By Denise Lones M.I.R.M., CSP
It snarls. It has a will of its own. It feeds on your soul. It’s time management—the real estate agent’s worst enemy.
A beast indeed.
For years, I tried to conquer the beast. Battle after battle, I was determined to be the victor—to have a week that I actually knew what I was going to be doing at any given time.
Now, I look back and laugh. How naïve I was at the time!
As a real estate agent, time management is the one monster you cannot defeat. It is an unlimited resource of interruptions to your plan for the “perfect week”.
A few years ago, I went to one of those time management seminars—just to see what people were teaching. I quickly realized the entire purpose of the seminar was to sell products—leather-bound binders with shiny little multi-colored tabs, hour-by-hour progress reports, and 90-day “outlook” calendars. Not to mention software that’s supposed to “simplify” your life—ha! And people actually lined up to buy them!
But what absolutely blew me away was when the seminar leader said: “In order to master time, you just have to learn to say ‘No'”.
I laughed. Saying ‘No’ in real estate doesn’t work.
When a client calls to ask you to list their house right now, you can’t just say, “No, sorry, you weren’t on my schedule today so I can’t fit you in. ‘Bye.”
Real estate is a “yes” business. You are at the mercy of the unpredictable rhythm of business. There are times when the phone doesn’t ring for days. Then, there are times you can’t keep up with the calls.
I left that seminar with a certainty that I was right: The only way to defeat the time management monster is to let it win.
Because it isn’t time that we need to manage—no matter what all the sellers of fancy daily planners tell you.
So what’s a good real estate agent to do? Change one word. Instead of time management, make it task management. Tasks, not time.
Task management is actually something you can plan and control. Time isn’t.
When I do a business analysis on an agent’s business and I see that they’re not making the money they want to make, it’s ALWAYS because of poor (or no) task management.
So how do you manage tasks? Instead of budgeting time to work on your primary tasks, make it a MUST to get those tasks done once a month. Tasks like:
You must have a regular follow-up system. Your business will collapse without it, guaranteed. I coach agents to do follow-up once a month, preferably early in the month.
Buyer’s packages. Seller’s packages. Do you have them on hand? Are you constantly updating and improving them?
Yes, you must plan your vacation. Some agents ask me, “Denise, how in the world do I ever plan a vacation? Isn’t it impossible—especially if I’m not managing time?”
Actually, it’s very possible. But most agents don’t take vacation because they fear it may be too costly while they’re away. The solution is to find a fellow agent to watch your business—an agent who also wants to take vacation. The deal is you swap time. You cover theirs and they cover yours. It’s a win-win for both of you.
When you learn how to manage tasks instead of time, you will be amazed at how smoothly your business runs.