The first step in killing it at real estate is handling what needs to get done effectively. Here are three tips to help you build your perfect to-do list. 

Have you ever woken up and felt a sense of overwhelming dread because you remembered that seemingly unending list of tasks you must finish before you can lay your head back on the pillow that night. Yeah, me too. And I’d be willing to bet that almost every other agent has as well.

Real estate agents have daily, weekly and monthly lists that are constantly being added to. The job is about more than finding and filling listings. It’s a business-oriented — and people-oriented — career. You are effectively facilitating a financial investment for people that will impact the rest of their lives, and that’s a lot of responsibility to take on.

Time and tasks can be managed more efficiently by using a tailored to-do list for both business and personal activities. But of course, just writing it all down isn’t what’s going to save you any headaches.

The secret is in learning to be flexible, prioritizing and gaining a more realistic sense of self-expectation that can give you a more stress-free life.

The first step in killing it in real estate is handling what needs to get done effectively. Here are three tips to help you build your perfect to-do list.

1. Be flexible

Here is the first step: build flexibility into your everyday life. What does that mean? Essentially, not everything you want to get done is going to get done. And that’s OK.

Your to-do list should be created with this fact in mind. If you happen to get it all done on a particular day, fantastic. If not, you can always move some tasks to other days.

You may also want to evaluate whether those tasks you are putting off are really necessary or can be scrapped altogether. It is amazing how many thing we think are important that, in reality, aren’t necessary at all.

Another thing you can do to make sure it all gets done is time-block, at strategy that is used by some of the most productive top agents.

But rather than just set aside time for each particular task, also block out some time to finish things you weren’t able to get to the day before. That way, you’ve already built in some time for catching up if you get behind.

2. Prioritize what really needs to get done

No to-do list should just contain a list of items that you check off — you need order in a chaotic world. Different items will have a different level of priority depending on how critical it is to complete them in a timely manner. Failure to prioritize is one of the most common ways we sabotage our own goals.

Try creating several sections. Think about dividing your tasks like this:

  • One section should be absolute must-do tasks, such as callbacks on inquiries, finishing paperwork, sending out contracts and other time-sensitive activities; focus on the income-producing tasks first.
  • Second-tier tasks could be working on social media outreach, networking, marketing and other growth opportunities, basically your outreach. These tasks shouldn’t be part of your focus until you’ve finished the first-tier tasks.
  • Agents should also have an area for personal tasks that are important for them to complete for their own well-being. That could include something as simple as “Take 10 minutes to breathe and be mindful” or “Have dinner with the family.” Remember, these personal tasks should not be ignored. You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else.
  • Finally, have an area for tasks that could be put off, outsourced or even eliminated. If you don’t finish them, it won’t be the end of the world. But if you have some time, these tasks can be tackled.

Some agents also like to prioritize tasks based on the length of time they take, whether they can be combined with other items on the list and whether they really enjoy (or loathe) them. It’s all up to your personal preference and what keeps you best organized.

3. Manage daily task expectations

What might be the hardest part of this process to pull off is learning to manage your own expectations for your work. Real estate agents are independent, self-starting go-getters who are used to jumping into the deep end. Real estate is a high-pressure industry, so agents tend to hold themselves to a high standard.

Sometimes it can be easy to forget that we are only human.

As humans, we need a realistic outlook on what we can accomplish. Stop holding yourself to such unforgiving measures of success, and you will find managing time and tasks to be a less stressful prospect.

The perfect to-do list is all in your head

As a real estate agent, your perfect to-do list begins and ends with your attitude about your responsibilities and the important aspects of your life. With an adjustment to your mindset, you can completely change how you run your business.

When you’ve tamed your to-do list, you’ll be able to finish the day knowing that you’ll sleep easy when your head hits that pillow.

Jackson Cooper is a writer and real estate enthusiast at Jensen and Company. Follow Jensen & Company on Twitter or Facebook.

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