We want to help you make more money – right now. Go back to basics with Inman all month as real estate professionals share what’s working now and how they’re setting up to benefit in a post-pandemic world.
Have time blocks made you feel more frustrated, inefficient, and like you were the only real estate agent who didn’t get it together? You’re not alone.
We all wish we had more time, but I’ve found that better time management is the way to go when we don’t have more time. As the COO of a robust and growing broker, a large part of my work is focused on efficiency and how we can become more efficient through time management. By managing your tasks, you are managing your time. If I can help buy more time for our agents, they can do what they do best – sell houses!
Since we don’t have a predictable 9-to-5 career, it can sometimes seem like our business is spiraling out of control. By creating anchors in agents’ schedules without restricting their flexibility, they can relax and focus on their priority tasks.
When I meet with agents about their business, time management is always the focus of our conversation. The flexibility of the real estate industry doesn’t always allow us to control our schedules, which means agents have to adjust tasks when they have time to focus on clients and their needs.
Since agents can plan their days however they want, it can be a huge benefit for many people. At the same time, that freedom can also be a recipe for disaster if agents don’t manage their time efficiently. Between the flood of emails and managing multiple clients at the same time, it’s easy to let the chaos consume their work.
In order to gain control of their business plan, I often urge agents to forget about the restrictive practice of time blocking and instead consider anchoring their days on issues. By making their days thematic based on recurring tasks and business needs, agents can use time-blocking elements and incorporate them into a more flexible way of managing tasks weekly, monthly, or yearly.
In this system, agents dedicate each day of the week to specific tasks or areas of their business. So it doesn’t matter if they complete tasks at 6 a.m. before a busy day, 10:37 a.m. after a sales pitch, or 10:37 a.m. at 9 p.m. when the kids are in bed.
By anchoring their day to a topic, they can free up headspace to focus on the customers and transactions they need right now. Here are five ways real estate agents can use a fresh approach to effectively managing their schedules.
1. Forget about time blocking. Instead, theme your days
First, think about your schedule weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yes, yearly. What are some events that you know will be coming up this year? Write down graduations, weddings, holidays, or important work events so you can plan ahead.
Next, focus on your most important business elements. This list can include financial data, customer relationships, lead generation, and operational processes. Place these items as each day looks each week.
For example, you might want to block the time every Monday morning to help you plan the week ahead. Likewise, Tuesdays can be your customer contact day, where you review active buyers, offers, and contracts to make sure everything is running smoothly throughout the week.
2. Write it down on your calendar
When you know how to categorize your days, write the plan on your calendar. Whether your calendar is a physical book or an online book, make sure it has a Notes section that lists all of the tasks you need to work on for that particular day. Think of it like a shopping list.
For example, if your customer contact day is Wednesday, make a list of all the contacts you need to reach and what you need to discuss with those contacts, and write them down on your Wednesday calendar.
It’s also a great way to start planning events. When you know you have a work event, make a note of starting prep two weeks in advance so you can keep to your schedule. It is best to start this planning at the slowest parts of the year. That way, you don’t have to worry about planning your spring calendar when it is usually busy for agents.
3. Stack tasks and projects in slow periods
Real estate is cyclical, so ideally the time of year can tell you how busy you will be. Why not work in batches during slower periods to avoid additional stress during the main sales season?
Annual business planning at the end or beginning of the year might be a perfect time, but there are also certain times of the month or days that you find they aren’t that busy. Take the time to create, plan, and execute items that require more focus.
For example, if you’re sending a monthly newsletter, don’t wait until the previous month to create it. If January is usually slow for you, take the time to start all 12 (or as many as possible) of your newsletters so everyone is ready. Just because it’s March doesn’t mean you can’t schedule your December pop-bys.
4. Assign personal monthly check-ins
To make sure you’re managing your schedule as best you can, allow some time, either once a month or every two weeks, so that you can keep track of your most important tasks.
If you take time to plan your week on Mondays, use the first Monday of each month to go over the last month’s schedule and see what better way to help you meet your goals and stay at work . Apply this information to the month ahead.
It is best to have an honest discussion with yourself and find out where you can do better or where your time needs to be shifted so that you can decide how to be more efficient.
5. Don’t get ready! Leave it for next week
When you work with several different clients and manage multiple transactions, it is often impossible for real estate agents to plan their days down to the minute. Situations arise that force you to shift your attention elsewhere. If you tell yourself to do a certain task on a certain day at a certain time, you are only set up for one mistake.
With that said, don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t been able to do all of your chores as you hoped. I usually tell my agents to post anything they couldn’t accomplish in the notes area of their calendar for the next week. This simple action allows the activity to live on your calendar until it becomes a top priority. Remember to keep working and setting your schedule day by day.
Although agents get stuck in the “shiny object syndrome” of the real estate world and can quickly switch between tasks without getting things done, we are often caught up in the various software programs, lead generation tools, business plans, and so on.
Rest assured, there is no silver bullet for time management. A thoughtful approach and self-discipline are all you need when using time management to maximize your efficiency.
In my experience, this is the best way to ensure that you are managing the critical tasks while creating a place on your calendar to work on your company instead of always working in your company.
Leslie Hillman Dollinger is the Chief Operating Officer for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate for the Good Life Group in Omaha. Connect with her on Facebook or LinkedIn.