How are you managing your time?

As independent contractors with no time clock to punch, time management can be a make-or-break skill for agents. As more and more of us work from home, it can become increasingly hard to make a distinction between your daily routine and actual money-making activities.

I'm as guilty as anyone. Here's how my days used to unfold: Like many of my fellow agents, I'd attempt to get an early start on the day. Up at 6 a.m., make a cup of coffee, check my email, check Facebook, have another cup of coffee, then the kids are up. Help get the kids ready and off to school, another cup of coffee, check Facebook again, check my email again, read some news and head for the office.

Once at the office I would check Facebook and my email again, and then chat with other agents (about anything but real estate). Before I knew it, it'd be lunch time. No time clock to punch, so an hour-and-a-half lunch with another agent—telling myself that this is work because I am out with a fellow “co-worker"—was not uncommon.

I'd find myself settling into my desk after lunch, thinking, 'Wow, it's 1:30 in the afternoon and I'm just getting started.' But wait, the afternoon lull hits, so I'd need to get up, grab a cup of coffee, talk some more with my fellow agents, and then I'd finally be ready to get some work done.

Time flies, huh?

So let's review. I'd be up since 6 a.m. All of a sudden it's 2 p.m. What had I done to make money?

Nothing. I've done nothing to sell homes

I was lucky early in my career to have a great business partner who pointed out many of these unproductive activities for me. Frankly, when I looked at my routine I was a little embarrassed.

You may be thinking, ‘Wow, Eric was lazy,' but it wasn't just me. Later in my career, as an owner and manager of a real estate company, I watched this same story unfold for other agents every day. It often amazed me how agents could be at the office for 40 hours a week but would manage not to accomplish a single thing. Seeing this problem in an astonishing number of agents led me to look at their daily routines more analytically.

How could agents get more out of each day?

What were they spending time on? When were they most productive? How could they stop unproductive activities?

Time management is a broad subject, but there are a ton of helpful books and articles available that can help you find direction in a relatively short amount of time (see some related links at the end of this blog.)

Each agent must find his or her own systems and create their own successful habits, but these four questions are a great start:

  1. What am I spending my time on?
  2. Is the activity I am currently doing productive?
  3. When am I most productive?
  4. How will I stop unproductive activities?

Further reading

I recommend using this activity log at Mindtools.com as a resource toward increased productivity. Log your days and see if you can spot some trends in productivity (or lack thereof).

David Allen's book “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity" is another great time management read.

Eric Sachs is a co-founder of BreakthroughBroker.com. Send your feedback to eric@breakthroughbroker.com.