It’s summer, and I’m a little bored, and frankly a little depressed because I had surgery just two weeks ago. I have two accepted offers and no contracts, and frankly no desire to work at all. I could shepherd those two offers into contract and call that a month’s work if I’m not careful.

So I was casting about for something to do, and I remember something I heard once (OK, many times) at Inman Connect.

It was that as agents, we need to measure our business.

Now the people in my firm who are real estate naturals — those born salesmen who take an hour of downtime as a wonderful excuse to bleach their teeth — don’t need metrics. They love meeting people, and they meet lots of them and get lots of leads, and how often they get leads and what percentage they close doesn’t really matter, because they close enough. If they measure anything it’s income, and that’s fine.

But what about the rest of us, those of us who enjoy real estate careers, but still find them "work" and not "play"? It truly makes sense for us to be smart about our businesses, because then we can work a little less and play Scrabulous a little more.

So I took it upon myself as a June project to write down what I did all day.

I’ll report back at the end of June, but here at the beginning I just want to point out the measurement effect: I’m already working harder and smarter. A few months ago I went to a nutritionist, who asked me to write down everything I ate. Though I ain’t never giving up cookies, the embarrassment factor made me skip a chocolate bar or two.

Similarly, I do an awful lot of nothing during the day, but when I try to measure that nothing, I do a little less of it because I’m kind of embarrassed. So for my first week, I started an Excel spreadsheet with categories: "email," "gym," "SoHo sale," "Brian," and "futzing around office" are examples. And darned if I’m not going to the gym just a little more because that category looks so sad blank! And if I’m not making an attempt to work a little with my client Brian every day, so I can put a quarter-hour in that box instead of sticking it in the embarrassing "futzing around office."

So far, the measuring has had two other effects, both positive. The first is that I have a box for every client, and my wanting to put something in each box each day is making me have short daily contacts. Now people who are a natural to this business do this automatically, because they truly want to know if their clients bought new shoes or had office fights, but I can go for weeks without speaking to people and not worrying about it, so this is real behavior modification for me. I’d say, based on my not-statistically-significant five-day sampling, that so far clients like it.

Secondly, it allows me to stop working with a slightly lighter heart. Like most newbie agents, I don’t make enough money — I even wrote a few months ago about how the nice people at my bank had moved my business account to "inactive." My response to this is to work ALL the time. I just need to give 110 percent, right? But then I get tired, and cranky, and less productive, and frankly less fun to hang around with — in a game where being fun to hang around with is one of the objectives.

Being able to look at my spreadsheet and realize that I did an eight-hour day (even if that includes some "futzing in office") and got in some walking on top of that lets me say, OK, I can quit now, there will be more fun tomorrow. So I’m sleeping a little better because I’m worrying at night a little less. I’ll let you know in a month whether it’s made any difference.

Alison Rogers is a licensed salesperson and author of "Diary of a Real Estate Rookie."


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