By far, the toughest ball to juggle when running your own business is time—using it properly, freeing up more of it, and not wasting it. The solution to this challenge eludes many real estate agents.
In real estate, there are so many things we have to do. And we are burdened with the fact that there are no set hours. This is not Monday through Friday, nine-to-five kind of business. Our work schedule is fluid—which can be both a blessing and a curse.
While we don’t have to be at a desk every morning at 8:30, we do have to deal with the client who calls at 8:30 at night (just as we’re about to sit down to dinner) and says, “I need you to show me this home right now.”
When you run your own business you need to pay particular attention to time. Time is your friend, if you treat it right. If you don’t, time becomes your arch enemy. To help you, here is my #1 rule for time management:
Rule #1: There is NO SUCH THING as time management in real estate.
(Threw you for a loop there, didn’t I?)
Seriously, you can’t manage something that is unmanageable. However, what you can manage, instead of time, is tasks.
Tasks always come first. In order to get tasks done, you need to be organized. And when I say organized, I mean very organized. A big component of this is putting together your to-do list and checking things off as you go.
My personal solution to organizing my tasks is what I call “The Hour of Power”. This is one hour I set aside every day to work on my business. I could NOT run my business without my Hour of Power. It is what keeps me on track.
During this hour, I shut my phone off. I do not answer the door. I do not respond to emails or text messages. I am completely closed off from the world to ensure maximum focus on my tasks.
Most agents let the interruptions of the day stop them from working on the projects that they need to get done. It gets to the point where many begin to believe that they have a procrastination problem.
It’s not a procrastination problem as much as it is a task management problem.They don’t know how to say no to all the interruptions that come their way, or how to insulate themselves, for short periods of time, from those same interruptions.
To master your time in real estate, you must learn to master your tasks. This is as simple as setting aside an hour a day, five days a week, for your Hour of Power. This is your time—nobody else’s. Use it to get caught up, to complete projects, to plan, and to do everything you’ve been putting off.
Here are some rules to help make sure that your Hour of Power is yours and yours alone:
- Do NOT look at your email.
If you do, you’ll get sidetracked and before you know it, you’re responding to a ton of people and not getting your tasks done. I recommend that you not even open up your email during the Hour of Power.
- Only work on your project list and the things you haven’t finished.
Do not work on the client who called you last night at 10:00 thinking about selling their house. The Hour of Power is NOT client time. It is your time. Client-sensitive issues get completed during client hours—which is all the hours in the rest of the day. The Hour of Power, though, is inviolable. No clients allowed.
- No interruptions. No kids. No animals. No co-workers. Make sure you’re in a place where you won’t be interrupted. If your office has a lock, use it … and put a sign on the door that says, “I’m unavailable until ____. Thank you for respecting my time.”
- Do not deviate from this plan.
If you regularly practice your Hour of Power each day, you will see a difference in your business. In fact, I believe you’ll experience it in your first week of The Hour of Power. There is nothing like a clear focus on your tasks for 60 minutes a day to get you energized and excited about what you do.
- Keep track of what you accomplish during your Hour of Power.
You will eventually see that the projects you’re working on—the ones that seemed like they were monumental tasks—get done faster than you ever imagined. By keeping track of what you get done and checking off each item as it is completed, you will feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the week.Sometimes, tasks that appear large in our minds aren’t so large in real life once we put diligent focus into them—which is exactly what The Hour of Power allows us to do.
- Break huge projects into smaller pieces.
If you’re having a hard time with a project, cut it into smaller segments, one for each Hour of Power. This keeps the project from feeling overwhelming, and allows you to have small successes along the way as you complete each segment.
So, stop trying to manage time. It can’t be done. Instead, learn to manage your tasks. And remember – the best way to manage your tasks is to set aside one hour a day, every day, for your Hour of Power.
Start using this technique today.When you do, you’ll have a better handle on your projects andyour business will be re-energized with your enthusiasm for getting things done.
By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI