For New Yorkers, complaining seems almost like a full time job.
When I worked as an agent in Manhattan though, the only people who complained about working “80 hour weeks” weren’t closing very many deals…
There’s a simple reason why:
The more stressed you are the harder it is to sell real estate. 😨
Yes, really. You want to know what stresses most people out more than anything else? Working more than 40 hours per week.
Even worse, studies have shown that working more than 40 hours a week makes you LESS productive.
Thankfully, there’s a better way;
How To Learn to Stop Worrying & Love the 40 Hour Work Week
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. You have to work 70 hour weeks to get ahead right?
Believe it or not, there is 150 years of productivity research behind the 40 hour workweek.
More to the point, it wasn’t designed to help workers, but to boost productivity, and it applies to people working from home too.
In fact, study after study has shown that productivity falls off dramatically after working more than 40 hours per week for a month.
If you or a coworker needs a reminder to take a break, print out this graph from Daniel Cook and pin it to their monitor:
Long story short?
You CAN work 60 hours a week, but after an initial boost, your productivity falls off a cliff.
The takeaway here should be obvious…
Okay, okay… I know what you’re thinking.
“I have too much to do and not enough time to do it as it is… How can I get MORE done by working fewer hours?!” 😡
Well, you’re going to have to embrace yet another cliche that turns out to be true:
Work smarter not harder.
Ready to give it a shot?
Here are 7 ways to become a lean, mean, selling machine that still has time to take the dog to the park or spend a weekend in the mountains.
1. Prioritize Your Daily Tasks With The Eisenhower Matrix
Before you can start working smarter instead of harder, you’re going to have to sit down and figure out which tasks are absolute priorities, which are important but not THAT important, and which tasks are straight up time sucks.
15 year real estate veteran and SEO specialist Joshua Jarvis uses what’s called the Eisenhower Matrix to help agents prioritize their tasks;
Like most great ideas, using the Eisenhower matrix is actually pretty simple. Make a list of all the real estate tasks that you do on a daily basis, and put each one into one of four categories:
1. Do first
These should be your core tasks that directly earn you money like cold calling, door knocking, managing Facebook ads, and responding to new leads and current clients.
As the category name suggests, you should do these tasks first. Joshua also suggests blocking out time in your day to get these tasks done. More on this later.
Important, but not urgent, you should schedule tasks like researching a new CRM, networking with listing agents, optimizing your website, and segmenting your leads.
Here’s where it might get a little tricky for some agents. Delegating tasks is great if you have the help available. If not, we have tips for finding great, affordable help in this article. Can you delegate social media? Hunting for email addresses? Screening cold leads?
4. Don’t do
These are the tasks that aren’t helping you at all. For most people, these will be social media related. For example, have you been spending an hour a day on Pinterest for six months with nothing to show for it? Probably time for a new strategy.
Once you have your Eisenhower Matrix done, you’re probably going to be scratching your head.
Is this really going to work?
Is it really possible to become a top producer working… 40 hours per week?!
Yes. Yes, and yes.
Here’s some tips on how you can do it:
2. Automate Outreach & Lead Nurturing With a Good CRM
Want in on a secret to real estate success? Most agents at the top are kind of cheating…
No, they’re (probably) not committing RESPA violations or hoarding pocket listings, but they’re using robots (!) to automate many of the tasks you might still be doing the old fashioned way.
Their robotic secret weapon?
A good CRM that helps you reach the right lead, with the right message, at the right time.
Right now you might be squeaking by with Excel, but what’s going to happen when you have 5x as many leads to deal with?
How are you going to remember all their birthdays, closing anniversaries, move dates, preferences, etc. etc?
Chance are, you’re not.
You’re going to just push ahead and let leads, deals, and most importantly potential future referrals just slip through the many cracks in your system.
A great CRM can save you HOURS of work per day and help you nurture leads long enough to become clients and closed deals.
Amazingly, since there is so much competition in the CRM space, you can get a great CRM like Insightly for free!
Real Estate CRM
Insightly offers excellent lead segmenting features and project pipelines, as well as email automation functionalities and email templates. They have a good number of integrations and even a mobile app to manage leads on the go.
Best of all, they have a free version for up to two users.
Perfect for small teams and brokerages, Propertybase is a real estate specific CRM built on the rock solid industry standard Salesforce platform.
It offer a ton of automation and customization options, and offers something that many real estate CRMs don’t: It integrates directly with your MLS.
That means you save properties they liked, send out blasts with new listings, weekly updates and anything else you’d do within your CRM and regular old email.
All in One IDX Websites/CRM Systems
Another option would be to sign up for an all in one IDX website that comes with an integrated CRM. If you’re handling lots of website leads, this might be your best bet.
Good options here include Real Geeks, Boomtown, and Chime.
The only downside here is that these systems can get pricey quick.
For a good IDX website with a CRM you’re looking at around $150—$250 per month at a bare minimum. More sophisticated sites and CRMs can cost more than $1000 per month and up.
3. Hire an Overseas Virtual Assistant
This one will take care of the “delegate” section of the Eisenhower matrix.
Since not every agent can swing a full time US based assistant, hiring from overseas is usually a great starting point.
In fact, many large brokerages and other companies hire overseas virtual assistants for more mundane tasks like updating listings, social media, finding contact information, lead qualifying, appointment scheduling and more.
