In what I thought was a brilliant reality check for people looking to get into real estate as the market heats up, Greg Nino wrote an excellent blog post called “An Open Letter to Anyone Wanting to Get Their Real Estate License”. Number 4 on Greg’s list of 42 items is that you and your cell phone will become inseparable. Number 32 is that your spouse or significant other will be annoyed that you are always on your phone. Noticing a theme? These points will become even more true as time and mobile technology march forward. (I would add tablet and laptop to that list as well.)
That being said, there is a very real power in disconnecting.
I highly recommend it. In fact, I highly recommend it daily. You see, in your business you have a choice to make. You can either be a typical agent who plods along every day moving from transaction to transaction and be very successful. Or, you can choose to be the CEO of your business and take it to an entirely different level. Part of being the CEO of your business is having time, uninterrupted time, to get things done.
I ask you this: do you think that the CEO of Apple answers his iPhone every time it rings? Of course not. So why do you? Ok, so maybe Apple wasn’t the right example. They make things. You are in the service industry. How about the CEO of American Express? Or McDonald’s? Or Netflix? I think you know the answer. Of course they don’t. So why do you? Why do you let people manipulate you and your time?
Well, first is a need to please our clients. Most of us got into this business because we want to help people. Second is a need for referrals and we mistakenly think that means that we have to be available to everyone all the time to solve the most trivial of things or the entire universe will explode. Then there are ratings and surveys, your online reputation, and so many other things pulling at your time. How do you manage it all?
That’s the magic question, isn’t it. How do you manage it all? Well, I would start with stopping. Stop answering your phone every time it rings. Stop answering every email you get no matter the time you get it. You can’t just go incommunicado, but you can set reasonable expectations with your clients about when and how you will communicate with them. Schedule time at regular intervals to check email and phone messages and return them. Leave the times you will be returning calls in your voice mail message. Return the calls and emails when you say you are going to.
A couple of important tips to help you on the way. Just because you schedule time doesn’t mean you can’t check your phone or email every now and then and put fires out if needed. It’s the setting of the expectation that matters. If you do answer or return the call, you are all the better for it because you have gone above and beyond by calling back before you said you would. That’s what you’re looking for with your need to please and get referrals, right? Finally, make sure some of that time you are scheduling away from your phone and email is spent with your spouse or significant other so they won’t mind so much when you do have to be on the phone.