Being a successful real estate agent means being productive. You want to accomplish things in the shortest time possible because you have major goals. You want to work smart, and you definitely don’t want to get bogged down in unproductive tasks.

This spring, Inman is obsessing over helping you to tune-up your listings business, with actionable insights, the best advice from top agents and hundreds of helpful stories from all over the world. Interested in sharing your advice and insights with us? Reach out to me at matthew@inman.com.

Don’t forget that we’ll also be focusing on how agents and brokerages can all move Faster, Better, Together this July at Inman Connect San Francisco. Not got your ticket yet? Buy it here, and remember that Select members get a $100 discount. Thinking of bringing your team? There are special onsite perks and discounts when you buy those tickets together too. Just contact us to find out more.

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Being a successful real estate agent means being productive. You want to accomplish things in the shortest time possible because you have major goals. You want to work smart, and you definitely don’t want to get bogged down in unproductive tasks.

Business professionals are always looking for productivity tips to enhance how they work and how they approach their business. Here are our top 15 recommendations.

1. Use to-do lists

Nothing beats to-do lists for organizing your time. One great method is to make a list of everything you need to do for the week. Then, break it down into daily tasks.

Cross off each task as you finish it. You’ll have a great sense of accomplishment as you do it! Don’t stress if you don’t get everything on a to-do list done. Just carry items over to the next day.

2. Utilize time-blocking

Time-blocking is a method of blocking out your week by day and task. It’s different from a to-do list in that it gives you an overall picture of the week and when you’re occupied with specifics.

For example, do you need to meet with clients? Block off 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays. Is email always answered from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.? Block that time off.

Blocking off times you’ll be engaged lets you know how much time you have in a day.

3. Set up specific times for emails, social media and phone calls

Few things eat up time like checking emails or social media, yet they are valuable ways of staying in touch with clients. It’s easy to rein in the time you spend.

Set up specific times in which you access them and the phone. It might be one hour in the morning or late afternoon or a half hour in both. Outside of those hours, never access any of it. Use the time for more productive tasks.

4. Use business intelligence to analyze data

You may be analyzing your data, such as return on investment in neighborhoods, yourself. But increasingly, people use sophisticated business intelligence to find data patterns that they otherwise might not be able to and in less time.

Business intelligence uses digital methods to comb data for patterns that can benefit you by increasing your sales or cutting costs.

5. Establish client expectations

Ah, you might be thinking, but what if clients email me? I check my email to see if clients have been in touch. Simple enough. Explain to your clients that you will always get back to them within 24 hours.

This works with your specific time to access emails, social media and the telephone. Use your designated hour, and it will always be within 24 hours.

6. Establish boundaries when you work at home

Many real estate agents work from a home office or at least spend part of the time doing business at home. It’s very important to establish work boundaries at home.

Plan what you need to do. If you’re going to be looking at listings, drafting brochure copy or reviewing site photos, do it. Do not be tempted to watch the television or review your daughter’s homework. Do other tasks when work is over.

Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

7. Delegate tasks

Once you’ve time-blocked and worked with a to-do list for a few weeks, review what you do in a given week. Can any of it be delegated? Could a virtual assistant, for example, determine good meeting times? Could your office assistant set up photo shoots?

Delegate tasks that don’t require your input or hands-on client service.

8. Avoid multitasking

At one point, multitasking was all the rage. Our multiple computer screens, especially, seemed to promote the idea that we could do several things at once: talk and develop a to-do list; scan listings and develop blog post copy.

Now, though, it’s become clear that it’s better to avoid multitasking. Chances are, if you try to do several things at once, you’ll miss key steps and quality in at least one.

9. Use your drive time well

Real estate agents spend a lot of time in the car. Car time can be used effectively to increase your productivity. Yes, tip no. 8 is avoiding multitasking — but driving a car can work well with limited other tasks.

Listen to audiobooks on how to sell more effectively. Dictate rough-draft ideas for marketing tools. Drive through a new neighborhood to get a feel for it. Do not, on the other hand, try to use the phone or text.

10. Establish a time limit for meetings

Meetings, whether they’re in-house or with clients, have an unfortunate tendency to drag on. It’s a good idea to limit your time. Let colleagues or clients know that you have something else scheduled after a half-hour.

If you find that clients need more time, follow up the next day. Be sure to leave flexible time in your schedule, though. If you absolutely can’t leave at your time limit, or if cutting it short would be a poor business decision, reschedule the following event.

11. Get into a groove

Once you’ve established a productive weekly schedule, stick to it. If meeting clients on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday is leaving good development time on Mondays and Fridays, for example, establish that as your weekly default template.

If working on emails and social media from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. works, do it. Your time will become more streamlined the more you’re in a steady groove.

Photo by Mpho Mojapelo on Unsplash

12. Use the two-minute rule

Many business people swear by a two-minute rule. If something would take less than two minutes but would pile up if left unattended, deal with it. Open the mail. Scan a contract for digital filing.

Be sure not to spend half an hour doing “two-minute” tasks. The rule of thumb is to clear up what might sit undone forever but takes a very small amount of time.

13. Do major tasks first

Make people find it helpful to schedule major tasks first in the day. It accomplishes two productivity-enhancing elements.

First, you get the major tasks of the day done. Second, the sense of accomplishment at getting it done puts wind in your sails for the rest of the day.

14. Remember to take breaks

If you’re a hard-charging person, or very busy, it may be difficult to remember to take breaks. But breaks — a short walk, lunch or even a short bike ride — renew your concentration.

Short breaks spaced throughout the day make you more productive, not less. Plan and time-block your breaks just as you would any other activity.

15. Get enough sleep

Wait, you may be thinking — isn’t sleep the opposite of productivity? No. People who routinely don’t get enough sleep are significantly less productive. They may also be inattentive, distracted easily and even doze off during the day.

You need to make sure you get enough sleep to feel rested and refreshed. If you don’t, your overall productivity could suffer.

These productivity tips can help you get more done. They enable you to work smart. Implementing a few at a time should boost your business and give you a great sense of accomplishment.

Kayla Matthews covers smart technology and future trends for websites like VentureBeat, Curbed and Motherboard. You can read more posts by Kayla on her personal tech blog: Productivity Bytes.

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