In today’s world of breakthrough technology it’s easier than ever to stay connected. Laptops, Blackberries, and iPhone’s combined with social networks like Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter provide business professionals (especially real estate agents) with powerful tools to not only establish many new relationships but also to stay up to date with those relationships on a consistent basis.
Although these new methods of staying in touch may provide new opportunities for expanding our personal network, they also present many challenges when it comes to staying productive and focusing our energy into activities that really improve our business and our lives. For real estate agents, this is especially crucial because selling real estate is all about relationships.
What can agents do to manage, not only their relationships, but also their time, energy, and health? In this article, we are going to look at three ways that you can begin to manage your time, energy, and relationships in a way that keeps you and your clients most productive.
1. Focus on your biggest opportunities instead of getting caught up in busy work.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the “doing-ness” of day to day activities that we lose sight of what’s really important in our life. All the little things that need to be done cry out for our immediate attention and before we know it the whole day is gone. Sometimes we are left asking ourselves, “where did all the time go?” or “what did I accomplish today?”
The problem stems from a mistaken belief that if we are “doing” lots of stuff, that we are being “productive”. It turns out that how much we do is not necessarily important; it’s also what we do that counts. The specifics of this will be different for each agent, of course. You will have to figure this out based on your own approach to real estate sales, your expertise, and where you have the most success.
For example, you could spend two hours working on fancy business cards and letterhead, or you could call up some prospects that you met at the last open house. Which activity is more productive in the long run? Which one will benefit your business the most?
Usually our biggest opportunities lay in wait while we attend to menial day to day busy work. It’s not until we identify our biggest opportunities and make a focused effort to work on them, that we will make real progress in building our business.
So ask yourself, “What are my biggest opportunities?” See if you can list 5 activities that will lead to real business results.
2. Take care of yourself and your clients by setting clear boundaries
If you close your eyes and imagine the ideal “successful” agent, you will probably find yourself imagining a person who is not only busy, but also on their phone constantly.
A phone that rings often can be a wonderful thing for an agent (especially in this market). So it would make sense for an agent to make him or herself available as often as possible, right? Well, maybe.
We want to be by the phone when that important call comes in, (such as a call from a referral or a call to close a deal), yet we don’t want to be waking up at 2 am to answer calls from wrong numbers or even freaked out buyers (so they can freak us out too). Where do we draw the line when it comes to taking business calls versus unplugging and getting some rest and relaxation?
On the one hand, we want to be available to our clients and serve them as best we can, yet on the other hand we also have to take care of ourselves both physically and mentally. If we mistakenly believe that being a real estate agent means that we have to sacrifice everything (including our well-being) to serve our clients and get the listing, then our health will start to suffer. Then, consciously or unconsciously, we may begin to resent our clients, our work, or our life in general.
If we don’t keep our energy tank full by maintaining health self-care, then we can become sick and tired and unhappy. Guess what that does to our business? Yea, it’s not so good.
How can we expect to take care of our clients if we aren’t taking care of ourselves? The answer lies in finding the right balance of work and rest. This means setting clear boundaries when it comes to taking client calls and checking emails.
I can hear the questions already, “but real estate agents must always be available, it’s part of the job, otherwise they may miss out on all the deals!” This type of reasoning is usually coming out of an anxious part of ourself, the one that acts out of scarcity and need.
People like agents who are friendly, knowledgeable, and professional. If you set clear hours of when you are working and communicate them to your client, what you are communicating is your standards of integrity. They may not like it (especially if they go into an emotional frenzy and can’t get a hold of you) but at a deep level, they will respect you. And best of all, you will respect you.
By setting clear times when you are taking calls and checking emails, you establish boundaries and focus your energy. Without clear boundaries, our mind (and energy) becomes scattered and we soon feel like we are being pulled in every direction. Some people call it A.D.D. but frankly it’s just a lack of ability to focus and set boundaries.
Our body will usually tell us when we are done; we get very tired, can’t concentrate well, and become easily distracted. By becoming aware of when our body usually checks out of work, we can create a schedule of times of the day when we are available and when we are unavailable.
Of course, when deals are closing and things get down to the wire, you can make adjustments. The key is to service your clients as best you can while still taking care of yourself.
Ask yourself, “what boundaries do I need to set with my clients so that I can be healthy enough to best serve them?” Remember, you are the deal maker, and when you are in a vibrant state of mind with a ton of energy, good things happen!
3. Build recovery into your work routine
This one is related to the last tactic in that we have to stay conscious of our own energy level if we intend to perform with maximum effectiveness. They key with any real estate agent is to figure out “when am I going to stop working and recovery my energy?”
For most regular jobs, a person works Monday through Friday then gets the weekend off. For real estate agents, the weekend is where all the action happens! Yet, during the week is when all the paperwork and follow up calls happen. So it becomes very easy for agents to work 7 days a week without set days for them to rest. Combine this with constant phone calls, emails, and inconsistent commissions; it’s no wonder many agents live under constant stress.
If we are going full speed without any rest, then it’s only a matter of time before we burn out. This is why it’s crucial to set aside time to recover. This means to completely unplug from work and “do nothing” for a little while, at least.
Now the amount can vary depending on your level of business and your preference. For some, this may mean taking a month off in another country at the end of each year, for others it could be taking a weekend getaway after a big deal closes, or for others it could simply be a 20 minute power nap midway through the day.
The important thing is to build in this period of recover into our work schedule, one in which we completely disconnect from cell phones, email, and work altogether. We can read a book, meditate, do some yoga, whatever. The idea is that we have to recharge our battery. A good rule of thumb is to take 5 or 10 minutes rest for every hour of intensely focused work.
When we go too long without full periods of recovery, then our capacity to do work slowly and consistently diminishes. So while a certain work-related activity may take us 20 minutes, if we are overworked and low on energy, that same activity could take 50 minutes. Compound this effect over years and you get the idea.
By building in set periods of recovery, we return to our work with renewed vigor and clarity. We may have slightly less “work time”, but our capacity to work will be much greater and we will likely do even more work that we could have done otherwise.
Professional athletes are very familiar with this concept. They train hard and then they recover. Then, the next time their capacity to perform is even greater. In the real estate business it’s the same. If you are worried about losing leads during your recovery period, see if you can direct calls to a fellow agent while you rest and do the same for them.
Get creative, there is always a solution. It’s just a matter of making your energy and health a priority. So there you have it, three simple yet counter-intuitive secrets to becoming more productive in your real estate business.