As a real estate broker and professional life coach, I have a unique opportunity to observe how brokers run their businesses, both successfully and unsuccessfully. Over time I have noticed one common issue that threatens to hold back even the most accomplished brokers: time management.
Managing one’s time wisely sounds like a monumental task. But as a coach, I know that what’s behind mastering this important skill is ultimately setting strong personal boundaries. Many of us struggle to create a balance between being there for clients and others without burning ourselves out or feeling pulled in a thousand directions when the market is busy. But sometimes it takes an outsider such as myself to help agents and brokers recognize holes in their personal boundaries between themselves and others.
Here are four things you can you do right now to make sure your time-management plan is ready for the busy times ahead.
- Understand how personal boundaries create a structure to stay on track. When we plan our schedule according to our priorities, it’s easy to move seamlessly from one task to another. Learn what time of day you are most productive and plan more difficult or less enjoyable tasks during those hours. If you have a difficult call to make, don’t wait until you’ve missed lunch to make it.
- Master the art of saying “no.” Many of us struggle with this due to conditioning we inherited from our caregivers in childhood. But that doesn’t mean you can’t overcome it. Recognize when you feel compelled to agree to something you don’t want to do or know is not your job to do. You know that feeling. At first it may be enough to pause and catch yourself before saying yes. At more emotionally charged times you may need to ask for some time to think before committing. Be kind to yourself as you work on this new skill, the old habit may take some time and effort to break.
- Put yourself on your to-do list. I cannot stress this enough, especially for women. Somehow we manage to take responsibility for so many things and yet still fail to care for ourselves with the same commitment. For independent contractors this task to set a solid foundation of self-care is even more important because you are your business. What happens to your sales if something happens to you?
- Set expectations with clients and others up front. Most people appreciate being told what to expect, especially in real estate. Your clients need you to help them manage a hugely emotional experience and the better you are at managing their expectations, the smoother your transactions will be. Your response times don’t have to be the same as others, you just have to leave the appropriate amount of space for you to create your business according to your needs while still serving clients and others in a professional manner.
Of course, these four tasks are only the beginning: Self-discovery is a long process of peeling back the layers of our beliefs and habits. Even the most successful brokers struggle with some of these issues, but it’s vital to keep moving forward and expanding our awareness of how to balance work and personal lives.
Christine Carr is a residential consultant with Dream Town, Chicago