. Take care of yourself first, it’s not selfish, and leave some reserves in the tank every day. You’re still doing great work, you’re still taking fantastic care of your clients, you are just ensuring that you can continue to care for them longer because you’re putting yourself first.