Time is money

We all fall victim to poor time management to one degree or another, but with a little structure you’ll find that your productivity and profitability can be greatly increased, writes Alex Whitlock.

Without a firm grip on your time management you can easily find that your estate agency leaks valuable minutes and hours every day. The old adage ‘time is money’ certainly rings true for sales professionals, and none more so than real estate agents.

One of the biggest challenges being your own boss is managing your own time. Creating structure around a business that is prone to interruption can be challenging, and so all too often agents can find themselves letting the day take its natural course, dealing with ad-hoc tasks as they arise.

For some, this may indeed suit their lifestyle, but for a great many others poor time management can be a considerable frustration when trying to build a business.

While productivity does not directly translate to profitability, they are closely linked. Agents that use their time more effectively will without doubt see an increase in their bottom line – particularly if allocation is made every day for sales activities and customer service.

So what can agents do to use their time more effectively, and how can better time management help?

Spot the leaks
Identify exactly where time is being wasted on a daily basis. The best way to do this is to map exactly what you do every day by recoding your activities. That includes personal emails, chatting with friends and running errands as well as recording your actual business activities. You may be shocked to see exactly how much time trickles away each day.Set your goals

Now you have a clear idea of how your day is spent, set some time management goals. This could be minimising personal calls, or reducing non-business time spent on the web. But rather than cutting out downtime, look at allocation breaks throughout the day – and sticking to them.

Have a plan
With your time wasting activities now in check, focus on organising your day. Different real estate agents will run to different timeframes so you’ll need to set a plan that suits your needs. Try and organise different activities into different parts of the day while putting some ad-hoc time aside as a buffer to deal with urgent matters.

Of particular importance is an allocation of time for business generating activities every day. This should include current clients as well as focusing on generating new listing. Make this part of your daily structure and I guarantee you’ll see your business grow.

Set in stone
To ensure your planning doesn’t go to seed, make your plan a reality by writing it down. You’ll find it so much easier to stick to the structure you’ve created if you are reminded of where you need to be throughout the day. This could include a word or excel document on your desk top, a page in your diary or even a day planner that’s up on your wall.

Prioritise
Even the soundest time management plan will fall apart if you don’t have the discipline to prioritise as the day progresses. Inbound calls can easily throw you off your stride so it’s essential that you identify when a matter is urgent or not. Some matters simply have to be dealt with immediately, but more often than not they can be allocated to a different time segment that day – or even later that week.

If you allow non-urgent and unimportant issues to grip your day, your core business activities will suffer. The result will be that important tasks are overlooked or that you end up working more and more hours each day to make up for lost time.

Smarter and harder
Sound time management will give you options. That could be to work fewer, but more effective hours, each day or to significantly increase your productivity and grow your business.

But remember, no matter how organised you are, there are still only 24 hours in the day. The more effectively you use the time that’s at your disposal, the more successful you’ll be in your business goals.

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