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.