Avoid the Busy Trap: Mastering the Art of Effective Time Management

I am constantly asking my brokers the question, “Are you running a business, or do you have a busy-ness?” We all love time management because we feel like we can control time with to-do lists and the latest apps and gadgets, but that could not be further from the truth. Controlling time is like controlling the ocean’s tide or controlling gravity; you cannot control it, but you can control your preparation. Preparation separates those who have a real estate business from those who have a busy-ness. Adding rituals to your day, week, month and year can be the difference between being overwhelmed and unproductive, or in control and achieving at high levels. They are that powerful. Many of the world’s high achievers start their day with a morning ritual. This is the only time of day that the phone is not ringing, email and texts are not pinging, and family and personal responsibilities have yet to awaken. Putting an extra hour in the morning every day towards your business will add eight, forty-hour work weeks each year. That is two extra months that you can use toward planning, thinking, reviewing, learning, and preparing. Then, when game time hits at 8 a.m., you’re ready to deal with the chaos that can be the real estate business. In 2009, I started my morning ritual of waking up at 4 a.m. It has been one of the most important changes that I have made to my life. I get more done in those quiet two or three hours than I do the rest of the day, and it allows me to be available for my brokers all day long, without the stress of unfinished business. I am not saying you have to wake up at 4 a.m. — my children start getting up for school around 6:30 a.m., so I have to be aggressive in my approach. Start by adding an extra half hour for 
the first week, and then add the second half hour the following week. You’ll be blown away by the results of your productivity, as well as the amount of stress that can be avoided by adding this extra, important level of daily preparation. Another powerful habit to add to your arsenal is a weekly ritual. I started mine after taking Darren Hardy’s “Insane Productivity” course. I set aside one or two hours late on a Sunday afternoon to review all of the meetings, appointments, text messages and emails from the previous week to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. When I find a text message that got buried or an email that requires action, I immediately add that to my task management system for Monday. After I’ve reviewed the previous week, I then look at the upcoming week and identify the meetings, appointments, clients and agents that need my attention. 

I add those items to my task management system for Monday morning. My Sunday ritual allows me to “clear the calculator” so that I can go into the next week not worrying about the previous one. I’ve cleared my mind, which allows me to focus on what items need attention on Monday. I could write an entire article on yearly business planning, but I have a limited character count. In short: you should start planning for 2016 TODAY. Creating a real estate business plan in January is too late — Q1 is essentially already over. You have to take the time to create a business plan, just like pilots need to put in their flight coordinates.  If you don’t know where you are going, you will never get there. This cliché’ is so basic, but it’s scary how many people don’t heed it. Writing down your goal for the year, reviewing it daily, and then putting action behind it is a formula for success that will never fail. Adding these simple productivity ideas to your life and business in a consistent, thoughtful way will grow your business; it will also decrease the amount of stress that comes from lack of preparation. If you take the extra time and effort to prepare for your day, week, month and year, you will save countless hours and pain from the stressful chaos caused by “winging it.” Get out of the trap of being “busy” and get back to your business. Jim Miller, Managing Broker & COO, Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty Digital_Extra