Sound familiar? It’s the one consistent theme running through many of the conversations I have with my coaching clients. Stuff gets in the way; Life is what happens between the plans you make, and all those other trite sayings that people use as an excuse for not doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done.
Time management is one of the most discussed, taught and coached on topics in sales training and yet it’s also probably the most ignored and abused aspect of a salesperson’s business.
So, let me ask you this. How do you manage your day? Do you block specific times in your daily schedule to take care of specific tasks and then stick to those time blocks? Do you block specific times in your daily schedule to take care of specific tasks and then ignore those time blocks? Or do you just simply wing it as the day goes on? Unfortunately, the vast majority of REALTORS® fall into the last two categories and spend a lot of time doing things that are less than productive instead of taking care of developing their business.
And the thing about it is, it’s really not all that hard to get organised, set up and follow a schedule. Even for those of us for whom organisation is a challenge (all you oranges, you know who you are). It takes some work initially, as does establishing any habit, but once it’s ingrained, it’s as easy as…falling down.
The first step in building a solid time management habit is to recognize that you need it; that your life is running you instead of you running your life and your business. Once you’ve reached that decision and realized that by making the change things can and will become less hectic and put you back in control, you’ll find that taking the next step is natural.
The next step is to simply buy a yearly calendar; a big one, that you can hang on your wall in your office at work and at home. With that accomplished (and that, believe it or not, is a BIG step!), your next task will be to fill in when you’re going to take your holidays. You need to predict when you want to take holidays, even if the dates need to be changed at a later date. Notice I said changed, not eliminated! You need to take holidays. Everyone needs time to get away from the business and decompress. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of everyone else.
Step number three is to fill in the day or days per week that you won’t be working. In this business it’s oh, so easy to work seven days a week if you allow it. However, I’ve found that most people can only run that way for a couple of weeks and then they start to become fatigued, which leads to bad decision making, poor client service and occasionally even more poor communication skills.
Step four is to put together your weekly schedule. And this starts with planning your daily activities. Set aside some time to exercise, meditate, or whatever you need to do on a daily basis to look after your own health needs.
Next, decide what time you’re going to start work and when your last appointment will finish and plan on designing the day’s schedule around those times.
Once you’ve completed that, schedule time for lunch and dinner. You need to eat and you don’t want to end up eating a rushed lunch at some fast food restaurant on a regular basis, or having dinner late at night and then falling into bed. Not healthy prospects! Look after yourself first.
Lead Generation must be your first priority in real estate, since without leads, you have no business. It only makes sense then that the first appointments to be scheduled must be for your prospecting time. Lead generation is another topic for another day, but these blocks of time need to be 2 to 3 hours each day, 5 days per week, first thing in the morning. We’ll discuss this in my next post.
Traditionally, lead generation is done in the mornings, when your energy levels are at their greatest and lead follow up is handled in the early afternoon, at which time your energy is usually somewhat reduced. Schedule your lead follow up slots after lunch.
One of the most important things you have to offer clients is your knowledge. The best way to be able to speak intelligently to sellers about any new listings which occur in the community is to preview them. In order to be able to do that you need to schedule at least one appointment slot, on a weekly basis, to preview new listings in your market.
One of the best methods of prospecting for new sellers and buyers is holding Open Houses. In order to run effective Open Houses, you’ll need to schedule four to five hours for the Open House one day per weekend at least every second weekend.
Part of your responsibility to your clients will be to furnish them with information that will help them make informed choices. To this end, you’ll need to spend some time performing research and therefore will need to schedule slots for research twice weekly.
Training and self-development never ends. Take advantage of opportunities to learn and grow on a continual basis. Take some time and find courses that will help you grow and schedule them into your weekly schedule.
After scheduling all the other times, you can then schedule appointment slots within the remaining time, giving yourself at least half an hour to get from one appointment to the next.
Now comes step five. Post a copy of your schedule in your office, in different places at home and set it up on your mobile device and computer with reminders for each of the time blocks.
Now, follow the schedule consistently. If you don’t have appointments booked, use the time constructively to work on building your business, such as prospecting, training or role playing. Do NOT use it to sit around and socialize with the other salespeople in your office. Remember, if they’re sitting around and socializing, they’re probably not busy and they’re not the people from whom you’ll learn good habits.
So, that’s how to set up your schedule. However, a schedule is only as good as the commitment you have to following it. In my next post we’ll talk about the mindset and behaviours that you’ll need to take full advantage of the schedule you build.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that if you find that there’s just not enough time for everything, you really need to take step number one and make the decision to change, now.