Make Better Use of Your Time

One of the things people love about being in real estate is that you set your own schedule. The freedom can be wonderful, but some people don't have the self-discipline to use their time effectively.

March 1, 2012

Use a timer. Do you have a big task you’re putting off—or a recurring one that you find boring or distasteful? Set a timer for 20 minutes and get started. Knowing that the work is time-limited makes it a lot easier to start, and you’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish in 20 minutes.

Break tasks down. Always look for ways to “divide and conquer” a big project. If you need to update your client database, you don’t have to do it all at once. Chip away at the project by updating a specific number of contacts per day or week. Need to get out a mailing? Work on 10 to 20 pieces at a time.

Make tasks part of an existing routine. Think of something you do regularly. Then couple a new activity with the existing one. For example, you know you need to spend time calling past buyers and sellers. You don’t love doing it, but you know it’s important. So schedule calls to come either directly before or directly after your daily workout, lunch, or call to your spouse.

Identify your personal black holes. Most people have at least one activity that sucks them in—something that, once they start, it’s difficult for them to escape. For many, this black hole involves the TV, computer, or mobile phone. Avoid activities that waste time, or use them as a reward for accomplishing something important.

Enlist support. Major change is hard to undertake without the support of others. Find one or two people who are willing to support you, and let them know exactly what you’re planning to do and when you’re planning to complete it. Tell them you’ll report back at a designated time, and ask them to hold you accountable to your goals. Their encouragement can make the difference between success and failure.

Linda King is a life coach who owns of The Joy of Getting Things Done, a professional coaching practice in Boston.