As a full-time real estate agent, it’s often hard to draw a line between your personal and professional life — let alone keep the two in balance. The truth is, the housing market never sleeps, and the same can be true for a successful real estate agent.
Whether you’ve just made it home in time to cook dinner for your kids, or are trying to get some shut-eye at 10 p.m., your clients could be just logging in to peruse listings, take virtual tours and request showings.
With so much on your plate, it’s easy for your “flexible” work schedule to crowd out your personal life. But if you don’t make room for other activities, find a happy medium and take intentional control of your schedule, this business can eat you up and spit you out.
Here are some suggestions for achieving that work-life balance during the chaos. After all, success isn’t gratifying if you don’t have time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Intentionally manage your time
Every day, real estate agents have several tasks to get through, but that doesn’t mean the day has to be hectic. Some of that stress is self-inflicted. Brushing aside paperwork or waiting to respond to emails will leave you swamped by the end of the day.
Listen to author Mark Twain and take a frog-eating approach to your day. Twain famously said that if the first thing you do in the morning is eat a live frog, you can go through the rest of the day knowing the worst is behind you. Your frog is your most daunting task, and you should do it first thing in the morning. Make to-do lists the night before so that you are ready to “eat frogs” in the morning.
There are going to be times when your workload is overwhelming. You can manage this workload if you learn to space out your schedule and designate time blocks. Figure out your most important revenue-producing activities, and then time-block them in your calendar as “sacred appointments.” For example, if one of your business growth strategies is to prospect your past client base for business, put a recurring weekly appointment in your calendar to do just that.
Once you start intentionally scheduling what’s most imperative in your business life, you should go ahead and do the same for your personal life. Schedule your workouts, date nights, family time and vacations in a similar fashion.
Have office hours — and stick to them
The nature of real estate makes it almost impossible to set a firm schedule in advance. When you rely solely on commissions, it’s difficult to turn down an email about a house showing or a CMA request whenever you receive one. This makes it crucial to set firm boundaries around designated work and time-off hours.
Establish hours during which you’re available to answer phone calls and emails, and communicate this to clients right off the bat. At the same time, work with your clients to learn about their communication preferences. If you can convey preferences from the get-go, your buyers will be satisfied, and you can keep your home and work life separated — to some extent.
Finally, be sure to set aside your smartphone and pause work entirely when it’s time to pay attention to after-work activities. Better yet, turn your phone off. Make a pledge to yourself that you won’t sneak away to answer a call, email or text, or worse, leave for a “quick” showing.
Set aside personal days
Taking an intentional vacation has a profound impact on a person’s mental health. Most people have a better perspective and are more motivated to achieve their goals after a break, even if it’s just a 24-hour recharge. Look at your calendar, and time-block breaks throughout the entire year.
Keep track of your time over the next few weeks to determine which day is the slowest. Consider taking that day off every week to connect with friends, family and loved ones — or even just do activities and hobbies you love. Set those days aside in advance so nothing gets in the way.
Evaluate times in your schedule that permit longer vacations, maybe during winter or fall when the housing market tends to slow down. Try to take a break every six weeks to two months, even if it’s just a long weekend. Set expectations with your clients, and inform them that you’ll be out for a certain period with limited access to your phone and email.
If possible, you can also offer up a team member who can keep an eye on urgent items and contact you if needed. Once again, if you establish expectations about how often you’ll be in contact and at what times, clients won’t feel abandoned and will most definitely understand.
Hire an assistant
Over the course of the average workday, agents complete a wide variety of tasks. Many of these could (and likely should) be outsourced. Instead of trying to do everything on your own, get some help with your administerial work. That way, you can focus on the work activities that have the most impact on your success. This type of delegation will also free up your well-deserved personal time.
All busy agents should look to employ an assistant of sorts. If a full-time personal assistant is not in your budget, start by leveraging a virtual assistant. This can help you save hours of doing routine, support and back-office tasks, so you’ll have more time in your schedule to work with clients and more importantly, spend quality time with family and friends.
A real estate professional’s lifestyle can certainly give you a lot of flexibility, but only if you take intentional control of your schedule and employ well-thought-out strategies to do so. The best path to success is balance!