By Toby Welch
When you work in the 24/7 world of real estate, is it possible to find a way to balance life with your career? Some agents feel balance is an elusive myth and that chasing it will lead to nothing but frustration and heartache. Others feel it is an attainable goal. Either way, take advantage of the unconventional schedule that a real estate career offers to figure out what works for you.
Jennifer Queen, a sales rep with Re/Max Professionals in Winnipeg, balances her day-to-day schedule with an app on her iPhone. “I do believe in starting each week by putting the big and important tasks in, and then scheduling the rest of my week around them. I like to schedule my days to have a portion at my desk, which is usually focused on some form of income-generating activity. On a personal level, there is scheduled time at home with the family. The rest of the scheduling is then filled in as things come up, whether it be listing appointments, inspections or returning phone calls as the need arises.”
Queen finds the following helpful in maintaining balance:
- Social media can be a black hole, so she sets a timer. When the buzzer rings, she moves onto the next task.
- Setting time aside for family on a daily basis ensures she sees her children other than when they are sleeping.
- Optimizing systems at work to improve efficiencies allows for more freed-up time.
Queen is a big proponent of leveraging. Hiring out tasks gives agents more control of their schedule.
Technology can make or break your quest for balance. Electronic devices can make our lives easier. The list of gadgets and apps at your disposal to make real estate buying and selling more streamlined is never-ending. But technology can also eat your time and leave you floundering. Keep tabs on it.
Nancy Forlini, a real estate broker at Re/Max Solutions in Montreal, wonders if a balanced life really exists.
“It’s all in the definition that one person would give it. Balanced life for some people is working nine to five and having weekends off. For others it’s working intensively for four to five weeks and taking one week off. For others it is in different moments that you take in the day, where you can stop….take a moment and fully enjoy that moment. It can be moments that are 10 minutes in the day, or an hour. It could be just the moment where you look at your spouse and connect or the same with your children. Real estate is a wonderful profession and a business that we can design the way we want to. It’s all up to us to define for ourselves the meaning of a balanced life.”
Michael St. Jean, a team leader and real estate agent with St. Jean Realty in Ancaster, Ont., finds time blocking helps him maintain balance. “I sit down every Sunday morning and map out every hour for the next seven days. Everything from waking up to when I go to sleep and in between. Knowing exactly what you want to do/accomplish each and every day is extremely important if you want to maximize your day and be productive. It’s not about being busy. It’s about taking calculated actions that move the needle. Too many people fill their days with unproductive activities, react to everything and go wherever the wind blows. You must have a plan.”
Achieving a balanced life does not magically happen. It takes time and attention and, as St. Jean says, a plan. Discipline is essential, as is time for reflection. Saying no when necessary is one key. It is possible to reach a place of balance when working in an always-on career.
St. Jean offers advice on maintaining balance for those new to real estate: “Real estate is a lifestyle. The idea that there is a start and finish each day is gone. You must be responsive, available and ready for anything at anytime if you want to be successful. The nine-to-five mentality does not apply here. Weekends are for people who work conventional jobs.
“We have weeks that consist of seven days and business applies at all times within a given week. It requires a real shift in mindset and lifestyle. At the same time, you have full control over your schedule. You must manage your time efficiently and block the necessary times for work and your personal life. Without proper scheduling, you are going to burn out.”
Katia Samson, a real estate broker with Groupe Sutton Centre Ouest in Montreal, uses a calendar to help her stay balanced.
“Entering everything into my calendar holds me accountable both professionally and personally. From business appointments to plans with friends, workouts and vacations – it’s all in there,” she says. “With so much going on, these alerts and reminders eliminate the possibility of me forgetting something and remind me to take time for myself. Planning ahead is key. On Sundays, I schedule my workouts and prep healthy meals for the week. #noexcuses”
Samson continues, “When I’m in business mode, that’s where my focus is. When it’s finally time to unwind, I try my hardest to clear my head of anything work-related. The ultimate reward is taking a vacation – a happy place where I go to renew my energy.”
A truly balanced life includes time for yourself. Figuring out what makes you happy and then doing it is huge. Get enough exercise. Eat the right foods. Allocate time to things that rejuvenate you.
Samson leaves us with a parting thought, “Someone once told me, ‘If you’re not well rested, your client is not getting your best opinion.’ In an industry where your opinion means so much, it’s vital you gain the respect of clients and co-workers by being at the top of your game mentally and physically. This means taking care of yourself, giving in to your needs, making time for others and genuinely enjoying what you do every single day.”