Get Control Of Your Time With Planning and Tracking

Chances are you often feel as if you don’t have enough time. It’s a common lament among real estate agents.  Small wonder, look at all you do! Tracking your time for at least a week or two is probably the quickest way to begin to realize how much you do and to gain a sense of control over your time. Try this two step approach.

Start with your calendar

First, on whatever calendar system you’re using, block out recurring times for regularly scheduled events like sales meetings and MLS tours. Don’t forget to include important family items that are scheduled in advance. Many calendar programs allow you to choose colors for different categories. This can a helpful way to signal to yourself visually when you’re booked. Mine looks like this, and I do find the colors helpful. The first time you do this plan on spending up to an hour. If you’re using a new-to-you calendar program, do it the first few times in 20 or 30 minute time-frames to avoid total frustration learning new software. It really helps if your calendar can also be used on your smartphone becasue you can update it in the field and see where you’re supposed to be next. Plan on updating your calendar in two ways:
  1. As appointments and other events are scheduled, plug them in right away.
  2. Once a week, take half an hour to make sure your calendar is as accurate as you can make it.

Track your time

Once you’ve got a calendar that works reasonably well, track your time for a week or two. You can do this on a 3 x 5 card if you want, or other paper system. A program like Toggl can make tracking your time easy. It’s free, and it works on your desktop and on both iPhones and Android cell phones as well as on tablet computers. Plus it’s free! Although Toggl does let you set up categories and projects, don’t get too caught up in that for now. The goal is to see how you actually use your workday and how that actual use compares to your plan. I suggest you track everything for a week or two. Start with leaving for the office or your first appointment, and track everything until stop working for the day. Even if you only spend two minutes talking with a friend, if it happens during your work day, record it. The first time real estate agents do this they are often surprised to see how they are actually spending their time. Often they discover time leaks – blocks of time spent doing something that doesn’t truly support their business. Agents are often also surprised to discover just how much time they spend at their business. Examples of time leaks include things like:
  • Time web surfing that isn’t work related.
  • Coffee reading the newspaper.
  • A gossip session with a fellow agent.
  • Driving around neighborhoods that you know isn’t productive.
In fact, you know what’s productive and what’s not. Everything on this list can be work related. The goal isn’t to force you to a rigid schedule – those rarely work for long. By tracking your time closely you can see what’s actually happening to your day. By being aware of how you actually spend your days you can begin to make choices that will serve you better. You might, for example, want to shorten the time you spend with colleagues just chatting. Or you may see that you truly aren’t spending enough time weekly working to land listings. Some agents actually find that tracking time works so well they keep it as a daily habit. Other choose to track for a few days when they start feeling like they don’t have enough time. Remember, there really are only 24 hours in any day. It’s up to you how you spend them. Do you know how you really spend your workdays? Let’s talk about it in comments.
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