Yeah, I get it. We can all do a better job at managing how we spend our time. So I’m going to help manage yours by skipping a long intro paragraph and getting right into the list of 13 easy and actionable time management hacks!
1. Put a Dollar Value on Your Time
This can be tricky, especially in early years, before you know what your commissions are over an extended period. But it’s an essential part of knowing what tasks you should take on yourself, what tasks you can delegate to assistants and staff, and to what tasks and events you should just say “No!”
2. Declutter Your Computer
When most people think of clutter, they think of their desk and their home. But computers can get cluttered too – especially ones that serve both business and personal purposes. Try these measures to speed up your computer and turn it back into a tool, rather than an obstacle.
- Defrag. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
- Delete useless programs. If you haven’t used an application in a year, you don’t need it. Delete it.
- Clean up your desktop. Put ONLY essential files on it.
- For more steps to clean up your computer, Windows/PC users can click here And Mac aficionados here.
3. Know Your Peak Times
Everyone has certain times of day when they do their best and most productive work. Some people are early morning people. Some people are evening people. Neither is better than the other. Understand what you are – and organize your day to handle your most important tasks when you’re most alert.
4. Train Your Clients
You cannot do your best work if you are constantly returning emails and phone calls for purposes other than showing and selling houses. Tell clients that you set aside weekdays after five to return calls and emails, or mornings before nine – whatever works for you. This is a key element of managing client expectations. You can always make an exception for emergencies, but you need breathing space to do your job. A real estate agent who can always return a client call within one minute is probably not very busy selling homes!
5. Utilize Your Contact Management System
This is a must. If you’ve invested in a top-of-the-line CRM system, such as Market Leader’s, make the most out of it. Use it for everything you can. You will find efficiencies you didn’t know you had. Trying to switch back and forth between CRM systems, pipeline listings and spreadsheets, on top of a written appointment book, will sap half your day before you get going, if you aren’t careful.
6. Buy a Slow Cooker and Lots of Tupperware
A slow cooker lets you cook delicious meals in large quantities with little effort. Tupperware lets you not have to worry about cooking for days. That frees up 30 minutes to an hour each night, once you’ve done your base cooking. Set aside Sunday nights or Monday mornings to cook. Throw the ingredients into the slow cooker, and get it going while you make calls, do computer work in your home office, and set up your week.
While you’re at it, maximize use of labor-saving devices such as washers, dryers and dishwashers. Sitting down to make some calls? Have them going while you work or while you’re cooking. This way, you’re multitasking!
7. Eliminate Problem Shoppers and Clients
You don’t have to be rude. Just focus your time on the 20 percent of deals and clients that are most productive.
You don’t need to have a full-time assistant to benefit from delegation. There are a number of businesses that let you purchase just a few hours of an assistant’s time – or you can pool resources with other agents. Services like vGofer and Zirtual allow you to hire for as much time as you need, based on your budget. What tasks can you delegate?
- Direct mail
- Inputting contacts into a database
- Email management
- Book keeping and expense tracking (but consider apps likeExpensify, as well)
- Presentation prep
- Travel research
- Holiday cards and Thank You notes
- Event planning
None of these things require the assistant to have a real estate license. Just be cognizant of the kinds of things an unlicensed assistant can and can’t do.
9. Hire a Housekeeper
You should spend your time selling houses and finding new listings to sell. Every minute you spend in the house on boring, routine stuff that anyone can do and you don’t even enjoy is a waste.
10. Don’t Mess With Email Before Noon
Use Trulia One to get leads pushed to your phone. You can respond to those. Otherwise, let it go. If it can’t wait until after lunch, they should have called you!
11. Stop Trying to Multitask Everything
Almost nobody can multitask well. Focus on the most important task on your list, finish it, and move on.
12. Leverage Time Management Technology
One idea: Try the MyHours app for iPhone or Andoid. It syncs with the Google and Outlook calendars you may already be using.
13. Take Mental Breaks
The Pomodoro technique is a way to intersperse intense mental focus with much needed occasional breaks. Just as a world-class sprinter needs bits of rest between sprints, anyone who uses his or her mind to work also needs little breaks. Failure to take them means the mind will be less focused for the next task.