Who needs time blocking when you set your own schedule? After all, that's one of the best things about being a real estate agent is the fact that you get to make your own schedule. As a matter of fact, that's why many of us became agents. However, it didn't take us very long to figure out that one of the most difficult things about being a real estate agent is the fact that you get to make your own schedule. While making your own schedule sounds fabulous in theory, it can be difficult to implement.
Time Management is a Struggle
Being a real estate agent is a second or third career for many people. When coming from corporate America, you were told when to show up for work, when to take lunch and when to leave, it's understandable that new agents have difficulty coming up with a new work schedule. Your first inclination is to relax and the relaxing becomes a habit until you realize that you have a job to do. In real estate there isn't anyone telling you what to do or when to do it. It's completely up to you. But if they have any hope of being a successful real estate agent, you have to learn fairly quickly how you work best and put together a daily schedule and stick with it.
Step One - Know Yourself
The first step to putting together a realistic work schedule is to be completely honest with yourself. There isn't anyone looking over your shoulder. This is for your eyes only. There are no right or wrong answers. Ask yourself these questions.
- Are you a morning or an evening person?
- When do you do your best thinking?
- What is your morning ritual?
- Do you ease into your day or do you hit the ground running?
- What are your ideal working hours?
- When do you want to stop working for the day?
- What days do you want to take off?
If you have children, a spouse or pets, it may take you a few hours to get everyone else started on their day before you can start working...and that's okay. The important thing to know is when you can and want to start working. Every agent will have a different schedule. Some will want to start working at 8:30 in the morning and for others it may not be until noon. It's completely up to you. There is no judging here.
Step Two - Schedule Your Activities
Get into a routine. Just like you have a morning ritual, you should have a work ritual. As a real estate agent there are several tasks that you need to do on a daily basis and others that need to be done on a weekly basis. Your daily tasks include activities like:
- Checking Email
- Returning Phone Calls
- Checking the Multiple Listing Service
- Previewing Properties
Use time blocking to determine how much time you will schedule for each of these activities. Time blocking is an effective way to manage your time because it makes you adhere to a schedule. Parkinson's Law sums it up best, "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion". In other words, if you give yourself one hour to make 10 phone calls, you can do it. Conversely, if you don't time block, those same 10 phones can take you the entire day to complete. Put everything on your calendar, both personal and professional appointments. This is important when it comes time for you to schedule appointments with clients.
Step Three - Be Flexible
Being flexible may sound a bit strange after just telling you to adhere to a schedule. But unexpected tasks do come up and you have to be agile enough to accommodate them. Properties will come on the market that your client will want to see immediately or you may get a last minute listing appointment and you have to drop everything to meet the demands of your prospective client. When you time block it's easy to swap out a block of time to do another activity. But know this, unexpected tasks are exceptions and not the rule. If you find that you are constantly changing your schedule, you probably need to take a closer look at your schedule to see where adjustments can be made. Remember, this is your schedule and it may take a few attempts until you get a schedule that works for you.
Step Four - Put in the Work
Treat being a real estate agent like the real job it is. It takes works. It doesn't mean that you have to work seven days a week, ten hours a day. You can do that if you like, but you won't have much of a life outside of real estate. But what it does mean is that when you work, really work. Focus on the activities you need to do to reach your goals. When you put together your schedule you will be able to clearly see how much time you need to devote to real estate. If you really stay focused you will find that your days will range from four to eight hours a day of work. Any more than that probably means that you are either doing busy work or have too many distractions. This is where time blocking comes into play. Try starting each day with a "To Do" list and focus on those activities in the blocks of time you have assigned to them. Once you have completed everything on your list you have the option of continuing to work or calling it a day. This is how you achieve and enjoy a great work/life balance. When you work when you're supposed to work, you don't feel guilty when you're not working.
Learn to Say No
Another issue real estate agents have is saying "No." This is especially true for newer agents. You are in dire need of business and are afraid that if you say no they'll find someone who will say "Yes." But saying yes to everything and everyone that comes along will lead you to become overextended and stressed out. When you start time blocking it makes it easier to say no because you'll be able to see where you have time in your schedule for a new commitment. We all get the same 24 hours in each day. It is up to you to use your time wisely, get the most of each day and make time for your friends and family. Give time blocking a try and let me know how it works for you.
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Inman News named Candy Miles-Crocker as one of the Top 25 Real Estate coaches in 2016. Candy, “The Real-Life Realtor”, coaches, mentors and trains new and experienced real estate agents to transform their business by mastering her proven systems for success. She is a firm believer in managing expectations and her goal is to elevate the perception of real estate agents among the general public through education so every client has an amazing real estate experience. Candy’s unique training methods have shown agents what it takes to be successful!
Learn more about her training program at www.RLRETraining.com or send her an email at Candy@RLRETraining.com.