We are three business days into the new year and I already feel like I am failing at my goals. I am increasingly overwhelmed with what I need to do to bring in income and my long-term vision of building this blog. I have projects that I need to complete for clients, invoices to send out, blogging to do and none of that includes working on any of the goals I have set for the month. It’s a tight rope act that requires a balance so I don’t fall off either side. Throw in a cold day with no school for the kiddos yesterday and I am working to not be in full blow panic mode.
Does your chest feel tight reading that? I know mine does! How do I solve this problem? I don’t have the perfect solution, but I have taken some tips from the pros and made them work for my life.
Tip #1: First Hour Dedication
I am a self-admitted, Type A control freak. Yet as a business owner and a mom I have very little control over the details of my life. One way I combat this is to dedicate the first hour of my day to working on my business. Working on my business means I am doing the things that I can to promote or grow my business. In my case this means I am either learning about blogging, promoting posts or writing fresh content. I am not replying to emails, I am not answering phone calls and I am not dinking around on the internet. I am head down, focused ON making my business better and making me grow as a person.
Many among you might say, “I can’t do that. I need to answer my clients phone calls ASAP. Or I have to write that sales contract first thing in the morning.” To you I would say “Really? Will the world come crashing down around you if you wait an hour to answer a client’s call or to write that contract? This is real estate, this is business. Not open heart surgery.” Brutal aren’t I?
To those that say, “She has no idea what she’s talking about. She’s never even been a licensed real estate agent!” Fair enough, no my livelihood has never rested on people buying and selling homes. But I have been in and around this business for over 20 years and I have seen things that separate the successful agents from the failures. Those that are successful take the time to work ON their business. They manage their business instead of their business managing them. How? They set expectations with their clients up front. When you have a new client, let them know that everyday, you spend between 8am-9am working on your business and not in it. That you take that time to learn more about real estate so you can become a better agent. If you are up front and honest with people from the start, they will respect you for it and respect your boundaries. You aren’t going to lose a client because Joe Agent down the street is available to their client all the time and if you do, is that the kind of person you want to work with?
If you want to be a successful agent set a meeting with yourself every single day. Dedicate the first hour of your day to working on your business, growing it and yourself. That is how you go from closing 15 deals a year to 50+.
Tip #2: Be Careful on the Internet
The internet, what a rabbit hole it is, isn’t it? You login to Facebook to get a quick update on what is going on in people’s lives and to do a quick check on the news. An hour later you look at the clock and think “What did I just do for an hour?” Then you either do a mad dash to make up for lost time and find yourself multitasking like a crazy person. Or you shrug your shoulders and keep messing around on the internet because you figure you’ve already lost that time and your productivity is lost for the day.
How can this be fixed? Well the well-respected blogger Amy Lynn Andrews, has a time management tip that has changed my screen time completely: have a plan of action before you even sit down in front of your computer. Think about why you need to use the computer before you turn it on. If you want to check social media set a time limit so you aren’t sucked into the black hole that is social media. If you have a CMA that you need to do, make sure that is actually what you are sitting down to work on. The computer and the internet especially are big time sucks. Having a mental plan of attack before sitting down in front of the computer will help you to be productive every single time.
Tip #3: Airplane Mode
Did you know that the airplane mode on your phone works when you aren’t on an airplane? Of course you do! (Or if you didn’t I just told you!) I love putting my phone on airplane mode when I am writing because I am not constantly distracted by the dings from email or social media or the phone ringing. When I started doing this I would worry that I would miss an emergency phone call about my husband or my kids. Truth be told it could happen (and the first time it does I will feel awful guilt), but the chances are slim. I find that when I put my phone into airplane mode and really focus on the task at hand, my productivity goes through the roof.
Tip #4: Non-Traditional Time Blocking
I am terrible when it comes to traditional time blocking! It never fails, the day I set up a time blocking schedule everything in the universe happens to throw me off schedule. So I stopped doing traditional time blocking because it felt self-defeating and like I was setting myself up for failure right from the get go. Plus it was a lot of unnecessary pressure!
I am doing something different and setting time blocks for tasks. Right now two things I want to work on everyday is spending 15 minutes on creating an awesome email newsletter and 30 minutes working on a better opt-in for my email subscribers. On Monday it worked out that first thing in the morning I had 45 minutes where I could work on the newsletter first and the opt-in second. Tuesday was different. Tuesday I had 15 minutes before I took my daughter to school so I worked on the email newsletter. Then at lunch time, I spent 30 minutes eating and working on the opt-in.
Instead of putting a time block that I must work on these items everyday between 9am and 9:45am, I put a time limit on the amount of time to work on them and scheduled them into my day accordingly. This has also taken off the pressure that I must feel inspired to work on these tasks at certain times. Nothing leads to worse writer’s block than making myself write when I am not interested in doing it. To keep myself on track I have a spreadsheet with the tasks I want to complete everyday so I can cross them off as I go. Plus there is something about seeing those boxes filled in that feels rewarding!
Tip #5: Accept Yourself
I am a work in progress, I am nowhere near perfect, how about you? The more I realize that and the more I accept that about myself, the less hard I am on me. Am I behind on my daily tasks and goals now? Oh yes, for sure I am. Am I sitting on the couch everyday watching TV and doing nothing productive? Nope, not even on our cold day home from school. So I am trying, I am working hard and I have to give myself credit for that. If I can’t complete all of my tasks to meet my goals for one day, I at the very least try to pick one task that will move my goals forward that day.
For example, when I was home with my kids because of the cold day, I made sure that all of my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn posts went out for the day. It was no small task with 3 crazy kids running around, but I got it done and I was proud of myself for it. If you find yourself frustrated at the end of the day because you didn’t do anything to meet your goals, take a quick inventory of what you did accomplish that day to make yourself feel better. And I will make you a deal, I will stop being so hard on myself if you promise to do the same for you!
Goals are great and critical to success in life. When we set our goals we are so excited to dig in and start working on them. Then life happens. Business comes in the door or the kids gets sick or an emergency comes up and all of a sudden working on goals gets pushed to the back burner. It seems like a vicious cycle doesn’t it? One way to break the cycle is to try the tips above and see what works best for you. This is a marathon not a sprint and if you take small steps everyday to meet your goals, by the end of the year you will be amazed at what you have accomplished. Now get out there and start stepping!
What do you do every day to make sure you are working on your goals? What do you do when you get derailed from your goals? I am always looking for new tips so please tell me about it in the comments below! Thank you for your comments!