What Does Your Schedule Look Like?

To more effectively manage your time, be deliberate about how you plan your day.

January 29, 2015

You may think creating a schedule for yourself is useless because you’re probably not going to stick to it. Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans, right? But the real problem may not be the ineffectiveness of scheduling itself. It could be that you’re not scheduling your time efficiently enough.

Bret Calltharp, a business development specialist with RE/MAX franchise Metro Vancouver Properties, told real estate professionals at Real Estate Connect in New York this week that the real key to success in this industry is being deliberate about scheduling their workload.

“You would think that high producers have no lives, that they’re chained to their desks,” Calltharp said. “But a lot of them are very good at managing their time.” He encouraged attendees to think about tasks in three layers, and schedule them accordingly.

  1. Must-do tasks: “This is the foundation of your work,” Calltharp said. Your must-do tasks are those that will prevent your business from growing if you don’t do them, such as lead generation, marketing, and contacting past clients. Calltharp suggested beginning at least three days a week with these must-do tasks, blocking out an hour or two of your morning to call prospects or meet a past client for coffee.
  2. Will-do tasks: These are the things that will be necessary at some point in your interactions with clients, such as home inspections or listing appointments. Most often, Calltharp said, agents schedule these things according to their clients’ timetables. Instead, you should block out time on your calendar when you are free to do these tasks, and give your clients those options of availability: “You can be in control of your time and behavior.”
  3. Can-do tasks: This is your to-do list of everything else that comprises your day. “Put a dollar sign next to the tasks that are going to make you money,” Calltharp said. Go back to your calendar, and fill in the task that will make you the most money, then the No. 2 task, and so on. "If you leave your calendar open on things like this, you’ll never get anything done,” he added.

The key to all of this, of course, is that once you’ve created your schedule, you have to stick to it. But if you can be disciplined enough to follow your schedule for just a short time, Calltharp says it becomes second nature.

“It’s about making routine things into habit,” Calltharp said. “You brush your teeth and shower every day. Once you start doing something over and over again, it become habit. It becomes part of your foundation.”

He even says that if you want to stick to a 40-hour-a-week work schedule, you should actually pencil those hours in as work time on your calendar. If you want to spend a certain amount of time with friends or family, schedule that time.

“Make little baby changes to your schedule” to slowly adapt to a new way of operating, Calltharp suggested. “You don’t have to blow up your week. Make small, incremental changes, and keep doing them until they become habit.”

Consider Working Outside the Office

If you want to minimize potential distractions to stay on task, consider working from a home office. Sarita Dua, ABR, GRI, an agent with Keller Williams Realty in Portland, Ore., is a team leader managing three buyer’s agents and a transaction coordinator.

“I didn’t realize how much of my transaction coordinator’s job I was doing when I was in the office,” Dua said. “I would get distracted by something and then start working on something other than my original task.”

She said that she would be in contact with her transaction coordinator ten times a day, bogging down her time.

“I couldn’t believe the productivity gains I made when I started working from home," she said. “Not being in the office forced my team to have more trust that everyone knows what tasks they are responsible for. Now I pretty much can go a whole week talking only twice to my transaction coordinator.”

The shift has freed Dua to focus more on prospecting and taking listing appointments, while her buyer’s agents do showings. It’s even allowed her to schedule more personal time.

“Last year, I took 68 days off, so my goal in 2015 is to do the same amount of volume and take 100 days off,” she said.

Graham Wood
Executive Editor of Digital Media

Graham Wood is Executive Editor of Digital Media for REALTOR® Magazine. He can be reached at gwood@nar.realtor.