Time management is critical in the real estate business, which requires both structure and flexibility. Use these tips to create a schedule that will maximize your efficiency while allowing enough leeway to work with your clients.

Set goals and plan to follow them

Scheduling works best if you know exactly what needs to be done. Keep a list of periodical goals prioritized by what will most help your business grow.

For a new agent starting out, your first goal may be to create a solid list of potential clients and connections. Spend your time working on collecting names and contact information and invest in a quality customer relationship management (CRM) system. Without clients, you have no business; therefore, it doesn’t make sense to allocate a lot of time to follow-ups when you have yet to make sales.

Periodical goals are easier to meet if you break them down into smaller daily goals. Each evening, create a to-do list for the next day. Work to accomplish those smaller tasks that will build up to success in your periodical goals.

For example, the new agent’s periodical goal of developing a working contact list is supported by the agent’s daily goal of making contact with three potential clients a day.

Time block your schedule

Allocating time blocks for critical tasks will not only balance your schedule, it will increase your focus and productivity for each task. Some important time blocks to schedule include time for:

  • cold calling;
  • assembling leads;
  • returning emails;
  • making and receiving phone calls;
  • follow-ups;
  • marketing;
  • previewing properties;
  • showing properties; and
  • meeting with clients.

Organize these tasks to maximize their efficiency. Dedicate your morning hours to generating leads, as that is when most people who stay home during the day will be available. Schedule time for meetings with clients in the late afternoon or early evening, when your clients will have time after work.

Of course, not all clients will comply with your set schedule. Some clients may be demanding or insist you be at their beck and call – you may need to determine whether these clients are worth your time.

However, if the occasional, respectful client has a time-sensitive request or an important scheduling need, make an exception. Exceptions need to be rare, or else you’ll allow clients to control your time and wreak havoc on your schedule.

If you do need to make an exception, prioritize the time-sensitive task first thing in the morning during your lead generation time block. This is when having meetings and phone calls scheduled for the afternoon comes in handy – you don’t need to reschedule with anyone. Instead, simply postpone your lead generation tasks until the priority task is complete.

For example, you may choose to return emails and assemble leads from 9 to 11 A.M., take a break for lunch, and then show properties from noon to 3 P.M. You may reserve the early evening for meetings with current and new clients and follow-ups with past clients.

Communicate your schedule

Organizing your schedule is useless if you don’t communicate it to clients and colleagues. Ensure your colleagues know the hours in which you are available for meetings and consultations. Inform your clients of the times you are available for phone calls, emails and showings.

Use automated responses to remind clients of your availability. Set up auto-emails and auto-texts which state something like this: “Your call is very important to me. I will be available to return your call between 1 and 3 P.M.” Ensure your marketing materials reflect this availability as well – don’t promise around-the-clock availability, only to miss most of your clients’ contact attempts.

Don’t forget to communicate your schedule to friends and family. It’s easy to slip away for an hour or two during your marketing time block to meet up with a friend or accomplish personal errands, but it will turn into habit faster than you think. Schedule time for personal tasks, but don’t sacrifice your scheduled work time for things you’re able to accomplish later.

A successful real estate practice flourishes with effective and structured schedules. Maintain a disciplined schedule, and you’ll see the payoff as your business grows.