By Jesse Loader

Work/life balance…. that phrase holds a lot of power. How you execute this can be the difference between success and failure, between extraordinary and mediocre, or even the difference between a happy marriage and divorce.

We all know how demanding this industry is so I won’t ramble on about specific examples to illustrate that. At some point in your career (if you are aspiring to do more than you currently are), you will run into a problem where your daily schedule simply doesn’t work anymore. The amount of time you are spending at work seems to creep longer and longer as the weeks pass and before you know it, you’ll feel as if you missed a decent chunk of your home life.



We all know or have heard of someone who is successful, but has zero relationship with their children, or has been divorced three times, or is continually chasing that happiness they think is at the end of the next sale, the next project or the next business deal. I truly believe that you can have it all. I do not and refuse to believe that it’s simply one or the other. You can be successful at your craft AND be an amazing, supportive partner and parent.

Jess Loader and family in Dubrovnik, Croatia during a trip to Europe.
Jesse Loader and family in Dubrovnik, Croatia during a trip to Europe.

I have a wife of nine years and two children, ages seven and five. They are my everything. I’m not saying that because that’s what I should be saying. Every decision I make is with those three in mind. When you become a top-producing Realtor, it becomes difficult to maintain that balance, so here are a few tips to strive to have it all.

1. Shared calendars.

We have amazing technology – make it your friend. I put everything in my calendar that I share with my wife. I really mean everything. I have a recurring appointment late in the evening labelled, “Uninterrupted wife time”. No joke. I found that when I had friction in my relationship, it didn’t have anything to do with the fact that I was working, it was that I didn’t communicate it properly.

2. Limit your time for set appointments.

Currently I have Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings and one day on the weekend available for showings or listing presentations. That’s it. I am flexible on which days I choose to fill depending on my client’s availability, but not on the amount of days per week. These days also change as my kids’ extra-curricular activities change throughout the year. Kids come first.

3. Teach your clients how to communicate with you.

If you are available at the drop of a hat, you will be taken advantage of. I tell my new buyers which days I am available, and when I am not. So far, not one single person has stood up and walked away because I am not available 24/7.

4. Wake up early.

By getting up early, it allows me more time in the evenings to spend time with my wife and kids. This point is always controversial because I hear this all the time: “I just work so much better late at night, I can’t do mornings.”

Okay, but I believe that most of the time that is a BS excuse. I do understand that some people work better and are more productive late at night, but I think it’s the minority. Your body has limitations and when it’s taxed all day I can’t imagine it’s running at peak performance at 1 am (but I’m not a doctor). I get more done in the 90 minutes before anyone in my house is awake, than I do the rest of the day in the same amount of time. No phone calls, no texts, no emails, no notifications, just work. You would be absolutely stunned at how much you can accomplish in 90 uninterrupted minutes.

5. Go on vacation.

Seriously, this might be the most underused tactic to becoming more productive. Have you ever noticed how busy you get right before going on vacation? That’s not a coincidence. You have a set deadline that you sure as hell aren’t going to miss, so you become laser focused on the top priorities and you ignore the stuff that can wait. Either learn to do this daily…or go on a lot of vacations. I choose the latter.

6. Prioritize with a family-first mentality.

No one will care how many houses you sold, how much money you made, or what awards you won when you’re on your death bed. Family is truly the most important thing in anyone’s life, and although it’s hard not to care about the materialistic things in the moment, try to think about the bigger picture. Plan vacations, hockey, dance, anniversary getaway and other family events first. They take priority in your new shared calendar. If you plan on spending the evening with your kids to just hang out at home this Wednesday, put that in your calendar. When someone calls and asks to see a house Wednesday at 7 pm, your response needs to be, “I’m sorry, I already have an appointment at that time, but how does Thursday at 6 pm sound?”

Work/life balance, time management…these are topics that we all struggle with and I’m definitely no exception. This topic is an evolution for me always. I hope to share new tips with you in the future. I have found though, that since I made a conscious decision to prioritize my family first, everything improved, including my bottom line.

  • Carolyne in Canada

    I miss Peggy Blair’s posts. Her and everyone’s chief critic is gone from the REM forum, so perhaps she will write articles again.

    Not to look in the rearview mirror. In a prior thirty year marriage every Friday night was date night. Every working day I “planned” my career work so that I was home about 4:30 PM. I cooked a full course meal for my family everyday.

    My schedule was such that sit-down meals at the table was a must. But my children were young adults when I went into real estate. A massively huge career change, but not a change in the long hours I had always worked. Looking back I was a machine. Who knew. You just did what needed doing. And no one ever heard me complain. Because I didn’t. I loved my work, whatever work was to be done.

    But I perhaps had a better understanding of time-management than most. And my chief goal was never to let my clients down. In all the years I didn’t have a dozen expiries. I thought I had been “hired” to “sell” my listings, not just to write tiny 4-line black and white ads for them, or in later years, put them on the Net.

    After 1997, having been one of the first with a domain, I personally prepared a storybook website page for my listings as an ad method. Just one of many ways to get the word out.

