As I stated last post, time management is the single biggest challenge for real estate agents.  So, here are some tips for managing your time:

Go to bed same time every night on work nights – To manage your time, you need to establish a routine.  Most people who have a 9-5 type job know when they’re supposed to get up for work.  And, if they’re parents with kids, then they know what time they have to get up to get the kids off to school.  So, if you need a certain amount of sleep to be on your game the next day, start your “next” day by going to bed at a reasonable hour, and get into a routine of going to bed around the same time each night.

Get up the same time every morning – based on what I spoke about above, this would seem obvious.  However, you’d be surprised at the number of real estate agents who stay out/up late and sleep until they wake up.  Then they get into the office whenever.  To be able to manage your time at all, you need to be consistent with the start of your day.

Develop a morning routine – Hopefully, you’re starting to get the idea that time management is about creating habits and routines.  Most people have a morning routine already, it just may not serve them or be very powerful.  Waking up, showering, getting dressed, grabbing your coffee and running out the door isn’t a very powerful routine.  There are many things you can start your day with that will make your mindset unstoppable.  There’s exercise, reading/writing goals and affirmations, practicing scripts, objection handlers and presentations just to name a few.

Be at least 5 minutes early to everything – Have you ever had a flat tire?  Ever been in an unexpected traffic jam?  Ever forgot something at home, and had to turn around?  Have you ever got into your car and realized you’re below the “E” and desperately need gas in order to make it to where you’re going?  Did you ever try to run out the door to be somewhere and get a phone call that you needed to deal with?

The point is, no matter how much we plan and schedule, things happen that get in the way.  If we go around just giving ourselves the exact amount of time needed to get somewhere, we’re going to get burned pretty regularly.

And here’s the big problem:  we’ll have a nice excuse as to why we were late, when really we just didn’t plan ahead.  And, whatever we say (barring a real emergency) will be only an excuse in the mind of the person we tell it to.  Yeah, that’s kind of the unwritten, inside joke on ourselves that we forget about.  We think we’re fooling people with our good excuse about getting behind a school bus, but the seller who was expecting you 15 minutes ago is REALLY thinking, you should have left earlier, school buses always run around 3pm, and we’re really just not that important to you, are we?

Time orient your tasks – To-do lists can be very helpful.  The problem lies in letting the tasks dictate your schedule, rather than having your schedule dictate the time devoted to the tasks.  You need to set a time limit on your tasks, and be intentional about keeping to those times.  Human beings will always take the time allotted to complete tasks.  So, if you have 5 things to do today that might take you 90 minutes, you’ll find that you actually took most, if not all, of the day to get them done.

Phone calls come in, your thoughts drift, you see an email you want to respond to…all sorts of things come into play during your day that will distract you and take you off your list.

Conversely, if you give yourself time limits on either each task, or the list of tasks, you’ll find you get them done quicker.

Be time intentional when starting anything – Just generally be aware of the time you spend doing things.  They say time flies when you’re having fun.  Well, computers must be really fun because people spend hours upon hours on them and don’t seem to realize how much time has gone by.

Rather than just going through your day seeing what takes you where, look to be intentional about the time you spend doing anything.

Time your conversations – Another time killer is the phone call.  You pick up the phone and it’s your seller calling to check in.  Next thing you know it’s 45 minutes later and you’re agreeing to three open houses in the next month.

Set a time for your conversations so they don’t get away from you.  It’s very easy to set up in the beginning.  All you do is let whoever you’re speaking to know that you have a certain amount of time to talk.

Create a schedule – This is one of the hardest things to do for independent contractors (i.e. real estate agents), yet the most powerful thing you could ever do for your business (and your life).  If you take the above tips, you already have the makings of a schedule.  Then fill in your daily activities and you’re off and running.

Ask people to keep you on schedule – This is big because on your own you simply will not stay on your schedule.  The best way to make sure keep any commitment is to make sure you’re being held accountable to that commitment.  For example, if you secretly go on a diet, then no one will know that you’re cheating when you eat those cookies.  That doesn’t help you at all.

Have your spouse, family, colleagues, broker/manager, coach, friends all keep you on your schedule (this is really difficult because most of us don’t want to be on a schedule, and certainly don’t want anyone telling us to stay on our schedule.  Or, worse yet don’t want our bosses and spouses finding out we really don’t do that much all day!).

And, help people keep on your schedule.  Post your schedule in your home and work environments for all to see.  And tell people the times you have available to do things.  If it’s a client, you give them a choice of two available times rather than letting them tell you when they can meet.  If it’s a co-worker, tell them you can’t talk to them right now, but you’ll be available at 10:30.

And change your voice mail to reflect your schedule.  Tell people when you will return calls.  People love that and will respect that, as long as you actually do return the calls when you say you will.

You time – Don’t forget to schedule some time for yourself.  You will quickly burn out in this business if you’re “on” 24/7.  Get a massage, take a nature walk, go on a date (with your spouse if you’re married)…do fun things.  Heck, the easiest thing to do is take a legitimate lunch hour instead of eating lunch from the bag on the way back from the drive-thru.

Prepare the day or night before – Get your things in order before you have to attend to them.  Pick your clothes the night before.  Have the majority of the numbers you’re going to call, or doors you’re going to knock prepared the day before.  That way, you don’t waste valuable time when you come in and lose the momentum your morning routine will have created for you.  Nothing takes you off your game worse than coming in all fired up and realizing you have to get on the computer and find numbers to call or doors to knock.  If you go for expired’s and FSBO’s, consider a service like Leadsenders, TheRedX or Landvoice.  For something like $50 a month, they will pull all of the expired’s and FSBO’s of the day for you and provide you with numbers first thing in the morning.

Remember, the main thing is if you’re not on your schedule you’re on someone else’s, and that person doesn’t care about what’s going on in your life and business.