If you’ve been in the real estate business for any length of time, you know how easy it is for your day to “get away” from you. We all start each day with the intent of making progress in our business. We have appointments set with clients, colleagues, and networking groups. We have showings scheduled and family obligations. However, if you’re like me, after several years in this business, I find that my never-ending task list seems to grow and some things just never get checked off.
That bugs me, and I know it’s costing me business, so I thought I should look into some time management tips specifically for the real estate industry. Real estate is a bit unique because we are independent contractors and essentially in charge of our own schedules. That provides a lot of freedom, but it also provides many chances for unexpected interruptions and delays in our work days, plus the struggle to maintain a work/life balance in a business that operates 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
This post aims to share a few helpful tips I’ve collected to keep your day on track and manage your time a little more efficiently. I have actually tried these and they do work… if you stick with them. There is an adjustment period as all changes take time to get used to, but I think these will be positive moves for your business and personal productivity.
- Start each day with a list. It can be a “to do” list, a goal list, or whatever verbiage works for you. You need to create a plan for your day or it will be easy for others to rope you into other tasks. Complete the time-sensitive tasks first, and then move onto the others. I often like to start with a small task that I can get done quickly because I can get something checked off my list and feel a sense of accomplishment. That sets the tone for the rest of my day. Write down your list before opening your computer so you don’t get sidetracked by e-mails and other digital distractions.
- Set aside 15 minute blocks a few times each day to check e-mail. During those times, read and respond to e-mails, check in on your social media, and browse the news. Then get back to your work. It’s so easy to get sucked into surfing the Internet, but unless you’re using the web for a specific work task, it’s just a waste of time. Set a timer if you tend to lose track of time online. This simple task will give you a lot of time back in your day.
- Give all your appointments a buffer. If you think a lunch meeting will last an hour, schedule it for 90 minutes — just in case — so you have plenty of time to get to your afternoon appointments. In real estate, most gatherings take longer than expected. I learned this lesson the hard way, and I finally started implementing this idea when I have a lunch, a meeting with a client, showings, or a closing. It has helped tremendously to ease my stress level and has actually allowed me to be more punctual for my appointments. I very rarely have to call or text someone to say, “My meeting ran long. I will be 20 minutes late.”
- It is okay to say no. Your time is valuable, so you need to protect it and only agree to meetings, clients, and causes that will be beneficial for you. Suggest a time to show clients a property instead of letting them totally dictate the schedule. Don’t attend another dinner with a loan officer just because he or she asked; wait for a time when you actually have business to discuss. When you control your schedule, you provide more time for yourself to be productive and focus on growing your business rather than getting stuck in situations that don’t mean much to you professionally or personally.
- Make the most of your “snippets.” Snippets are short periods of time that often get wasted. When you’re early for a showing, waiting on a client before closing, standing in line somewhere, or waiting on coffee or a meal if you’re alone, find small tasks that you can complete during that time. Write a thank you note, make a quick phone call, update your task list, or post on your social media page. It’s amazing how much extra time you can find during the day if you use your snippets.
What do you think? I hope you will try a couple or all of these tips to manage your time and make the most of your work day. We are in a competitive, fast-paced business, so why not try a few things to give us an advantage? Good luck!