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Time-Blocking Tips for Real Estate Agents: How to Get Started Managing Your Time Wisely

Time-Blocking Tips for Real Estate Agents: How to Get Started Managing Your Time Wisely

12 min read
Time-Blocking Tips for Real Estate Agents: How to Get Started Managing Your Time Wisely

Real estate is one of those careers where your success depends heavily on your ability to manage yourself. The appeal (and danger) of working in real estate is that there isn’t anybody looking over your shoulder to ensure that you’re generating enough leads to feed yourself, which means the only one responsible for your success (or failure) is, well, you!

What is time blocking?

Time management is key—but then the question becomes, how do you manage your time? What should you be doing? Who uses time blocking? Many successful real estate agents swear by time-blocking as a technique that helps them keep meticulous track of their days and ensure they’re spending enough time on the tasks that are going to generate money.

What is time blocking? Time blocking for real estate agents is the best way to become more productive. Whether you’ve never time-blocked before, or whether you’re familiar with the concept but have to troubleshoot your own execution, here’s the rundown on how to start time-blocking as a real estate agent, how to identify roadblocks and remove them, and how to find efficiencies and iterate on your time-blocking as time passes and your business grows.

What are your business goals?

Before you start actually creating those blocks of time on your calendar, you’ll first need to assess how much time you’ll want to be spending on different activities. How can you predict the future like that? By evaluating your business goals and working backward from where you want to be, in order to determine what you need to do every day or week.

If you make business goals at the beginning of each year, then you can take a look at those and remind yourself what you’re hoping to achieve this year. If you don’t, this could be the perfect time to start!

Many agents will target a specific amount of money they’d like to make in the year, or perhaps break a new personal record for the number of deals they plan to get done in the year. If money isn’t the motivator that you’re seeking, consider creating a time-related goal. Are you hoping to generate more free time for yourself, so you don’t feel like you’re rushing through the day? Maybe create a more consistent flow of leads, so you’re spending more time on certain activities and less time on others?

When you’ve identified your goals, ask yourself how many deals you are going to need to close in order to reach it. Then figure out how many of those deals are likely to come from leads and contacts already in your sphere of influence, and how many new leads you will likely need to generate to make up the difference.

After assessing your business goals and breaking them into pieces that you can tackle on a daily or weekly basis, it’s time to figure out how to delegate your time to make it happen.

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What should you be blocking off?

Every real estate agent’s time-blocked schedule is going to look a little bit different, depending on what your goals are, whether you’re a newer agent or have several years of experience under your belt, the resources you have at your disposal, and many other variables.

Still, there are a number of tasks that almost every agent is going to want to block off on their calendars on at least a weekly basis, if not daily! Consider adding all of these to your own time-blocking schedule.

1. Your morning (or daily) routine

Even though this time-blocking exercise is intended to help your business, you’ll still want to block off time for any personal activities and routines that help keep you on your game. By putting them on the calendar and scheduling time for them, you’ll be announcing how important those activities are to yourself and to your business.

Wake up at the same time every morning, especially if it’s a working day. Get out of bed, eat breakfast, do some mindful reflection or journaling, and exercise. You don’t necessarily have to follow that order (though getting out of bed first is usually not up for debate), and you don’t have to do all of those things every morning. But you should definitely have time in your schedule for all of them.

Even if you consider yourself a couch potato by birth and have no intention of meditating ever, two of the best things that you can do for your brain, your productivity, and your mindset are to exercise regularly, and to build some kind of stress relief activity into your day. Maybe these tasks don’t come naturally to you, but if they give you more mental and physical energy to tackle the daily ins and outs of real estate deals, isn’t that a good enough trade-off?

Some people like to try to get their workout and mindfulness or prayer in at the end of the day instead of the beginning. Whatever works for you is best—but it needs to be blocked off on the calendar and treated as seriously as any other appointment you make.

2. Lead generation: Preparation

Before you can start generating leads to nurture and convert into clients, you’ll likely have some groundwork to tackle. This is going to depend on the kind of lead generation you’re working on, how many different lead generation strategies you’re currently juggling, which ones are newest, and which ones have the most recurring work to keep the wheel turning.

For example, if you’ve decided that you’re going to try cold-calling FSBO numbers to generate leads, then to prepare, you’re going to need to obtain a list of those phone numbers. You might also want to use this preparation time to review common objections, write yourself some scripts, do research on market statistics to help prove your case, or any other task that you’ll need to have accomplished before you can pick up the phone and start making those phone calls.

