If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Where did this day go?” you’re not alone. In the life of a real estate agent, there are countless things that can tug at your schedule, and before you know it, you haven’t finished any of the high value tasks you’d planned to accomplish.
In the fast-changing game of real estate, it doesn’t take much to derail even the best-laid plans. A hiccup in an escrow or inspection, a skittish buyer stuck on a detail in the purchase agreement, or a surprise request for a showing, can consume your day and zap your energy. And those are just the important things.
In fact, US workers report being interrupted every 3 to 11 minutes with all sorts of tasks and requests. But top real estate producers already know the productivity struggle is real. Their daily routines are designed to deal with the unexpected, while still acing the most important tasks on their to-do lists.
The magic bullet is…oh, wait, there is none! When we asked 14 rockstar agents, brokers, team leaders and coaches to share their successful daily routines, the first thing we learned is there is no single right answer for setting up your schedule. Still, you shouldn’t let that stop you from creating up the best daily real estate routine for you.
Whether you wake before dawn, at dawn or sometime after, what you do once you get out of bed sets the tone for the rest of the day.
Top producers are purposeful about their morning routines. So regardless of whether your day kicks off with a 6-mile run or a caffeine run, set a routine that gets you motivated for the day ahead and schedule it as you would a meeting.
”It's too easy to just roll out of bed and grab your phone to start your day with work,” says Casey Tray, owner of Live Florida Realty, who begins each day with exercise, gratitude, and a light and healthy breakfast.
“If you are up early enough to take the time for yourself,” Casey says, “it will carry you throughout the day with more confidence, energy, and focus.”
Here are more pro tips for creating a winning morning ritual:
Nick Baldwin, COO of Lab Coat Agents and co-founder of the largest real estate community on Facebook, notes that you can’t always devote the morning to yourself, but with a little intention, you can always find a way to carve out some me-time.
“If you’re like me, and getting the kids out the door is #1, try a few things: Wake up 15 minutes before everyone and read,” Nick says. “But don’t read business books first thing. Read fiction. Fiction helps your brain with imagination. Imagination leads to creativity, and that’s something agents need daily to continuously set themselves apart.”
“Start your day with fiction.”
RVA Home’s Shannon Milligan, a Richmond Association of Realtors Award winner for 8 years running, calls her morning routine, “the most important hour of my day”.
“I use the ‘5 Second Rule’ to get out of bed and immediately lace up my shoes for a 4-mile walk, and listen to a motivational book the first 15 minutes. Then I collaborate in Clubhouse for the remaining 45 minutes,” she explains.
Lee Adkins, a real estate expert, consultant, and head of growth at Amplified Solutions, says no matter what the rest of the day brings, he makes sure his day starts out with something that brings him peace of mind.
“I have to have focused time. No phones, emails or any distractions from outside until I’ve done my early morning meditation, had some coffee and some quiet time,” he says. “I’m generally up by 5:45, but I do my best not to get to my desk until 9. By then, I’m focused and ready to go.”
Ryan Fitzgerald, owner of Raleigh Realty, starts his day at 5 am and, after a trip to the coffee shop, spends the next 3-4 hours on his website and blog.
While others might see these as tasks that could wait until later in the day, Ryan has a different philosophy. “Starting my day with things I love — building websites, coffee, interacting with great people — has helped me to build Raleigh Realty,” he says.
Bottom line, no two Realtor morning routines are the same. Find what lights you up and stick to it.
“Starting my day with things I love has helped me build my business.”
While daily routines are highly personal, what you include in your schedule shouldn’t be. Real estate agents agree that following these rules is essential to accomplishing your goals.
Start your day by checking off the tasks most important for accomplishing your goals. For most, that’s lead generation, but if what’s most important to you is getting home in time to help the kids with their homework, that’s ok too.
Whether it’s business or personal, the trick is to figure out a structure that will allow you to take care of the things that come first in your life.
Knowing what’s most important to you also gives you the fortitude to stick with your schedule when the inevitable interruptions start interfering with your plan for the day.
“Nowadays everyone is so obsessed with productivity hacks or gimmicks, but there are none,” says Coleman Combs, Realtor at Wemert Group Realty. “The only way to maximize productivity, in my opinion, is to accomplish the most important tasks of the day first, followed by the least important tasks of the day. Whether it’s a business goal or something in any other facet of your life, start with the most important things first.”
“Whether it’s a business goal or something in any other facet of your life, start with the most important things first.”
For most real estate agents, generating leads is Job #1, and not surprisingly, they dive into their lead lists first thing.
Kyle Alfriend, a RE/MAX International Hall of Famer, is up at 5 am and starts lead generating by 7 am.
“We are not in the house showing business,” Kyle says. “We are in the lead generation business. I send emails and texts in the earlier hours and switch to calls when everyone’s awake. In real estate there are few distractions in the morning (most aren’t even working yet), allowing full focus on lead generating.”
Many top producers block out their day by assigning specific time periods for generating leads, following up on leads, answering emails, showing appointments and other meetings, and admin tasks.
