Controlling your day - as much as you can

We're in a customer-centric business, which means by definition we don't get to control our day - our customers do.

  • When the phone rings, you answer it. And then you follow up with whatever tasks the conversation required.
  • When an offer or an addendum hits your inbox, you give it priority - reviewing, adding notes, writing a counter offer, and distributing it to your clients for review and signature.
  • When you get a call from someone saying there isn't a key in your listing's lockbox, you take your extra key to get a copy made, and then drive to your listing to put a key back into the lockbox.

It doesn't really matter what you had planned on doing, our business requires a high level of flexibility to respond to our clients' needs.

With that in mind, it's important to consider how we approach the day, and how we spend our pre-interrupted time.

Facebook and Social Media - is neither good or bad; it's simply a tool available to us. And just like any other tool, how it's used and in what situations can be the difference between success and failure.

If part of your business plan is to use social media to stay in touch with your sphere of influence, then you need to spend some time online. However, that time needs to be spent trying to socialize among your entire sphere. Commenting on the same few people's posts over and over again, and then getting sucked into watching cat videos isn't bringing you closer to your goal.

What's worse is if you planned on reaching out to a large number of people, but then you got click-happy and distracted. You could easily lose 45 minutes before you know it, and once the phone rings and you have to be flexible, you've lost your chance to be productive.

Internet news sites - Sports, Entertainment, Politics, Local News. There isn't anything wrong with reading websites which you find interesting, and with staying on top of current events. You can even make a business plan out of sharing articles with certain people from your sphere of influence - whomever the article reminds you of.

However, it's very easy to click from one story to the next without even realizing it. These websites have all been optimized to keep you on the site as long as possible, with catchy headlines and photos in the sidebar, and links to "other articles you might like" at the end of each page. Click on an article, skim through a few photos, watch a video, read another article... BAM! - the phone rings, and you realize you've just wasted an hour.

3 Steps to Scheduling Success

Look, we know we aren't going to get an 8-hour block of time to work on something really big today. Heck, we probably won't even get an uninterrupted hour! But that doesn't mean we can't control our day as much as possible. Here are 3 ideas you can use:

1.) Know what your goal is for the day.

Whether your goal is to reach out to 20 people you haven't interacted with lately on Facebook, or to schedule a lunch with an old friend, or to set up meetings with 5 potential referral sources, you won't have a reference point to focus on if you don't know what success looks like.

2.) Be attentive and "in the moment."

Websites have been optimized and re-optimized to distract you from your task. People in the office want to talk about last night's ballgame or awards show. Even a quick look around your home office finds a ceiling fan that needs dusting and a light bulb that should be replaced.

We know this, and yet we let ourselves get sucked into the void. STOP! Don't click that link. Don't get out of your chair. Do the work you set out to do first, and then reward yourself with some leisure time later. Start paying attention to your actions and what you're doing, and be quick to change directions if you get off track.

3.) Adjust your goals.

If you completed your agenda for the day by mid-morning, and the phone isn't ringing very much, try to double up on your goals - make hay while the sun is shining, so to speak, because tomorrow might be double-busy on the phone. Spending a little bit of leisure time after a successful day is a good reward, but you can't honestly expect to achieve real success if you find yourself endlessly web surfing for extended periods of time.

If you have a crazy customer service day, where you spend the whole day taking care of clients and putting out fires - this might be a day when you reduce your goals. (Caveat - if this seems to happen frequently but you still aren't making the money you'd like to make, you might want to analyze your workflow to see how you can be more proactive.)

If your goal for today was to make some face to face calls, but your clients' needs are taking you in the other direction, think about the things you can do from your phone or laptop - even if they're goals from another day. Then you can circle back to your face to face calls again tomorrow.

Flexibility requires Flexibility

Flexibility requires being flexible, but it also requires dedication and vigilance.

Flexibility is one of the great benefits of the real estate business, but it has also been the cause of many Realtors' downfall.

Set your goals, pay attention to what you're doing, and control your day as best as you can, and you'll be a step ahead of the crowd on your way towards long-term success.

- Chris Butterworth