If you’re hoping to farm a geographic area, then this preparation time might comprise putting together your address list, ordering postcards, or designing a flyer to hang in the local coffee shop.

Consider all of the tasks you’ll want to finish before you start the actual lead generation boots-on-the-ground work; this is what you’ll be blocking off for your preparation time. Most likely, as your lead generation strategies solidify, you’ll have to spend less time on preparation—but you’ll probably always have to spend some time getting ready to generate.

3. Lead generation

This is the time you’ll spend actually making the phone calls, knocking on the doors, hosting the webinars, or digging into whatever strategy you’re hoping will introduce you to the most people who are hoping to buy or sell a house and want your help to get it done.

Coaches will tell you to spend as much time as possible on lead generation, and many agents make the mistake of circling around the preparation work over and over instead of moving onto this step. Talking to strangers is too uncomfortable! And this is where the genius of time-blocking becomes truly apparent: When you’ve already carved out time for the preparation work, and tackled it, you have no excuse for not casting your lead generation lines.

How much of your time should lead generation take? Ask yourself how many new leads you’ll need to accomplish your business goals this year, and then plan accordingly. For agents with a lot of repeat or referral business (and for most agents over time), lead generation will likely become a more secondary task to lead conversion: turning those existing leads into clients, and keeping those existing clients engaged with your business.

4. Lead conversion

All the leads on the planet won’t make you rich if you never do anything with them. Lead conversion is, essentially, where you spend your time making (and keeping) appointments with your leads and clients. You can also use this time to send gifts or notes to clients with milestone dates approaching, follow through on promises to deliver a CMA, or inquire about whether that possible Airbnb buyer client you met a few months ago is still interested in looking at condos with vacation-rental-friendly COAs in your resort town.

How much time should you be devoting each to lead generation preparation, actual lead generation, and lead conversion? This is going to depend on where you are in your career and how many of your clients come from referrals or repeat business, and how many are brand-new. The best way to continue to generate a loyal client base is to work on nurturing and converting existing leads instead of filling your pipeline with new ones, although you should ideally be working on both. 

5. Respond to communications

If you’ve noticed that we haven’t mentioned checking email or replying to text messages yet, that’s a very astute observation—and it’s deliberate! The time suck that texting and emailing can cause for agents is mind-bending, and the best way to avoid it is to set specific times of day when you will respond to your messages, at least the non-urgent ones.

This doesn’t apply to any volcanoes erupting in the midst of a current deal, of course. But we’ve all opened up our email idly to see if there was anything we could work on only to find ourselves mindlessly browsing Amazon somehow half an hour later. When you set an intentional time to check and respond to your messages, you’re much more likely to ignore those rabbit holes entirely and concentrate solely on the emails or texts that require an actual response from you.

6. Administrative tasks

From marketing jobs to managing your ongoing transactions, the minutiae and paperwork are all part of the glamour of being an agent! Don’t forget to set aside some time every week to handle the nitty-gritty—or delegate, if you’re at the point in your business where you can afford to hire help.

7. Training and development

At least once a week, carve out a block of time to work on training and development. This might be a brokerage-sponsored course that you’re required to take, ongoing education from the National Association of RealtorsⓇ, or your own time spent reading a book or taking an online course that’s intended to help you grow.

8. Time for meals

You likely have at least one meal you have to accommodate during your working day, so block off time for lunch every day. If you start early enough or work late enough to also creep into breakfast and dinner hours, block those off as well.

When you don’t make time for meals, then hours might pass before you realize you need to eat—while you’re right in the middle of something you can’t drop. Squeezing meals in “just whenever” is expensive in many ways, so create time to eat.

9. Time to breathe

Isn’t this the same thing as lunchtime? Nope!

You’re not a robot, and going from one task directly to another is going to require at least a small period of adjustment. You’ll work more efficiently and intelligently over time if you stretch that period of adjustment into an actual break and give yourself time for a quick stretch, a change of scenery, a glass of water, or whatever else your body or mind are craving.

Build in some cushion time around your activities so that you won’t be rushing directly from one time block to the next.

How do you block your time? - Time Blocking

Different agents have different preferences for how to do this, but generally speaking, there are a couple of ways that you can think about blocking your time.

