Time management skills is one of the three cornerstones to a Realtors success (the two others are system execution and database management). The trick is balancing the broad spectrum of responsibilities. Delving into this post, embracing the concepts, and committing to a strategy is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself as a real estate professional. If you are looking for a career with perpetual production and high level performance, you are in the right place.
The 5 Activities In The Life of a Realtor
Lead Generation – These are the ‘green’ activities. These are the activities that lead you to appointments, which of course is what leads you to income. Cold calling, sphere meetings, door knocking, working an open house, delivering marketing materials all constitute lead generation.
Lead Follow Up – This is the follow up required to convert the leads you have generated. Emailing, phone calls, text messages, and handwritten notes are all things that would fall under the umbrella of Lead Follow Up. Updating your database with notes about those efforts and planning for the next point of contact is part of Lead Follow Up. This is also considered a ‘green’ part of your day.
Appointments – Anytime you are on a listing appointment, showing a buyer property, or meeting with someone that can lead you to future business … this falls into Appointments, and is certainly a ‘green’ activity. There should be a goal for the number of appointments you need to go on to achieve your goal. If you need help with defining that number, come see me.
Client Care – Of course, if we are having success with our Lead Generation and conversions, we will most certainly want to do a stellar job of providing our clients with excellent care and service. This will include negotiating contracts and repair requests, putting together appraisal packages, meeting with inspectors, getting quotes, soothing fears, and putting out fires. These things are critical to running a practice, but for the purposes of time management strategies, consider these ‘yellow’ activities.
Projects – This is everything else. Creating flyers, working on your website, organizing your database, working on your accounting, updating profiles on various websites, designing new presentations, showing plans, calling CSS, time spent deciding on new technology opportunities … everything else. Some of these activities are ‘yellow’ activities – open house flyers or planning showing activities – because they have the ability to support other green activities. Some of them are ‘red’ activities – accounting and technology exploration – because they are too far removed from the dollar producing activities.
These five areas can create some challenges for an agent. It all needs to get done, so very often agents find themselves in reactive methods of working rather than proactive. It’s very common and easy to do, but reactive methods of managing your time are the guarantee to fluctuations in production.
This is what I have seen: An agent will get really committed to Lead Generation and Lead Follow Up. The are diligent, and committed and BOOM! Whattya know … that stuff works. Now we are busy, busy, busy. Now they are into the fun stuff … appointments, contracts, servicing the client … woohoo!
I ask about how the Lead Generation is coming. Lead Follow Up? “I’m going to get to that but you wouldn’t believe how crazy this week has been!”
And, you know what? I get it. I have been there more times than I can count. But, there is another side to this cycle. As you start to spy the closing date of your last transaction from this burst of business, that little voice begins to panic a little. Uh oh.
Back into those green activities we go, and the feast/famine cycle begins again.
As for projects, these are safe places to feel busy. No rejection here. Sadly, I’ve seen more than a feel agents bury themselves in projects with a ‘getting ready to-get ready to-get going’ attitude. This is not a place you want to get stuck.
Lesson I Learned When I Became A Coach
I have struggled in my own practice with all of these challenges. More and more education, a new website, Lead Generation avoidance, being too ‘busy’. And yet, I felt like I had a pretty decent handle on my time management.
Tom Ferry once told me during a coaching call, “You say that you ‘know’, but you don’t really ‘know’ unless your actions reflect that knowledge.” I was about to find out what that really meant when it came to time management, because when I agreed to become a coach for him, managing a schedule took on an entirely new meaning.
When I became a coach I had a small brokerage, and a thriving business. I was coaching Tuesday and Thursday mornings until 10:30 or 11:00.
Imagine you are one of those clients paying for those coaching sessions with me to the tune of $250 for 30 minutes. You come to the call ready, on time, and anxious to dive in. Can you imagine me saying, “Gosh, I hate to do this, but I have an escrow that is falling apart and I’ve got to handle that right now. Can I call you later?”As you can imagine, that’s a ‘no way’. I had to have integrity with my coaching clients, and my calendar.
The big lesson, there are very, very few things that can’t wait until 10:30 in the morning. I would send a quick email or text saying that I was in an appointment, but would call the moment I became available. Truly, no one questioned it, and the sky did not fall.
Can you imagine if even 3 days a week you committed to Lead Generation and Lead Follow Up between the hours of 8:30 and 10:30 or 11:00? Can you imagine if you had integrity with that appointment? It’s the real Game Changer.
One of the top agents in the entire country, a friend of mine, once told me one of the secrets to her success. She’s often invited to speak about her success, but what people are interested in is the structure of her team, her social media tricks, the success of her website.
