15 Productivity Tips for REALTORS® to Save Time and Work Less
Hanging in there, real estate pals?
Yes, no – barely?
We hear you. Busy season has arrived and it’s only going to ramp up from here.
To help you survive — and thrive — during the season, we’re bringing you all kinds of tips and tricks this month to maximize performance, time management and results.
First up: productivity.
In this post, we’re covering 15 productivity tips to help real estate agents save time and work less.
1. Tackle Big Tasks First
It’s natural to want to start your day by clearing your plate of the tasks that seem easiest — responding to emails, cleaning up your desktop, booking a meeting and so on.
But these tasks can pile up. By the time you’re finished with your small tasks, you might feel too tired, distracted or strapped for time to tackle the bigger task that was higher priority.
Switch things around.
Identify the big tasks — the ones that must get done that day — and start with those first. When you’re done, you’ll feel relieved and prepared to work your way through the little jobs that require less brainpower.
2. Set Time Limits
Implement time limits for meetings, phone calls, lunches, breaks and tasks. And enforce those limits.
When you treat every activity like a calendar item, you’re more likely to stay focused. Plus, those hard limits give you an “out” during meetings and calls when it doesn’t feel like progress is being made.
Who said you have to do it all by yourself? The ability to delegate (and delegate well) makes you more effective, not less.
Here are a few ideas on what kind of activities you can delegate:
- Travel. If you don’t have to drive, don’t. “Delegate” your transportation to a taxi or a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft. Then respond to emails during the trip.
- Staging. Maybe you prefer to prep a listing for an open house yourself. During the busy season, consider hiring a staging and cleaning crew to take over.
- Blogging and social media. Don’t let your digital marketing game slip; if you have the budget, hire a contractor to take over your real estate blog and social media efforts while you’re out closing deals.
- Cooking. Find it too difficult to eat well while you’re busy? Outsource the cooking to a healthy meal delivery service.
4. Plan Your Days in Advance
On Sunday morning or afternoon (not before bed), make a list of what you need to accomplish in the week ahead and create your plan of attack.
Create daily and weekly goals and to-do lists, and flesh out your calendar as much as you can (revisit #2 on this list). At the end of each workday, revisit your to-do list for the following day and make revisions as necessary.
5. Be Strategic With Coffee
Avoid the temptation to sip coffee all day long. Drink a cup or two in the morning as you’re starting your day. Save your second or third cup for the afternoon, between 1:30 and 4:30, when cortisol levels naturally start to drop.
6. Block Distractions
Despite our best intentions, we’re all susceptible to being pulled away from work by the latest political gaffe or video of a turtle that’s riding a puppy. Defend yourself by removing distractions as much as possible:
- Work in your private office or an equally quiet space
- Don’t listen to the radio while working
- Switch off social media notifications
- Use apps like FocusMe or browser extensions like StayFocusd to prevent you from accessing distracting websites and tools
7. Make a “Look at Later” List
Raise your hand if you keep browser tabs open with articles, lists and videos you want to check out later.
Those are tempting distractions. Instead, create a bookmark folder and add webpages as you encounter them, closing the tabs afterwards so you’re not tempted.
8. Plan Your Meals
It sounds silly, but deciding when, where and what to eat can cut into your day. Instead, plan what you’ll eat in advance of each workday or workweek.
If you love to cook, consider taking a few hours on Sundays to prepare your meals for the week ahead, or use a meal kit delivery service.
If cooking in any form isn’t your thing, plot out your prepared food delivery or takeout options in advance, so you don’t waste time debating between sushi or salad every day.
9. Create a No-Meetings Day
This one is hard to stick to, but if you can make it work, whether it’s once per week or once per month, the rewards are plenty.
To increase your odds of meeting-free day success, pick your day three to four weeks in advance. This makes it easier to schedule meetings and calls on other days as needed.
As for how to make use of a meeting-free day, it’s up to you. It could be like any other work day (minus the interruptions), or a day for future-planning, or a day to tackle tasks that keep falling to the bottom of your to-do list.
10. Group Similar Tasks
Switching gears and moving between very different tasks eats into your productivity; each time you start a new kind of activity, your brain takes a few minutes, or longer, to drop into the zone.
Maximize your productivity by grouping similar tasks together. For instance, if you know you need to pick photos for five different listings, do them one after another, rather than finishing two in the morning, one over lunch and two more after dinner.
11. Take Breaks
Obvious, sure, but not everyone makes this a priority. As mentioned in tip #2, treat your breaks like any other scheduled task and stick to them.
Experiment and find a break schedule that works for you; maybe you need a five-minute break every 25 minutes, or a 10-minute break every hour.
Mix up how you take your breaks, too. Go for a quick walk up and down the street, stretch, lay down and close your eyes, make a snack or play a quick game.
12. Put Travel Time to Good Use
If you’re in the backseat of a car or on public transit, respond to emails, make calls, book meetings and take notes.
If you’re driving, listen to a real estate marketing podcast or dictate notes or ideas to yourself (no texting and no making calls that aren’t hands-free).
13. Avoid Over-Committing
Being a real estate agent is like being self-employed in that we’re responsible for our own livelihood. It makes it hard to say no. But when we feel like we need to say yes to everything, we inevitably end up overcommitting at times and, as a result, under-delivering.
Try to avoid this trap. Be realistic about what you can do by when, and be honest about it.
14. Figure Out Your Optimal Times
We all have our own windows of peak productivity. Not everyone’s is the same. Some of us work better in the wee hours of the morning, and then again at night. Others need to sleep until nine, then give it their all from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Pay attention to your own energy levels and figure out how to best align them with the general working hours of the world (a 6 to 9 a.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. schedule isn’t going to work with your clients — sorry!)
15. Keep a Notebook Handy
When it feels like your world is moving at the speed of sound, great ideas and notes-to-self can come and go just as fast. Always, always keep a notebook and pen on you to jot down those important, but fleeting thoughts.
It’s old school, but better than a phone’s notes app, which is easy to forget about, and more covert than speaking into a digital voice recorder.
How many of these tactics do you already use? What else would you add to this list?