No one knows the value of an hour better than the self-employed business owner. Time is our best friend. And our most hated enemy. We don’t have the luxury of going home at 5 p.m. and shutting down for the night.
Day planners, now on our smartphones, hold the contents of our brains and then some. I don’t know another set of professionals with a more colorful calendar — we Realtors must vigorously color-code our schedules into blocks of "my time" and "client time," among other things.
"Client time" refers to the minutes and hours we set aside to serve our clients face to face and work to directly accomplish their real estate goals — whether that be searching for a piece of property or staging a home for sale.
We operate according to their calendar for the most part, when it is most convenient for their schedules. We juggle the rest of our daily business into the nooks and crannies of remaining daylight.
"My time" includes the minutes in which we accomplish everything else in our lives: washing the car, brushing our teeth, putting on makeup (some of us). These minutes also include feeding our children, helping with homework, and then, maybe, watching a movie or reading a book (if we haven’t already fallen face-first into a dreamless sleep of exhaustion).
But then — "Ack!" — we sleep through the alarm one morning. And the whole elaborate pyramid of life falls apart.
Last Tuesday morning I found myself in that predicament. It was 7:30 a.m. when I awoke — a full hour and a half after my alarm began ringing too quietly to interrupt my deep slumber.
What a way to start the day! I had missed a great chunk of "my time" completely: The quiet solitude of a fairly clean kitchen, coffee brewing, a drying load of laundry spinning in the utility, the dishes washed and put away.
I’d also missed my check-in on the multiple listing service, email, and my coveted list-making time. At 8 a.m., instead of starting my morning with a plan, I was limping around the kitchen bleary-eyed with a crying baby on one hip, laptop in my right hand, oatmeal mush in the left.
The next 12 hours felt like a real-time "would you rather" game:
- Would you rather work out today or get the laundry done?
- Would you rather call that potential client or drive by that new listing?
- Would you rather stick to your diet or grab a Snickers at the gas station and be on time to that showing appointment?
Most of you just read those questions and answered them this way: I’ll run tonight when I’m done. Screw the laundry, I’ve got enough semiclean clothes to last the week. I gotta get going. I’ll call the potential client in the car on the way to the listing and I’ll grab some celery out of the fridge and do coffee drive-thru.
Bam! Take that!
That’s the typical self-employed Realtor: running all directions at once, damned sure she’s gonna get it all done.
I once hired a life coach and complained that I couldn’t even listen to a song on the radio without getting interrupted. One song, that’s all I’m asking for. Less than five minutes! Just one song: probably a loud classic rock tune turned all the way to volume 10. How hard could that be?
The answer: Get a different job. If the phone rings during the best solo of a Ted Nugent number, too bad. You gotta answer that phone!
Real estate is a demanding, time-consuming job. The complimentary takeaway? Only superheroes survive.
And now I’m going to end this article. It’s time for "my time."