By request – today I’ll tackle the topic of time management.
Because of the nature of the job, time management can be especially difficult for real estate agents. While it is true that you can – and should – go on listing appointments and show homes only by appointment; and many other activities are scheduled in advance, you do have to expect interruptions.
You never know when you’ll receive an offer on one of your listings and need to go meet with your seller. You also never know when a new client will call, wanting to discuss their needs, or a past client will call with a referral.
Those are the interruptions you welcome.
The first step in time management: Set your working hours
Thinking about your life and the people you share it with, decide what days and hours you’ll work – barring emergencies or time-sensitive negotiations. If you set your schedule and let your clients know your hours of availability, you’ll be fine.
Remember that few successful agents work 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. You have to schedule in some weekend or evening hours in order to accommodate clients who are only available after regular working hours.
You don’t need to offer 24/7 availability – honest!
Remember also that you don’t have to give anyone an excuse for why you won’t agree to meet with them at 11 a.m. on Sunday or answer your phone at midnight. If they do object, resist the urge to get mad and say what I heard one agent say: “I have a life too, you know!” Just be polite and state when you’ll be available for them.
By the way, I also heard a co-worker tell a would-be home buyer that she couldn’t show him homes on Thursday because that was her bowling day. He blew his stack, stomped out, and never came back.
A time management priority: Work when you’re working.
One of the most important things you can do is “work when you’re working.” If you spend time in the office, don’t let those who aren’t working pull you into a discussion about TV shows, diets, kids, or the local gossip. If you work from home, resist the urge to throw a load of clothes in the washer, mow the lawn, or turn on the TV.
Remember also that your work hours don’t have to fit anyone else’s mold. While much of your work is face-to-face or on the phone with clients, other agents, lenders, etc. much of it is not.
If you’re a lark or a night owl, you can write your blog posts and property descriptions; upload your listings to MLS; research new listings; schedule your prospecting letters; etc. early in the morning or late at night. You might find that you’ll do more and do it faster when there are no interruptions. I certainly did.
Make a list and add tasks to your appointment calendar.
Many time management experts recommend making a list each morning – I always thought it was best to do it the night before. Whenever you write it, a list will keep you from missing something important.
Your real estate appointments should already be there, but don’t forget about your non-real estate-related obligations.
For instance, for a few years when I was an agent, I had a weekly commitment to do my Grandma’s grocery shopping. For you it might be a child’s soccer game or recital, your Mom’s birthday party, or lunch with your significant other. Maybe it’s something purely personal, like a massage or a hair appointment.
Whatever it is, put it on your calendar just as if you were scheduling a client appointment.
After leaving time for each appointment, look at what you have left and fill it in with the most important things you want to accomplish in a day.
Many agents rely on time blocking to keep them on track with things like making phone calls to past clients, writing thank you notes, previewing new listings, putting up signs, checking flyer boxes, etc. If they schedule 2 hours for a task, when the 2 hours is up they move on to the next task.
Just because something isn’t urgent doesn’t mean it isn’t important.
There’s probably no one telling you that you have to get your marketing done on time, but marketing is an important task. It belongs on your calendar every day, even if only for an hour. Too many agents relegate this to “When I have time,” and their income suffers for it.
Because the life of a real estate agent is “interruptible,” I recommend scheduling marketing into your first available time slot each day. That way it won’t get pushed aside when you have to leave to present an offer, get involved with helping a client construct a counter-offer, or get a call from a new client.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”
“Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year
as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year
while another man gets a full year’s
value out of a week.”
Lean on automation and delegation to better manage your time:
Remember that some of your marketing activities, such as prospecting, can be automated.
Others, like posting the articles you’ve written to your blog or addressing envelopes for your “just listed” cards, can be delegated. You can also hire someone to put up or take down signs, refill your flyer boxes, and check your vacant listings.
If you don’t love to write, you can hire someone like me to write your prospecting letters, web pages, property descriptions, etc. You can also purchase pre-written prospecting letters and hire a virtual assistant to personalize them and upload them to your CRM.
When you have enough going on to warrant more help, hire a transaction coordinator to review documents; schedule closings; make sure time-sensitive tasks are done on time, etc.
Effective time management calls for using those odd little chunks of time.
Have you ever come back from an appointment with 20 minutes to spare before your next appointment? If so, follow the suggestions in this post to make the most of those minutes. You’ll be shocked at how much you can accomplish.
One more thing: Protect your time
Protect your time from those who would happily waste it. That includes co-workers (or friends) who like to sit around and gossip, and people who pose as clients, but will never contribute to your income.
There IS a time to turn down clients or to fire them. In case you missed it, I wrote about that in this August newsletter.