But, her real secret, the unsexy thing that very few people want to talk about is that even to this day, at the peak of her industry success, five days a week she starts the morning on the phone and she doesn’t get off until she has a listing appointment.
Not everyone has to do that level of calling, but the important thing to know is that she always makes sure that she includes all the 5 areas of real estate activities in her success. Your prospecting appointment is as important as a listing appointment. Treat it that way.
Mindset: Rocks, Sand, and a Jar
So how do you begin to make the changes in your time management. It’s not easy and some weeks will go better than others. As long as the intention is there, small changes will often have big results. Start there.
There is an analogy for this that will help you get your mindset in the right place to take this on. Imagine I hand you a mason jar, a pile of rocks, and a bunch of sand with the instruction to fit it all into the mason jar. Where do you start?
Of course, the rocks are first. We know that the sand will find it’s way. But, if we start with the sand, forget those rocks. We’ll never get there.
Lead Generation, Lead Follow Up, and Appointments are the rocks. On Sunday night, schedule the rocks. Have integrity with your calendar. You wouldn’t cancel a listing appointment, so don’t cancel the equally important Lead Generation and Lead Follow Up.
Trust me when I tell you, you absolutely will take care of your clients, you will get to that negotiation. Those things are priorities and will get addressed.
Block an hour or two in your week to work ON the business. Get to those projects but with intention and without abandoning your practice.
Don’t expect perfection, expect improvement. Your business will be more consistent, more predictable and abundant.
Calendar Versus To Do List
I will confess, I do love a To Do List. I love the brain dump to create it, and the satisfaction that comes from marking things done. But, if you are someone that loves working from a To Do List, you also know of the painful process of certain activities that never seem to get done, but are carried over from one list to another.
For example, in 2012 I had to go through bank statements, checks, and painful accounting to get my taxes done. ‘Taxes’ rode my To Do List for 3 months and I often would think, maybe this weekend I can ‘get to it’.
The problem is that ‘getting to it’ rarely happens. I finally recognized the flaw in my plan, and I changed the ‘To Do’ into an appointment in my calendar. I broke it down from the generic ‘Taxes’ to the more specific ‘Itemize January and February bank statements’. With that strategy, I had them complete and ready for my accountant in two weeks.
To Do Lists are flawed in that the easy and most pressing things we’ll do. The things that are more labor intensive and often that stuff that really moves the needle, linger in the realm of ‘I’ll get to it’.
If you think of the Rocks/Jar analogy, think of how differently you think of Lead Generation as a generic ‘To Do’ item on your list, versus an appointment (Rock) in your calendar to make 10 sphere of influence phone calls. Very different, and the appointment is one you are far more likely to complete.
There’s an excellent article online at Forbes by Kevin Kruse diving into this subject. Check it out!
Tracking and Tools
I will preface this by saying, use what works, but given the importance of time management in this business, you have to marry yourself to some calendaring process.
If you want to live with a handwritten calendar, and you feel that it works best for you, effectiveness is what counts in the final analysis, not what tool you use.
That being said, Ken and I are big fans of Google Calendar. No matter what time of day it is, if I am at my computer, I have a browser tab open to my calendar. It has all my information – personal and professional – so that I never double book myself.
There are some good reasons to keep your calendar in an online environment.
1. Because it syncs across all devices, (phone, tablet, computers) you are never without it. You can’t lose it because it is safely stored in the cloud
2. Search-ability is a huge factor. If you wanted to be reminded when you did the listing presentation for Joe Smith, you can search your calendar for the entry.
3. Color coding is key when you are trying to keep an eye on how effective you are being with your time. No green activities in your week? That’s telling you something. No red and yellow can be equally problematic, because you aren’t working ON the business.
4. Easy to manage both a personal and professional calendar in one place if you color code it.
5. Share a calendar with your assistant, or share your personal calendar with your significant other.
6. Store details about your appointment right into the body of the appointment. I store confirmation numbers, reminders about specific people I need to follow up with during that time block, or the address that I’m going to.
7. Tracking. Interested in how many buyer or seller appointments you went on throughout the year? Easy to pull a history.
8. Recurring appointments are easy to schedule for weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or annually.
9. Get a reminder by text or email before your appointment. You designate the reminder.
10. It’s neat, and easy to make changes. No erasing or scratching out appointments that change. No struggling to cram everything into a small space. No struggles trying to decipher your own handwriting. #winning
Here is a quick tutorial for using Google Calendar.
As always, if you are finding that you are struggling with any facet of managing your time, and you’d like to talk with Ken or myself about strategies to improve you effectiveness, set up some time with us.
To your continued success!