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Avoiding burnout: 5 ways to stay at your peak

07 January 2020 Dan Argent
Dan Argent

High-performing real estate agents are the Formula 1 racers of Australia’s property industry. They operate at pace, change trajectory with precision and make important decisions on the fly.

Most also function with an instinctual accuracy that comes from experience and a seemingly endless regime of training.

But like supercharged machines, agents of this calibre must make time for maintenance, or risk a critical “crash and burn” scenario.

In my years at the helm of a successful agency, I’ve learnt it’s possible to be engaged, informed, available, aware and enthusiastic at an outwardly feverish level.

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The secret is knowing when to fire on all cylinders, and how to effectively cool the engine. 

Given we’re at the start of a new year, a traditional period of self-assessment and resolution, it seems the perfect time to share how I avoid burnout and remain at my peak.

Plan your year

To continue the analogy, Formula 1 is the fastest and most exhilarating racing there is, but drivers still need to pit stop several times during each event. The risk of not pulling over is an empty fuel tank, failing brakes or exploding tyres.

The same applies to your professional life.

Everyone’s ability to go at pace in manageable bursts may be different, but for me, I work best in four x 11 week sprints — a blueprint that allows six weeks of holidays every year.

My schedule sees one week off over Easter, one week in June at EOFY, one week before the spring rush and three weeks at Christmas.

By following this plan, I constantly have either a “just returned from a holiday” feeling or “about to go on leave” mindset.

I found it best to work these getaways in around school holidays and the traditionally slower selling periods in my market.

This annual approach avoids burnout and fuels enthusiasm for the long hours needed to be successful in real estate. 

Have an on/off switch

It can be tough to disconnect in the modern era where your mobile phone is now a mini-computer. Constant access to emails, texts, social media and alike means a few moments waiting for a coffee or during half-time at the footy suddenly become a work emergency that must be handled immediately.

My solution is simple: toughen up by turning off the phone at night and on Sundays so you can engage with your family and friends.

There is nothing so urgent that it can’t be handled on Monday or in the morning. Matters that genuinely need your immediate attention are extremely rare across a lifetime. When they do occur, the folk that need you will either be in your company or have other means of reaching you.

You must digitally detox and not be in constant connection via your device.

Get up and move… everyday

Exercise is the foundation of maintaining peak performance because your “machine” must be fit in order to run at max power.

The rise of the “corporate athlete” is an enormous benefit when it comes to productivity.

I know for certain improving my own fitness level has enabled me to work much harder, think clearer and engage better.

It might seem counterintuitive when you’re feeling tired to add exercise to your day, but I can testify that it actually gives you more energy, not less.

So, find one hour each day to be active — but this only works when combined with a minimum of seven hours sleep per night plus reading, meditating and additional healthy pursuits.

As an example, my days runs like this:

I have two daily alarms. There’s one at 9.30pm, which reminds me there’s 30 minutes to wrap up whatever I’m doing and get to bed.

The second alarm is at 5am, which means I’m getting a full seven hours of sleep each night.

From 5am to 6.30am, I meditate, work on my journal and read.

From 7am to 8am, I exercise.

After that, I get ready for the day and have my first meetings at 9am.

Sticking to this schedule means even if the rest of the day goes sideways, I’ve still had three hours of “me time” to help cope with whatever is thrown my way.

Delegate

The personality type of many successful agents is to be in full control of their operation and micro-manage to a point where they’re doing all the work themselves.

It can be a hard habit to break, but ultimately, taking on tasks solo will exhaust you to a point where you’re so caught up in the small stuff, it becomes impossible to handle the big things.

To make the most of your time, learn to let go in order to grow.

Delegate all non-critical tasks to others in your team so you can focus on what you’re best at — looking after buyers and sellers.

In my opinion, lead agents do not need to attend photoshoots or building inspections. They are not equipped to tidy up vendor’s gardens or dispose of their clutter. They do not have the time or need to tackle office admin.

Think about how you can most effectively use your time. For the rest, find someone else to take it on.

Know what’s important

Understand how to set your priorities or risk losing what’s important.

To explain, I believe success in your chosen field will see you devote 80 per cent of your time to work-related activity… but it can’t be the first 80 per cent.

The important stuff like family and friends are the reason why you work so hard — to provide yourself, and those you love, with the best possible life. Ignore them by wiping out that 20 per cent and spending all your time on work, and your “why” will disappear.

Here’s what I believe about the hierarchy of priorities.

We need to care for ourselves first, but not for selfish reasons. What I mean is we must do what’s needed for our own mental and physical health to ensure we’re fully present for those closest to us. By filling our own cup first, we have more to give those around us.

Next up, I think we need to prioritise our life partner above all others. Nobody likes to feel taken for granted in a relationship. This includes placing your partner’s needs above those of your children.

This might sound controversial to some, but ranking your kid’s requirements over and above your partner’s leads to relationship breakdowns and, frankly, that is punishing for children.

It’s healthier for kids to be in a strong, stable family as opposed to being the be-all and end-all priority for parents who’re struggling in their relationship.

So, make sure your important 20 per cent comes first and you’ll find the 80 per cent falls into place.

By Daniel Argent, UrbanX CEO

Avoiding burnout: 5 ways to stay at your peak
Dan Argent reb
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