Assigning time blocks for each task ensures that you’ll get the important things done, even if other distractions pop up.
Eric Bramlett, co-owner of Bramlett Residential and winner of the Austin Business Journal’s top producer awards every year since 2013 (yes, really), says that on his team 9 am to 9:30 am are reserved for daily follow-up. ”This is sacred time, and nothing is allowed to get in the way.”
Agents at Bramlett Residential time block another 1-3 hours every day for their goals. “You want to separate what you want to accomplish from the whirlwind, the daily grind of servicing clients, answering emails, etc.” Eric explains. “Time block 1-3 hours for your actual goals, and let the rest of your day consist of dealing with the whirlwind.“
“Time block 1-3 hours for your actual goals, and let the rest of your day consist of dealing with the whirlwind.“
For owner of Spyglass Realty Ryan Rodenbeck, working your CRM is everything. He spends twice as much time in Follow Up Boss as he does with emails and social media. In fact, Ryan coaches agents to “live in their CRM”.
“I always coach my agents to make their CRM a habit,” Ryan says. “Most of us have Facebook, Instagram, and our email up and ready to go, so put your CRM in there as well. Agents should start their day in their CRM looking at the texts, emails, and calls and then spend at least 30 minutes going through the last activity to see if there is something actionable to respond to.”
You’ve heard it before, timing is everything.
But despite the mountains of time management advice for real estate agents, the fact is your ideal time for getting stuff done might be totally different from someone else’s. Top producing agents know exactly what time of day their energy levels are at their peak, and schedule their most important tasks during those times.
Lee Davenport, a leading national real estate coach and founder of Learn with Dr. Lee, says, “There’s no shame in being an early bird or a night owl. It is vital to understand the times of the day that you can get lead generation done. The key is to know who you are, when you are personally most energized, and partition off some of that time for lead generation.”
In addition to really understanding their energy levels throughout the day, many of the real estate agents we spoke to said they start their day the night before so they can wake up ready for what lies ahead.
“My day starts the night before, with a list of the most crucial must-do things I need to accomplish the next morning,” says Brandon Grass, an agent with RE/MAX Kelowna. “I find writing this down frees my mind to rest while I sleep.”
“The key is to know who you are, when you are personally most energized, and partition off some of that time for lead generation.” — Dr. Lee Davenport
It’s one thing to have a plan and it’s a whole other thing to consistently put it into action. Here are some of the ways top producers make sure they stay consistent in how they execute their daily schedules.
After focus and mindset, many agents attribute their ability to execute on their daily schedule to one thing: delegation.
Donna Stott, co-founder of Your Coaching Matters, says the reason she’s able to devote her morning focus to working her contact lists is that she uses a virtual assistant to check her emails and voicemails with instructions to notify her only for absolute emergencies.
“The best way to structure your day is to first ignore anything except absolute emergencies first thing in the morning,” Donna says.
Instead of putting out small fires that can wait, Donna spends the first 1-2 hours of each day reaching out to her planned contacts—existing leads, hot leads, past clients and sphere of influence VIP groups—and potential new prospects.
Time blocking is essential for getting things done, but it’s also important to build some flexibility into your daily schedule.
“When it comes to having a schedule, it’s easy to be on one side of the extreme—no schedule at all, or keeping a firm and rigid schedule. I believe the magic happens in the middle,” says Barry Jenkins, a multiple award-winning owner at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate.
Barry says where agents go wrong is “they don’t fight for their schedule.” If, for instance, a hot prospect wants them to show a home at 9 am and their follow up time is from 9 am to 10 am, it’s ok to ask if your client can schedule the showing later. “If you do this consistently, you’ll find that the exception is when you have to miss your follow-up time.”
“When it comes to having a schedule, the magic happens in the middle."
Many real estate experts also recommend setting a time to start work and a time to finish, just as if you were an employee on the clock.
Dale Archdekin, founder of Smart Inside Sales, recommends brokers start their day around 8 am–9 am. Having what he calls a “hard start” and “hard stop” to the workday, “forces you to be efficient with your time instead of frittering away your time.”
Dale starts his own days with an hour of exercise and what he calls “mindset work like meditation or journaling”.
He coaches agents to set up their schedules so that they look something like this:
8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.: Hard start to workday
9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.: Lead generation (minimum 2 hours)
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.: Administration (30 minutes to 1 hours)
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.: Lunch
1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.: Training and meeting
2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.: Lead follow up (1-2 hours)
3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.: Appointments or more lead generation if there are no appointments
7:00 p.m.: Hard stop to workday
There’s no question that adding a structure to your daily schedule will help you be more productive. Or that blocking out time to generate leads will help you close more deals.
But if you haven’t worked with a routine before, it’s important to be kind to yourself. Start small, such as adding one or two of the steps here to your day, and do those consistently. Then check to make sure these changes are working, and add more steps over time.
Even the pros say they don’t typically accomplish everything they set out to do on a daily basis, but having a plan and sticking to it ensures that they’ll always get the most important things done.