(This is a Part 4 of a four-part series.

(This is a Part 4 of a four-part series. See Part 1: Struggling for time in real estate; Part 2: Time misconceptions hurt real estate productivity; and Part 3: Real estate success: For love or money?)

The last three parts of this series identified a number of strategies to help you manage your time more effectively. Today’s column outlines 10 more tips to make more efficient use of your time.

1. Do errands and routine shopping in one trip

Rather than making separate trips to the grocery store, cleaners and bank, do it in a single trip. If you are making more than $10 per hour, hire someone to handle most of your errands. Better yet, avoid making the drive and do as many tasks online as possible. Arrange to have your commission checks deposited directly into your bank account. Order office supplies in bulk and have them delivered to your home. Have the cleaners pick up and deliver your dry cleaning. Many grocery stores either deliver to your home or will have your groceries ready to be picked up.

2. Avoid interruptions

The research shows it takes almost 20 minutes after an interruption to regain your concentration. For example, when you are showing property, answering a phone call pulls your focus off your buyers. When you allow this interruption, you send a message to the buyers the phone call is more important than they are. In addition, talking on your cell phone while driving increases the probability you will have an accident. While it may seem like you’re being efficient, in most cases you are not being effective.

3. Smart multitasking

Multitasking is usually a poor idea because it takes 10-20 minutes to reach 100 percent concentration. There are a few exceptions to this rule. For example, listening to audiotapes while you are driving or exercising can be a great way to strengthen your skills. Write notes to clients during quiet times on open house. Remember, interruptions break your concentration and make you less efficient. Using dead time wisely, however, can shorten your workweek considerably.

4. Link the profitable activities you dislike with something you enjoy

If you dislike prospecting, link it to something fun. For example, after you finish door knocking, treat yourself to a fun lunch or a favorite snack. Alternatively, drop off something special for a favorite past client. A warm thank you will wash away any rejections you experienced earlier. Remember, reinforcing yourself after difficult tasks makes it easier to do these tasks in the future.

5. Group unpleasant tasks together

If you call all your overpriced listings the same morning to ask for price reductions, you avoid spreading out this unpleasant activity over several days. In addition, a “yes” from one seller makes it easier to face the next call.

6. Form a support network

If you have children, make friends with other parents and alternate taking the kids to movies or other events. Pair up with another agent in your office and cover for each other twice a month. Hire a messenger service to deliver documents.

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7. Say “Yes” to saying “No”

Many agents have time management challenges because they have difficulty saying “No.” For one week, say “No” to everything outside your top 20 percent. If you are concerned about how people will react, let them know ahead of time about your experiment. Remember, “No” is a complete sentence. The trap for most agents is they feel they must justify why they are saying “No.” A simple, “No thank you” or “I have a conflicting appointment” is all that is usually necessary to avoid things you do not want to do.

8. Simplify

The more you have, the more time you have to spend taking care of it. Second homes, extra cars or a boat all require money and time to maintain. Simplifying the number of possessions you have can free up huge amounts of time. Also, let go of projects, roles or self-imposed obligations that consume your time.

9. Let go of “shoulds”

Generally we use the word “should” as a way to control ourselves or to control others. To experience the benefits of freeing yourself from “shoulds,” go on a “should diet” for one week. Notice when others attempt to control you with their “shoulds” and how good you feel when you let go of your own “shoulds.”

10. Clear your workspace of all distractions

Remember, clearing space allows more room for new business. Organization and systematization make you more effective and save you time.

Bernice Ross is an owner of Realestatecoach.com and can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com.

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