One of the most challenging aspects of being an independent real estate professional is being in control of your own time.
For example, do you ever feel like you:
- Don’t know what to do first thing in the morning?
- Are overwhelmed and buried in paperwork?
- Spend too much time waiting for the phone to ring?
- Don’t have any leads?
There are so many tasks and responsibilities to balance and juggle that if we don’t have some sort of direction, it can feel like we’re not really in control of our time at all.
Cal Newport said:
“If you treat your attention with respect, then when it comes time to work you can concentrate on one thing at a time with intensity. And intensity can be traded for time.”
So how do we gain this intensity and leverage it for more effective time? It’s called time blocking. I know you’ve heard of it, but today I’m going to show you how to really make use of it so that your calendar is never empty – but filled with more fun and family time.
I have eight tips that will make it easy for you to get time blocking, right away. Let’s dive in…
Tip #1. Conduct a Full Schedule Audit at the End of Every Quarter
The MOST IMPORTANT part of time blocking is blocking off time to time block… I know that sounds confusing – which came first, the chicken or the egg? It doesn’t matter. Just DO IT!
This is a big dedication where you are going to trade two hours of your time for the equivalent of possibly a hundred hours back.
Go over how you spent your time last month and take note of:
- Where you saw the best ROI for your time
- How long most tasks generally take you
- Where your time could be better spent
- What time of day you perform best at certain tasks
But most of all, you need to set your biggest goal for the upcoming quarter. If you have a goal for the year (or something even greater than that) break it down into steps and decide what you could realistically yet ambitiously accomplish in the next three months. Then decide what it would take on a weekly basis to get there.
What new systems or routines do you need to implement? Now look at the things that have been wasting your time and think about how you could accomplish them more efficiently. Maybe you could block them against other, similar tasks? Or here’s a thought… Maybe you could DELEGATE them?
And last, make sure you schedule time every Sunday to update your calendar for that week.
Tip #2. Decide When You are Not Working
Now comes the fun part… Get with your family, friends, coach, or mastermind group to figure out:
- Doctors or other appointments
- Time for spending with loved ones
After all that, let’s step down to the daily level and ask what time you will stop working each day. The point of time blocking is to get more done and be in control, that way you can ultimately work less. Decide what time you flip off the work switch “off” and dedicate yourself to personal commitments or relaxation.
You want to have a specific color dedicated to wind-down time and a separate one for free time. The idea is that no part of your calendar is left blank. But don’t go crazy here… When it comes to scheduling out your leisure time, don’t be too rigid or detailed, as studies show this could actually be detrimental to your ability to relax.
Tip #3. Start and End Your Day the Same Powerful Ways
The way you begin your day sets the tone for everything that will be accomplished. And the way you end your day sets the tone for how you start the next one.
These are the best times for taking what I call your MEDS. These are:
Put together a morning routine that works for you that you’ll program yourself to do automatically as soon as you wake up, before anything else. You might include:
- Taking a run or going to the gym
- Gratitude journaling
- Saying affirmations
- Connecting spiritually
We already established that you’re going to have a stop-work time, but you need to nightly routine as well to ensure you’re getting enough sleep to stay focused the next day. Some good options here are:
- Visualization in bed
- Light stretching before pajamas
- Chamomile tea and a book
Tip #4. Mornings are for Creating Opportunities
Your morning routine is for your health and wellbeing, but here I’m talking about business opportunities. Consider putting together a second morning routine which starts as soon as you leave the house. You should include things such as:
- Listening to a podcast or audiobook on the way to work
- Studying the MLS
- Reading Keeping Current Matters or another real estate news source
- Taking an hour of power to set appointments
- Sending out your CMA a day
- Posting to social media
What is most important here is that you decide what you are going to do and then don’t break any appointments with yourself.
But also… Schedule the MOST important work that you have to do for the mornings before lunch. By “work,” I mean the things you do that don’t rely on anyone other than yourself. This leads directly to…
Tip #5. Afternoons are for Appointments / Have a Contingency Plan
This isn’t just about segmenting your day for the sake of doing it. Appointments are something that you can’t always control. Sometimes they fall through, get rescheduled, or run too long.
Time blocking may be about fitting more productivity into your day, but if you over-schedule yourself, it may be setting you up for disaster. Keep the structure rigid during the first half of the day but leave a little extra space during the second. You don’t know what kinds of phone calls or life events could come up.
Always leave yourself time to account for:
- Calls from new leads
- Meetings running overtime
- Anything that may be happening in your life
And because we’re all about knowing what to do in any situation, have a contingency plan for appointments that do get cancelled. What will you do with that time?
Tip #6. Schedule Time to Work ON the Business
This is different from working IN your business – the daily work you have to do to keep this running. I’m talking about expansion, systems optimization, figuring out where you are and how you get to where you want to be.
Every week, schedule time for:
- Learning (events, books, etc…)
- Goal setting and planning
- Speaking with your team or recruiting
Tip #7. Color Code Everything
Color coding isn’t just about making your calendar pretty, although that is an important aspect of it. Your schedule NEEDS to be visually attractive, because it’s something you’re going to look at all the time, and this is easier when it’s a piece of art you can be proud of.
Take the time to choose colors you like for specific tasks. One person I know actually spent several hours tinkering with shades of pastel colors until she got the palette exactly right. You could start your day with bright warm colors and move down into cooler tones as the day begins to wind down, or just do whatever you want.
Color coding will also help you to clearly see the separation between tasks, because a plain white or red calendar can all look the same from a distance.
Here’s a good example of how to color code categories:
- Morning routine or taking care of your health (blue)
- Family time (pink)
- Working IN the business (light green)
- Working ON the business (dark green)
- Sleeping or free time (grey)
Tip #8. Set Up an Accountability System
I might be a professional coach who spends his days holding agents accountable, but it doesn’t mean that I’m exempt from accountability.
Even though I’m the CEO of my company, I’ve empowered my Executive Assistant to keep me in line and on track (and if you’ve ever met Ruby, you know she’s more than up to that task).
If you don’t currently have someone to hold you to your schedule, consider:
- Empower your assistant to keep you in check
- Forge an accountability partnership where you call each other every morning and night to review what you plan to do, what you ended up doing, what you didn’t, and how you could improve tomorrow
- Tell your kids you’ll give them $50 every time you don’t complete all your time blocked responsibilities
- Or yes… hire a coach
Take Control of Your Life
I know that this all sounds like a lot. Do you really want to spend the time to lock down every little aspect of your day, cram in as much as you can, and then have to fear your assistant getting on your case?
When time blocking, we are forced to think in terms of hours and days, but for right now, pull the focus back. Look at the month, the year, the decade.
This isn’t just your “time,” this is your life. The way that you spend it matters. Goals are just empty dreams without the systems to make them a reality. It’s been said that you don’t even need to have goals if you have good habits, because success will be inevitable.
So go to your calendar and pick a time to start scheduling. Good luck.