Can busy real estate agents maintain a work-life balance?

Letting work interfere with your personal life is bad for business

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As an agent, you’re pretty much expected to be on call 24/7. On the weekends, when everyone else prioritizes social gatherings, you’re glued to your phone. How are you expected to have a social life when even your free time is filled with scheduling new business?

Prioritizing your life without compromising your work begins with communication, organization and self-control.

Plan in advance, and don’t be shy.

Your friends and family who work 9-to-5 desk jobs might not understand the pressure of constantly being on the clock. It’s your job to explain the lack of spontaneity in the life of a real estate agent.

Ask for ample notice for even light events like dinner parties and movie nights. Warn others that your time fills up fast, and you may not always be readily available. They certainly won’t enjoy these restrictions, but you won’t be setting high expectations or breaking plans at the last minute. Be careful with your words and avoid comparisons, as it may seem as though you’re bragging about your job being harder than most.

To better organize and allocate work and play time, use a calendar app on your smartphone or tablet to keep all appointments clear. No more stressing over accidentally booking a client the day of your best friend’s birthday party — dedicated calendar-keeping provides peace of mind. Be sure to store your e-planner in the cloud, or use a Web-based tool like Google Calendar for multidevice access.

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Turn off your screens.

You never know when the perfect lead is going to contact you, and you no doubt feel the pressure of being accessible at all times. Even when you do get away, your brain might still be in work mode.

Think of how frustrating it is to see someone check his or her phone midconversation. You might have a good excuse for your distraction (unless you’re Instagramming or scanning Twitter for the latest celeb gossip), but staring down at your screen while conversing, no matter the reason, is rude. And really, what’s the point of being there if you’re not enjoying yourself and the company of others?

If you plan something and are expected to give your attention, lock your screens and make eye contact. Better yet, buy a prepaid phone to bring in case of emergency that isn’t listed on your agent profile.

To get a good night’s rest, keep electronics off your nightstand. Although it’s unrealistic to be offline for extended periods of time, no one expects you to respond to emails at midnight. Wait until morning when you have a fresh perspective and all the tools to help your lead find the perfect home.

Reserve “me” time.

Personal reflection is essential, especially for agents who regularly interact with others and don’t get much time to unwind alone. Devote two or three days per month to read a book, lie in the sun, try a new activity or simply sleep. Without downtime, you risk burnout.

Heck, book a vacation — but be smart about your plans. When are you likely to miss more opportunities while jet setting? Summer is a peak season for renters and buyers, so avoid extensive travel May through August. Besides, hotels and flights are notoriously overpriced in the summer. You’ll increase your client base and benefit from discounted travel during the off-season.

And since you’re not on a typical work schedule, use flexible travel date search options on sites like Kayak to lock in the best fares. Typically, flying midweek is the cheapest option.

Essentially, you’re the one in control of your work-life balance. Unless you’re motivated to prioritize yourself, no app or communication technique is going to help.

Email Jennifer Riner.