By Samantha Jones
The elusive work-life balance—many of us strive for it—but it’s easier said than done. It can be difficult to step off the hamster wheel in this 24/7 business. Yet, I’ve found the harder it is to unplug and unwind, the more crucial it is that we do so. Removing ourselves from the grind of real estate is imperative to avoiding burn out and better serving our clients.
I’m the daughter and partner of a former flight attendant; she bestowed in me my love of travel. Craving a break from the routine is my norm, but often at odds with my Type-A personality. I am determined to carry every one of my clients to the finish line of a smooth closing.
In our service industry, putting others first is at the core of who we are and what we do. We’re constantly on the clock and stepping away can feel negligent. But we have to remember just about every other industry offers uninterrupted time off. We deserve this, too.
Here are a few ideas for establishing a plan and systems so nothing falls through the cracks, ensuring your clients are covered and your guilt is assuaged.
Strategic Timing. Avoid trips during the months of peak of market activity in your area. Instead, plan a getaway prior to the traditional boom. In Chicago, Super Bowl marks the kick-off of our busy season. That means spring trips are usually off-limits. We keep our noses to the grindstone from February through April or May. That way, we can justify sneaking away at other times.
Technology. Thanks to the accessibility of Wi-Fi and hotspots these days, you can run your business from just about anywhere in the world. As I write this, I’m sitting on a lanai in Florida. I’ve put out a few “fires” this week and some of our clients don’t even know I’m away. Some do know—it just depends on the nature of their current needs. I’ve been fortunate enough to do business while lounging on boats, trekking around Europe, and soaking up the sun on Michigan beaches this year. Guess what? I’m still on track for a record year.
Back-Up. Agents who are part of a team usually have a buyer’s agent or listing agent who can help out with a few clients. For solo agents, you’ll have to enlist another trusted agents to be your “boots on the ground.” After all, you can’t show a house or attend an inspection while you’re away. Find a trusted confidante or showing agent you trust implicitly who can handle your appointments. Just work out a fair deal pay-wise or reciprocate and trade your help for theirs.
Boundaries. Do you know how to spot an agent who’s on vacation? They’re the ones who are working on their laptop beachside or pacing the pool deck on the phone. I’ve found it’s best to set aside an hour, more or less, to answer messages or client calls each day. I prefer to do this in the morning. That way nothing is missed and anxieties are kept at bay so I can enjoy the rest of the day. In all honesty, sometimes that hour becomes an entire day. It’s a tradeoff for being on vacation and I’m still working on finding the perfect solution.
Find Peace. You have to be at peace with occasionally missing a listing presentation or buyer who absolutely cannot wait for you. This hurts every single time. Just remember that you have likely been on the receiving end of opportunities because another agent was too busy or out of town when that client needed them. In the end, it’s all a wash.
You’re entitled to enjoy yourself. Remember all the times you worked for weeks at a time without a day off, negotiated a deal from a wedding, or took time away from your family. We’re no good to our clients if we aren’t the best version of ourselves. If you’re looking for a sign, this is it. Treat yourself and schedule that long weekend away or European cruise you’ve been dreaming of. Carpe diem and happy travels!
Samantha Jones is an award-winning real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in the Chicagoland area. She is a top producer who specializes in residential sales. Connect with Samantha on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.