HANDLING THE LANDMINES OF WASTED TIMEDirk Zeller
There are numerous challenges and landmines to the time management equation. Entrepreneurial small businesses face a large number of these challenges. As Real Estate Agents, we are owners of entrepreneurial small businesses. This business type tends to put us in the front lines, with multiple job descriptions at once, trying to drive strategic objectives in sales, marketing, management, leadership, customer service, accounting, administration, and research and development all at the same time. The probability for landmines that can blow up and wreck your day, hour, or even half hour of production is lurking around every phone call e-mail, fax, cell phone call, and meeting. My goal is to give you tools, strategies, and implementation techniques to help you achieve the highest return on investment for your time.
1 – Handling the constant stream of interruptions:
We are in a profession that we delight in the inbound sales inquiry calls. We all live for the potential Seller or Buyer who calls us to ask about a property or, better yet, about our services. The problem for most Agents is there are never enough of those and a lot more problem calls. We can compound those interruptions through the use of cell phones, pagers, and access to our home phone as well.
I believe that we are the most interrupted profession on the face of the planet. We have the highest probability of distraction, as well, especially when we add e-mail to the distraction list. We must be able to limit the access we provide people by restricting inbound calls significantly. We want those calls, and we need to be able to respond to them quickly. One tactic is to use your cell phone for the lead generation calls or what I call “money” calls. We might have to re-educate our clients whom we have listed, sold, or are securing a home for to call the office line. It would help you reduce the number of cell phone calls. The more we can direct only “money” calls to the cell phone, the more we are able to secure the other calls out for later. Certainly, another technique is to simply turn off your cell phone and only operate through the voice mail for much of the day.
Create a short list. That’s a list of people your Assistant or Receptionist knows to put through to you right away when they call. You want about half a dozen people on your short list. For me, it’s my wife, my attorney, and my father. All other people must leave a message or book an appointment for as soon as I am free. There is rarely anything in real estate sales that can’t wait an hour.
2 – Procrastination – the silent killer:
Procrastination is caused by thinking that we have more time to complete a task than we really do. It is also a lack of urgency on our part. There is a difference between procrastination and prioritization. Prioritization is the skill of a Champion. A Champion puts off the things that don’t matter as much and uses their time to do high-value activities. Procrastination is putting off everything that is challenging and difficult. The challenging and difficult items are usually the most important and valuable items. Procrastination is caused by lack of clarity in goals and lack of connecting the goals to important activities that link with the goals. The key question: Is what I am doing right now bringing me closer to or further away from the goals I have set?
Procrastination can be caused by having too many workdays available. In your mind, you can think, “I can always do that later”. It allows you to do the activities a few days later, even though today would be best. We can really fake ourselves out by not having set workdays. The old adage that work expands into the time allotted is true.
3 – Unclear vision, objectives, and priorities:
Procrastination can happen because of a lack of clarity in your vision and what you do. Why are you in real estate sales? What are your objectives for the year in gross commission income? What is the mix of your business in listing side versus Buyer controlled side? How many listings do you need to take yearly, quarterly, monthly, and weekly to reach your goals? How many Buyer sales do you need to make in the same time frame? What’s your conversion ratio of leads? How many leads do you need to generate and appointments do you need to make to earn your income goal? Every Agent who wants to achieve the Champion level must have clear objectives and a clear vision of what needs to happen next to accomplish their objectives.
The skill of prioritization is missing for most Agents. How you execute your priorities has a dramatic effect on your income and results. When we evaluate what our objectives and priorities are, too many Agents view them synonymously. Objectives are really the results you are aiming for in your business. Priorities are the individual steps in the right order to accomplish the objective.
Champion Rule: We have too much to do and not enough time.
Most people who are Champion Performers are running at 100% or more all the time, and there is more stuff added to their plate daily. As we get better and more successful, our opportunities and responsibilities increase.
I am blessed with more opportunities and responsibilities today than when I sold real estate. I have more now than when I founded Real Estate Champions over fifteen years ago, and fifteen years from now, there will be even more. With greater success comes greater responsibility and greater opportunities. You will also experience greater problems. As you expand your business, the problems and challenges will increase in number and difficulty. The good news is with larger problems comes larger money. We are problem solvers in the real estate business. When markets shift, problems increase, and your value as an Agent increases too. The increased responsibilities and opportunities are the circle of life from the time we were born. Wesley, my son, has more responsibilities and opportunities than his younger sister, Annabelle.
Time management myth: More successful people have fewer distractions. Because of their production and the opportunities they are constantly creating, they experience more interruptions, distractions, and challenges on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. They are, however, better at handling these demands than others. They have the ability to solve the challenges much faster. They let the negative things that happen to all of us affect them mentally for shorter periods of time. If you are a Champion Agent, like many of my clients who earn $500 an hour or more (that means each fifteen-minute block of time is worth $125), you can’t let too many of those fifteen-minute blocks slip away during the day. The control of those blocks of fifteen minutes and the attitude control is one of the main reasons they are worth $500 an hour.
Champion Rule: We will never get caught up.
For Champion Agents, there is no hope of ever getting caught up. Why would you want to? It means you are not getting new opportunities, challenges, clients, prospects to sell to, etc. It means your business has stagnated or receded. A Champion Performer will go home each day of their work life with something un-done or not completed. We could stay in the office past midnight each day, and we still would not have everything completed. We must get over the “clean up and get everything done” syndrome. The question isn’t, did we get everything done; it’s did we get the most important things done. The ability to have a system to select and execute the high-value tasks enables us to align our priorities with our objectives.