Here at The Close, we’ve had great results hiring VA’s from the Philippines from onlinejobs.ph. Like India, remote workers in the Philippines speak great English, and many even have specific real estate experience.
You can hire part time or full time workers, and can even browse workers profiles to find the perfect match for you budget and specific workflow.
You can expect to pay anywhere from $5 to $10 per hour for a qualified and hard working virtual assistant in the Philippines
4. Hire an ISA
If one of your pain points is qualifying and nurturing cold leads, then you might want to think about hiring an ISA (Inbound Sales Associate).
An ISA does many of the selling tasks that you might ordinarily do, but screens and qualifies you leads so that you only end up with the cream of the crop.
Next, and ISA might set up a schedule to call and nurture those cold leads that you don’t have time for in order to keep you top of mind.
While ISAs can be an amazing advantage to your team, keep in mind that in many states, they will need to be licensed.
That means higher salaries, and more difficulty in hiring and retaining talent for new and newer agents.
Instead of going through the process of hiring your own ISA and hoping you can afford them and have enough work to keep them busy, you might want to consider a service like Agentology.
Agentology offers 24/7 lead qualification and support from their US based ISA team.
Even better, they charge a pretty reasonable flat rate of $25 per month and $6 per lead. That means low lead volume = a lower monthly bill.
5. Start or Join a Team
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in almost a decade of working in real estate, it’s that no Realtor is an island.
Or, to use an even cheesier cliche, it takes a village to sell lots of homes.
Think about it. What top producing Realtor do you know that doesn’t have an assistant, an ISA, a closing coordinator, and a few junior agents?
What mega top producing agent doesn’t have dozens of junior agents if not their own boutique brokerage?
The answer of course, is almost none.
There’s a very good reason for that. Teams allow team leaders to delegate.
That means they can work on small parts of the business that they’re great at like pitching homeowners, or negotiating deals, while a whole crew of other people work on what their great at.
If you want to get ahead in real estate, start a team.
If you want to work in real estate but have tons of leads, lots of support, and a whole lot less chaos, join a team.
Although the myth of the super hero solo agent may persist, they are rarer than unicorns in today’s tech driven market.
6. Spend More on Lead Generation
This one may seem a little counter intuitive, but if you internalize one more cliche (last one, I promise) then it will eventually click:
It takes money to make money.
In a a lot of ways, success in real estate isn’t a whole lot more complicated than that.
The more you spend (smartly) on lead generation, the more leads you’ll get, and the more deals you’ll close.
The more deals you close, the more referrals you’ll get.
Rinse, repeat, and head straight to that vacation property in Malibu you’ve been daydreaming about.
Of course this strategy will leave you with lots and lots of cold leads that fall through the cracks.
Luckily, after you started getting more leads and closing more deals, you used some of the strategies outlined above to keep your workload out of the constant panic mode you’re in now.
By the way, did you know that 70% of sellers only interviewed ONE agent before listing their house? That means if you want sellers (or good buyers for that matter) you want to get them as soon as they start their search.
Since almost everyone starts their search in Zillow, Zillow Premier Agent is the perfect way to get great leads before they’re gone. Click below to see if Zillow Premier Agent is available in your zip code.
7. Use Time Strategically
Another crucial step toward working fewer hours per week is to use your time more productively.
In practice, this means you need to adopt two strategies that have been proven to increase productivity for most people; time blocking, and the Pomodoro Technique.
Let’s start with time blocking.
Time blocking is just what it sounds like. Instead of sitting at your desk and attacking a million little tasks at once, you block off large chunks of time and tackle one at a time.
This guarantees you will be more focused, and therefore more productive.
Let’s say you identified cold calling as one your important tasks to schedule.
Instead of sprinkling calls throughout the day, mark off say, two hours every morning to set aside for just cold calling.
Keep doing this until you have your entire week blocked out so you’re spending the most time focusing only on your most important tasks.
Don’t Let Your Schedule Become a Tyrant
The fastest way to throw your schedule out the window is to turn it into a tyrant and never, ever deviate from it.
Stuff will happen. Your days and mood will change. Think of your schedule more of a strong suggestion rather than a command.
Remember to Schedule Time for Relaxation
Another way to ensure you abandon your new schedule is to overbook yourself with work.
Instead, remember to schedule in time to grab a coffee, chat with coworkers about anything that’s NOT real estate, or just take a walk.
The best way to work relaxation into your schedule is to use something called the Pomodoro Technique.
The Pomodoro Technique
Named for the tomato shaped timer the system’s inventor used, the Pomodoro Technique is a simple way to block your time to increase productivity.
The idea is that your brain can only truly focus on one task without wandering for around an hour.
That means getting up and taking a quick break every hour or so and then returning to your work will make you much more productive.
Although the evidence for the productivity increases is anecdotal, a study of workers in 2014 found that the top ten percent of employees by productivity tended to take 17 minute breaks every 52 minutes.
In order for it to work, you need to set a timer with a gentle alarm set to remind you to take a break.
Believe it or not, this has actually been studied as well. A 1999 study at Cornell found that subjects who were given reminders to take breaks were 13% more accurate in their work than subjects who had no reminders.
The Takeaway for Realtors
Working a billion hours per week is not going to make you rich and famous. In fact, if you learn time management for Realtors, use time strategically, hire help, start a team, use a great CRM or up your ad spend, you will actually close more deals working fewer hours per week.