In the fast-paced real estate environment with so many moving pieces, it’s critical for agents to manage their time wisely. Be the Marie Kondo of time management: Declutter your schedule, and keep only the activities that bring you closer to your goals

Whether you’re a rookie agent, a rising team leader or an established veteran broker, we can all benefit from sharpening our skills. Follow our “Back to Basics” series to learn fundamental strategies, tactics, philosophies and more from real estate pros across the industry.

Time is a precious commodity. Once it is gone, we can’t get it back. So we should be as careful when spending time on completing tasks as we are spending money.

Like being on a diet, or on a budget, one needs discipline to make every minute and dollar count. In the fast-paced real estate environment with so many moving pieces, it’s very important for agents to manage their time wisely.  

This allows an agent to provide top level service to their clients. All it takes is a well-thought-out plan and some discipline.

Here’s are the basics of time management — an especially helpful skill if you’re a new agent. 

1. Create a daily plan

Have a business strategy — know your goals both short and long term. Every day, write down how you are using your time. It’s helpful to sit down with your sales director to help you create this timeframe with objectives and strategies. Once you have this mapped out, you can plan each day.  

Some people like to do this at night while others prefer to do it early in the morning as they are starting their day. It doesn’t matter when you do this as long as it gets done each day.

List out a few important tasks that you would like to accomplish that day, and cross them off as you get each one done. This enables you to track your progress as well as feel a sense of accomplishment.

2. Get organized   

Create an organized system that works for you. This will save you lots of time and energy.

Agents with work with many buyers and sellers. It helps to have a system for this as well. Personally, I create a new folder on my desktop and in my email account for each client I work with, and then I create subfolders.

For example, when I get a new listing, I create a new folder with the address, then subfolders with building info, showings, offers, deal info, etc.,  in my email account. This way I can easily pull up the information immediately without weeding through many emails.

Some agents love Excel, and others lean hard on their contact relationship management (CRM). Figure out what works best for you, create a system, and be consistent with it.

3. Plan out your calendar 

Know how you spend your time by keeping a calendar. Whatever means you choose, you must be diligent on a daily basis to account for your time.

Once again, with modern technology, it is easy to keep your appointments on your phone, or you can use an old-fashioned paper calendar. The most important thing is that you write down all your appointments as well as tasks that need to be done that day.

According to Business Insider, Bill Gates is so detailed that his calendar is broken up into five-minute intervals.

Many agents like to plan out their day Bill Gates style through a little method called time-blocking. Boiled down, time-blocking is taking chunks of your day and devoting them to specific activities. For example, lead generation. Some agents will block out two hours in the morning — every day — to cold call, door-knock or whatever activity generates leads.

It doesn’t matter when you do what, do what works for you. However, a major mistake many agents make is allowing themselves to get distracted by activities that don’t generate dollars. To help ensure that you’re getting those things that contribute to your paycheck done first, read this article.

Another component of planning is making sure you include your personal (mental, physical, spiritual health) days and family time for the year on your calendar before you plan anything else. Taking care of yourself makes you a better agent.

4. Give each task your full focus 

Do one thing at a time, this way you can focus all your attention to the matter at hand. You will complete each task quicker and more effectively as you will not have a break in your chain of thought.  

Also, throughout the day we are barraged with emails; try to refrain from checking them when you are in the midst of a project. If someone needs you that badly, they will call you.

Don’t allow yourself to get distracted by the time-wasters that can overrun the job.

5. Take time to relax

Block off some time in your calendar to relax. This is different for everyone, so take the time to try new things because you never know how you will react to something new unless you try it.

When you are more relaxed, your mind wanders. This is when you can be most creative.

6. Learn something new every day

Set aside time to read or listen to current events, pop culture and industry trends.  

As the financial markets affect real estate, an agent should be up to date on important financial data such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average, interest rates and overall trends in important indexes.   

You do not need to know the minutia. Just know enough to talk about it and how it impacts the real estate market. Also, when you’re filling out your yearly calendar, be sure to include any certifications or continuing education you’d like to pursue. 

If you implement the above steps, you can better more effectively hold yourself accountable, and track the progress you’re making towards your goals.

Better organization leads to more calm and clarity — and hopefully better insights into your business.

By having a plan and accounting for your time, you can maximize each hour, better focus on the matter at hand, optimize your workflow and reach for your personal best each and every day.

Marilyn Blume is a licensed real estate salesperson with Warburg Realty in New York. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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