Time blocking real estate agents

By hour of the day: You’ll do the same things every day, Monday through Friday. For example …

  • 8 a.m.-9 a.m. Lead generation preparation
  • 9 a.m.-10 a.m. Lead generation
  • 10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Administrative tasks
  • 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Lead generation
  • 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Respond to communication
  • 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m. Lunch
  • 1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. Training and development
  • 2:30 p.m.-4 p.m. Lead conversion
  • 4-5 p.m. Respond to communication
Time blocking real estate agents

By day of the week: You’ll prioritize different tasks on different days of the week, and you’ll time-block broadly for priority activities on those days. For example …

  • Monday: Lead generation 8 a.m.-11:30 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; lead conversion 12:30 p.m.-4 p.m.; respond to communication 4-5 p.m.
  • Tuesday: Lead generation 8 a.m.-11:30 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; lead conversion 12:30 p.m.-4 p.m.; respond to communication 4-5 p.m.
  • Wednesday: Administrative tasks 8 a.m.-11:30 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; lead generation 12:30 p.m.-4 p.m.; respond to communication 4-5 p.m.
  • Thursday: Lead generation 8 a.m.-11:30 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; lead conversion 12:30 p.m.-4 p.m.; respond to communication 4-5 p.m.
  • Friday: Training and development 8 a.m.-11:30 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; administrative tasks 12:30-4 p.m.; respond to communication 4-5 p.m.

Generally speaking, you’ll want to think about blocking your time in half-hour or hour-long increments. Any shorter than 30 minutes, and you’ll risk micromanaging the heck out of your day, which is not going to help you get much done. Longer than an hour, and you’re not likely to maintain the energy needed to do the job well. (Can you really make cold calls for three hours straight?)

If the task is, indeed, something like cold-calling, where specific times of day can make a big difference in your success rate, then you can consider stretch your maximum blocking time to two hours—but make absolutely sure you book at least one break for yourself during that time. Use the Pomodoro technique with a timer, or actually block a break into your time block.

What tools should you be using?

You can use any tools to time-block, but a calendar works better than almost anything else. Google Calendar will let you set recurring times daily as well as by day of the week; you can also create multiple calendars for different types of activity. For example, you can create a calendar for all of your ongoing lead conversion appointments, one for lunches, one for administrative tasks, and so on.

Why would you want to do that? One reason is because you can link a specific calendar (such as your lead conversion appointments calendar) to a tool like Calendly, and then allow leads to book appointments with you directly on your website, which will put the appointment in your calendar during the time slots when you typically take those appointments. You can create different appointment types, such as a listing appointment or a first-time buyer’s introduction to the market.

Take advantage of easy cues like color codes and consider creating some visual cues as to your priority or most important activities. For example, you could make any urgent money-making activities red, or green for inspiration!

What if you’re (still) not getting things done when you’re supposed to?

Here’s how to start troubleshooting your time-blocking tactics to make sure you’re really getting the most out of your time.

Step 1: Track your time with an app

The first question is: Are you really spending your time on what you’re supposed to be spending your time on—and if not, what’s taking its place? Using a time-tracking app can help you assess what you’re actually doing when you’re supposed to be making phone calls, and when you’re checking your email during the day.

Take a look at what the app is telling you and your time-blocking schedule. What are the “problem” tasks that send you down temporal black holes? And what are you spending your time on, exactly, instead of the task at hand?

Step 2: Use the Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix asks two questions of each task on your list: Is it urgent? Is it important? Urgent tasks are deadline-driven; there’s a date looming (or, in a bad case, in the past) when something needs to be done. Important tasks might or might not have a deadline attached, but they will have an overarching impact on your life as a whole.

As an example, paying your taxes is both urgent and important. Exercising regularly? Important, but not urgent.

In real estate, one example of an urgent, but not important, task might be responding to every single Facebook Message that you receive on your real estate page, personally—unless that’s a key part of your lead-generation strategy. 

Time blocking for real estate agents

Step 3: Eliminate and delegate

Hopefully you don’t have any not-urgent and not-important tasks in your time blocks. But if you do, get rid of them!

For any urgent but not important tasks, it’s time to flex any automation or delegation muscles you have available to you. Automate and delegate your social media posts, listing marketing processes, blog posts, and anything else you can offload so that you can focus on the parts of your business that are truly important.

Step 4: Consider time efficiency

Don’t leave your most important tasks for the end of the day, or the last day of your work week. Take a look at when you’re blocking time off for those important items that aren’t getting completed, and ask yourself if there’s a better or more effective time when you could be doing this task.

Move any critical tasks to earlier blocks of time during the day, or earlier in the week when you’re most refreshed from the weekend and able to tackle them.

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