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.
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.