How to Plan a Productive Week, Part One: Prioritizing Productive Work

A few weeks ago, I was asked to speak at an office about how to become more productive, specifically how agents could better organize their day.  I wrote something up, and thought I’d share it here.  This is Part One: Prioritizing Productive Work. You can find Part Two: Managing Your Schedule here. 

Part One: Prioritizing Productive “Work”

First, let’s talk about what “work” is.  The problem most unproductive agents have is that they’ll spend the day at the office as if they are “working,” but they’re not actually doing real “work.”

So what is “real work?”  We define it as follows: (1) servicing active clients, (2) developing new clients, and (3) professional development.  That’s what work is.  That’s what your job is.  That’s what we mean by “productivity.”  If you’re not doing those three things, then you’re not really “working.”   You’re just frittering away your day.

Let’s break that down a little. Here are some examples of what constitutes “work” under this system:

1.  Servicing Active Clients

The main bulk of your daily and weekly routine is all the work you do to service your existing clients.  This includes everything you do for your listings, all the showings you do with your buyers, and all the transactional work you do to put deals together.  It also includes, of course, the time you spend in your initial conversion meetings with sellers and buyer: the consultative presentations you do to turn them into active clients.  This is the heart of your business.

Here are some of the examples of activities that would constitute “work” because they involve servicing active clients:

  • Weekly followup calls with active listings.
  • Weekly followup calls with active buyers.
  • Preparing for listing and buyer presentations: preparing CMAs, for example.
  • Giving consultative listing presentations to seller clients.
  • Giving consultative buyer presentation to buyer clients.
  • Marketing your listings: taking pictures, video, writing up descriptions, putting the property in MLS, staging and detailing.
  • Showing your listings.
  • Holding open houses.
  • Setting up showing appointments for your buyers.
  • Taking buyers on showings.
  • Doing market analysis for your clients.
  • Presenting offers.
  • Negotiating deals.
  • Attending inspections.
  • Handling inspection issues.
  • Handling transactional issues with attorneys and mortgage professionals.
  • Attending walkthroughs and closings.

How much time should you spend servicing active clients?  Figure about 60% of your time.  Basically, a little more than half your week should be spent taking care of your existing clients.  And this INCLUDES the dedicated “Weekly Followup” calls that you’ll make every week to your sellers and active buyers.

2.  Developing New Clients

Obviously, one of the most important responsibilities you have is to work to generate a fresh set of lead opportunities for your business.  So part of your day, and your week, and your month, has to be dedicated to client development.  That could be any sort of lead generation activity, whatever you think will help you generate new business.

Here are examples of the activities you could do to develop new clients:

  • Contacting your Top 100 clients.
  • Contacting people in your Sphere of Support (outside the Top 100)
  • Preparing courtesy packages for FSBOs and Expireds.
  • Making courtesy calls to a neighborhood
  • Holding an open house.
  • Sending out direct mail.
  • Sending out promotional email.
  • Sending out R4L mailings
  • Posting information on social media for your client base.
  • Checking our your sphere’s activities on social media, and “liking” and commenting on them.
  • Professional networking.
  • Responding to internet inquiries (i.e., Leadrouter inquiries).
  • Following up with active leads.

How much time should you spend?  Figure about 25% of your week should be spent in lead development and cultivation.

3.  Professional Development

This is a broad category, but it basically refers to anything you do on a daily or weekly basis that helps you build your professional base of knowledge, but which is not dedicate to a particular client.  For example, you need to keep track of the inventory on the market, not for a specific buyer or seller but just because it’s your job to know what’s going on in your area.  And you need to work on developing and expanding your skills if you want to be a successful agent.

So here are some examples of productive “work” activities related to professional development:

  • Going to office meetings.
  • Going on tour.
  • Previewing active listings.
  • Reviewing new listing hot sheets.
  • Professional reading: news, blogs books, etc.
  • Attending training classes!
  • Reading market analysis.
  • Learning how to use technology.

How much time should you spend? Well, any time that you are not spending servicing active clients or generating new clients should obviously be dedicated to your own professional development.  We recommend 10-15% of your weekly time.  You should obviously be spending more time generating and servicing your clients, but you need to allocate a part of your week to building your own skills and knowledge.

So What’s NOT Productive Work?

Which obviously leads us to the question of what activities do not constitute “work” in our system.  It’s actually pretty easy.  Just ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I servicing an active client?  If “yes,” that’s work.  If “no,” then go on to question #2.
  2. Am I generating new business?  If “yes,” that’s work.  If “no,” then go on to question #3.
  3. Am I developing my skills or knowledge? If .“yes,” that’s work.  If “no,” then go on to the conclusion.

Conclusion: Why am I doing this activity if it’s not really “work?”

That’s what you need to ask yourself.  Why are you doing that activity if it doesn’t service your clients, build your business, or help you develop skills or knowledge?  The answer is that you’re likely just engaging in “work avoidance” because you have some generally difficult, complex, or even just unpleasant things to do, and you’d rather just take it easy.  Well, that’s fine.  Take the whole day off if you really want.  But don’t spend the day wasting your time and think that you’re actually “working.”  Because you’re not.

Here are some examples of things that do not constitute work, but which take up a lot of time in the average agent’s day:

  • Coffee klatch conversations with other agents.
  • Browsing facebook.
  • Personal emails.
  • Surfing the web.
  • Personal errands.
  • “Organizing your desk”
  • Complaining.

Now, some of those things are activities that you have to do (i.e., like your personal errands), and some of them are perfectly harmless (i.e., chatting with agents). And it might be that spending time in these types of activities helps you focus the rest of your day – after all, we all benefit from taking a break now and then.

But the key is this: they’re not “work.”  So don’t spend your day doing them and think that you got actual “work” done.  After all, your whole day should not be a “break.”  A break from what?

Go to Part Two Here.