Task Management: The Key to Getting It All Done
A real estate agent that I coach recently presented me with a beautiful weekly calendar with lead generation, client follow-up, and potential client follow-up neatly organized according to time blocks and color-coded. I complimented him on his diligence and use of color in a calendar format and then informed him that with his personality type and business, this type of planning was not in his best interest. Why?
It's not in the agent's best interest because this type of planning is time management. However, the best way to handle all the things that we need to do in real estate is through task management.
So many agents plan their "perfect work week." They get out their leather binders, color-coded tabs, and highlighters. They make lists and schedules, attempting to control the uncontrollable.
Let's take a look at a typical work week based on a schedule:
Monday morning, an agent has four tasks on his schedule. He gets them done. Sigh of relief. He takes it easy the rest of the day.
Tuesday rolls around. Seven items on the schedule. He gets them all done. Whew. He takes it easy the rest of the day.
Wednesday. Six items on the schedule. Just as the agent is starting the first one, the phone rings. A potential client says, "I'm in town for one day and one day only. I need to go look at as many houses as I can between now and five o'clock."
The agent can't just say, "That's impossible. I have six things on my To Do List and I have until 5 o'clock to get them done. I'm sorry. Have a nice day!"
Of course not... We're real estate agents. It's our job to take sudden opportunities like this and get out there to show homes. This is the game we play and when we have a player step up to the plate, we must throw a pitch.
Don't live your life trying to manage your time in real estate. Your work week will never end up the way you plan it out. I've worked with thousands of real estate agents. With full certainty, I can tell you that the most successful ones do not manage time.
Instead, they manage tasks.
What do I mean by this? Well, for example, I write The Zebra Report every Tuesday morning. Trust me, there are weeks it's hard to write. In a perfect world, I'd set up the same time every Tuesday and block it off.
But the reality of life is that not every Tuesday morning is perfect. What happens when my son injures his knee and I have to go pick him up and take him to the doctor? What happens when my office computer crashes and my technician is a hundred miles away fixing someone else's computer?
Reality has its own plans for Tuesday.
But because I manage tasks, it's very simple. Some weeks I have extra time. Do I lollygag around, twiddle my thumbs, and watch Oprah when I have extra time? No, I write two or three more Zebra Reports so I'm ahead of the game.
Now, when there's a disastrous Tuesday morning, I have a Zebra Report "up my sleeve" all ready to go. It's all about taking action when you do have the time. Know what your actions are, and fit them in where you can. Allow flexibility into every day.
Naturally, some tasks are more important than others. I understand this. Categorize your tasks. Get the high priority ones done as early as you can. Then, fit in mid-priority tasks. Then, low priority tasks.
Here's a list of the most common tasks agents should manage in their business:
Task #1: Send Mailers
Every single month like clockwork, send your mailers on a specific date. This doesn't mean you start work on those mailers on that date. It means they must be ready to go.
Perhaps next month you're going to be on vacation. If so, you'd better double up this month so your mailings go out on time while you're not here.
Task#2: Weekly Contact With Sellers
If you're not in contact each and every week with people who are currently listing with you, keeping them up to date on how the market ebbs and flow, then you are doing yourself a great disservice.
Task #3: Paperwork
Most agents don't have the time to sit down, go over their files, and make sure everything is in order. If you're one of them, make sure you have an assistant taking care of this for you. It takes only a day or two for paperwork to spiral and spin out of control.
If you don't have an assistant, then you have to sit down, lock yourself in your office, and face the paper every week.
Task #4: Education
Over 90% of agents who need continuing clock hour education get it within 7 days of their license expiration date. Talk about pressure! This is NOT the recipe for true learning. Cramming doesn't work.
Make sure education is part of your weekly routine. Even if it's just a bit of reading or calling to sign up for a class. Take an education action every week, even if it is just a 15 minute video. You won't believe what you can learn on YouTube!
Task #5: Follow-Up
It's so easy to forget about past clients and transactions when you can barely keep up with what's going on today. But it's important. Follow-up is one of the greatest lead generation tools for the simple reason that so few people actually do it. Once the sale is done, most agents disappear.
Don't be one of them. Stay in contact with your past clients, follow-up on any problems or questions they may have, and provide them with information that proves their purchase was a sound investment.
Take these tasks, prioritize them, and get them done every week. As for your schedule, the only guarantee I can make is that nothing will go as planned. I encourage you to watch my Hour of Power video for some inspiration on how you can get it all done.
By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI - The founding partner of The Lones Group, Denise Lones, brings over two decades of experience in the real estate industry. With expertise in strategic marketing, business analysis, branding, new home project planning, product development, and agent/broker training, Denise is nationally recognized as the source for all things real estate. With a passion for improvement, Denise has helped thousands of real estate agents, brokers, and managers build their business to unprecedented levels of success, while helping them maintain balance and quality of life.