    So I set about to do just that. “Sell” them. Ideally, myself. No one ever told me I had it all wrong. Who knew. But there was such an unknown factor: a reciprocal benefit. Site visitors saw and said: I want some of that when I’m ready to sell my place

    But I need to say – just my agent-opinion: sellers often want, or in some cases demand, advertising.

    And branch managers had budgets for advertising, to divide up among 26 agents. Fixed number of agents per branch. A manageable number. But what (head office) managers failed to realize was that “advertising” was a mega-opportunity to “make the phone ring.”

    I saw that from the very beginning. Yes, my goal was to sell my listings, but it didn’t take me long to cotton-on that those calls (my various kinds of ads) on specific properties presented me with an incredible opportunity. When it was decided that the caller and the property didn’t match, I took an inordinate amount of time getting to know each caller: their real wants, needs, and wish list. Of course, me being me, I took prolific notes, opened a file immediately and started my course of action to help the caller achieve his or her goals.

    Some other caller would buy the ad-house. But this one was worth gold, anyhow.

    My schedule arranged for mostly evening listing appointments and at-table or in-office offer presentations, to always be 7:30 PM or later. Due to the nature of sign-backs and negotiations, often it was midnight when I got home. I slept till 7:40 AMmost mornings. And between 9-9:30 AM, I was in my office or working in my home office.

    Part of any success comes from being organized. The calendar. I mostly ate my lunch at my desk. I’m not criticizing those who went en group to lunch to have a break in their day, sometimes spending hours with colleagues. But I just didn’t have time. And I kept my private life away from my business world.

    I had a wonderful private secretary who was not permitted ever to be in the office, not past the reception desk into the bullpen. Only at the front desk to deliver paperwork or pick up files. No private file cabinets were permitted in the office. Eventually I worked mostly from my home office.

    There was a “mandatory” Tuesday morning office meeting, followed by new listing viewings. I never missed one Tuesday meeting in all the years, except after ten years when I had to be absent for broker courses for a few weeks, during which time the manager refused to provide to me any material discussed during the missed meetings. He was furious at my absence, and had told me so when I informed him I would be awol.

    In speaking of balance and career success, every month there was a top agent meeting – out of town, arranged by head office for the express purpose of networking. I was at those wonderful and very worthwhile monthly get-togethers out of town (could have been Kitchener, Cambridge, Ancaster, Islington, and other places, Terra Cotta, Millcroft in Alton), every month in all the years.

    When I left the corp in 1991, and went off on my own, that was what I missed most, the monthly celebration get-togethers. The results: I would have as many as 35 referrals completed transactions, in or out, every year. All as the result of networking. But an interesting aside. I had been gone from the corp for twenty years when I came across a prior old regional VP. I invited him to sit for coffee. He had no recall of who I was.

    My transactions were always close to home base. I’d sell a house in Bramalea and refer the sellers out as buyers, to Islington or Rexdale, only a half-hour drive away. I was highly criticized for doing that, even so it was a corporate paradigm. But it worked for me. Generated reverse referrals. So the branch in fact lost nothing, but gained many reverse transactions plus a referral trade record sheet.

    But: Imagine sometimes driving for a couple of hours, each way, to a wonderful hotel or golf club top agent lunch, every month, then back to listing presentations and offers. Bear in mind, in all kinds of weather.

    In multiple offer situations in winter weather we would sit, jointly waiting sometimes for hours in the seller’s basement rec rooms, seeing Johnny Carson sign off, waiting to hear if our offer was accepted. Back at the office early in the morning.

    Oh, I forgot, sometimes an 8 AM open house to catch the shift workers coming or going, to help our sellers “sell” their house. “Do you already have a sales rep?” In sub-agency days. If so, I would notify the rep to follow up with their buyer, and that sometimes elicited an MLS offer for my sellers. Or even a shared exclusive listing on a rare occasion of having one.

    I’m guessing no one talks about such things. Never see any references at REM. Many of you have heard me say I didn’t door knock or phone canvas. Yet my phone never stopped ringing. You can make a career of networking. I did, and it kept my calendar full. But you surely do have to be organized in order to survive and profit from your efforts. And maintain family-time balance. Your calendar is your friend.

    And calendars are not only for dental appointments and hockey games. Travel back and forth takes “time,” too. For me, for 35 years I had to make room for a monthly out of the area chiropractic appointment. I discovered early on that I didn’t have time for hairdresser wait-time appointments and manicures. Learned how to do my own personal care routines. Haven’t been to a hairdresser since 1987. True.

    And, there’s something to be said for farming. I only spent 700-900$ annually on gas, and only put 10k miles on my car in a given year.

    A topic I have never seen addressed in the industry: spousal jealousy when the woman is the high earner in the family. I was sometimes told (even by a male colleague) the “little woman” should stay home, where she belongs, that to be a top producer meant I was taking food from his family’s mouth. I had always calendarized family time. And I still made time to read, to write, and to cook.

    Success is nothing without someone to share it with…

    Carolyne L 🍁

  • Jonathan Stewart

    Great article!

  • Annette Olive

    Great topic and very well said and written ..Thanks!

  • Rita Giglione

    Excellent advice for newer realtors.