Time Off? Dare to Dream

 The Secret to Balance

The most common misconception about real estate agents is that what you do is a piece of cake. You set your own work schedule, have plenty of free time and still rake in gobs of money.

In fact, this misconception is what leads many right to the doorstep of the real estate industry.

Sadly, the truth is that there is no “flexible schedule,” especially for the new real estate agent. It’s even rare for many established agents. And, according to a Market Leader study, established agents make up a group known as “the least happy” in the industry.

Sure, as time goes on the schedule may ease – typically to a 10- to 12-hour workday, 7 days a week.

But, it’s the agent who needs to learn flexibility, not the schedule.

Once you get this, and understand how to prioritize, delegate and, most importantly, let go of the small stuff, life in real estate land will be so much better.

As we move into the holidays, clients trail off and your schedule will lighten up. Many agents take advantage of the lull to plan next year’s business. It’s also a good time to plan on — and commit to — balancing the two competing halves of your life.

“Delegation” isn’t a dirty word

According to a rather dated statistic from NAR, 14 percent of agents use an assistant. The reason for this low number is that many agents tend to tie the timing of the hiring to a certain, albeit elusive, income target. “I’ll hire an assistant when I’m making $75,000 a year,” or something similar.

Or, perhaps by transaction count: “Once you hit 40-50 transactions per year, your production will be capped at that level unless you hire an assistant or someone else to help you manage your business,” claims Bernice Ross at Inman.com.

She does have a point, though – your production will be capped.

The truth is, there’s no chicken or egg thing going on here — most agents’ incomes increase when they hire an assistant.

This makes sense when you understand that your assistant relieves you of the mundane tasks that currently take you away from money-making endeavors. Answering the phones, checking email and making copies of transaction paperwork don’t make you money and they suck time.

The same holds true for writing your own blog posts (hire a writer), telephone prospecting and follow-up calls (hire a licensed assistant), posting to social media (hire a social media manager) and marketing (hire a marketing assistant).

It’s trite, but oh-so-true: It takes money to make money. Free yourself from the mundane and you’ll free up time that will help you be more productive and maybe even take a day off.

Consider taking on a partner

Ok, so you’re not ready to fork over the bucks it takes to hire help. Have you thought about partnering with another agent? If not, consider this:

“You can take vacations – real vacations – ones where you do NO work. It means that you can take days off. It means that if you’re sick you don’t have to answer the phone. It means, in short, a higher quality of life,” says Kelle Sparta, real estate trainer and coach, on her blog at ActiveRain.

There’s a lot to consider when you’re thinking about taking on a partner or forming a team.

Pick up a copy of “The Millionaire Real Estate Agent,” by Gary Keller for some tips. You’ll also find information on structuring teams and partnerships at Realtor.org.

Your tools and systems should be working for you, not the other way around

Sure, choosing the right tools and systems for your business is a chore in itself, but because technology can help set you free, it’s time well spent.

Automating the more important aspects of your business, such as following up with leads and keeping in touch with past and present clients, will play a big role in helping you find that balance between your work life and your private life.

Two of the most popular and effective ways to automate contact with your clients and potential clients are,

    1. Automated Just Listed/Just Sold Postcards – This done-for-you service integrates with your local MLS then generates postcards for your listings when they are active and sold.
    2. Market Dominator –  A 12 x 15 poster size, 2-sided marketing piece that is delivered to your designated exclusive carrier route on a monthly basis, establishing you as the go-to professional resource able to achieve the results they’re after.

As we move into the slower pace of the season, take the time to populate your CRM, set up that automated campaign to get those marketing materials flowing to the right people and ensure that your website is doing the heavy lead-capture lifting.

Schedule “me” time

“You have to make a little time for the things that ignite your joy,” Laura Stack, author and productivity expert in Denver tells WebMD.

And, what better way to “make a little time” than by scheduling it?

Keep a log of your daily activities over the next week or two, paying close attention to those days on which nothing much is going on. Come on – we know you have one of those. By moving the activities of that day to another, or even spreading them out among six days, you can conceivably, actually, blessedly take a day off every week.

Make a commitment to remain unplugged on that day. That means taking no business calls (oh, yes, it will be painful) and no internet. In fact, get out of the house and leave the phone at home.

Guess what? The real estate world will continue to turn without your help for 24 hours.

If a full 24 hours to yourself is unthinkable right now, consider grabbing a smaller block of “me” time. Start with a half hour – get out and walk, workout, watch TV, do the laundry – anything but real estate.

Then, over the course of the next few weeks, expand that block of time by 15 minutes or half an hour.

One Detroit agent we spoke with weaned herself off the 12-hour day by leaving work 30 minutes earlier for a week. The next week she left an hour early and gradually built it up to where she eventually took an entire day off each week.

“Instead of just letting life happen, people who achieve work-life balance make deliberate choices about what they want from life and how they want to spend their time,” claims Harvey Deutschendorf at fastcompany.com.

Commit to achieving a successful balance between your work life and your personal life and put yourself in the “happy agent” camp.

Related: 4 Steps To Goal Setting Success

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Lisa Gray
Lisa is an accomplished marketer with years of expertise in direct response marketing, digital marketing, data analytics and business development working with both B2C and B2B.