AgentIndustry Voices

12 steps to turn off the stress in real estate

What to let go of and what to keep when you are time-starved and overwhelmed

There’s an old saying: “If you’re not controlling your time, someone or something else always will.” One of the most common questions we get from podcast listeners and coaching clients is about controlling their time while working in real estate.

They may ask something like, “I feel out of control with my time. I’m spending a lot of time chasing after scarce listings for my buyers, negotiating multiple offers on my listings, and then putting out fires on my pending deals. How can I get back into control?”

So what’s OK to stop doing, and what must you never drop when you’re feeling out of control? Here’s what to temporarily let go of and what to keep when you are time-starved and overwhelmed. Turn that stress into success by making great decisions and acting on them.

“It’s not the daily increase but the daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.” – Bruce Lee

1. Prioritize a mindset check. Are you really that busy, or are you just disorganized?

Take time to get real about what you’re managing. Sometimes just dedicating a day or two to getting a grip is all you need. Don’t tell yourself you’re “overwhelmed.” Shift to an affirmation that you are “surrounded by opportunity.” Isn’t that more accurate?

When you do this step first, you’ll realize that your state of “overwhelm” is temporary rather than a lifestyle.

2. Pursue new, qualified appointments. Proactive lead generation cannot stop.

This is the first thing that agents drop when they get even a tiny bit busy, but you must actively pursue new, qualified appointments every single workday.

This is the most important action you take each day, whether you have pending transactions or not, and whether you have active listings or not. On every call, whether it’s a home inspector, lender, a past or pending client, ask: “Who do you know who could use my help buying or selling real estate?”

3. Make the commitment to a minimum standard of contacts every workday.

Refer to our previous podcasts about how to list and sell 23 homes in 2023, as well as lead generation from best to worst.

To let you in on a secret, the quintessential top-producer (and up-and-coming top producer) arch nemesis is getting busy and then dropping the ball on virtually everything else. It’s the number one reason agents experience feast or famine. And no, it doesn’t have to be that way!

4. Deadlines cannot be ignored or procrastinated.

You can lose a deal by having misunderstandings with the other side or losing track of time. Remember that people scan through DocuSign without really realizing what they’re signing. YOU can’t be part of that.

Use a transaction coordinator if this is getting out of control. Don’t screw up earnest money deposits, contingency releases, or inspection dates just because you’re behind. Get clarity and/or get help!

5. Keep your visual accountability or white boards updated.

This cannot be ignored or put off. In order to know if you are on track, ahead, or behind, update these daily. Don’t ignore your boards just because you feel like you’re currently on track or ahead. Not tracking your business is what will make you behind in a matter of days or weeks.

There’s a rule in aviation called the One in Sixty Rule. When a plane veers off course by just one degree, it misses its target destination by one mile for every 60 miles it’s flown.

You’re the plane. Stay on course! Visual accountability is the dashboard of your business.

6. Take a break from posting on social media — with a few exceptions.

Let it go, let it go! (Mostly.)

You should still post your “coming soon” real estate listings and your just-launched listings. Post your client testimonials, as well as your “wanted” postings looking for inventory for your own buyer(s).

But if it’s not directly connected to those items, you can let your posts go until the dust settles. You don’t have to spend hours searching for content that’s not in support of your actual work.

7. Lead with proactive lead generation.

You are either self-employed or self-unemployed each day based on the actions you take. The things agents avoid the most are the same things that are most efficient and most profitable.

Proactive lead generation is your number one job. Without it, nothing else happens. You’ll have no leads to follow up on, no presentations, no deals to negotiate, and no closings.

The answer to all stress in real estate is to take a new listing. Do it immediately. Your financial, emotional, and spiritual well-being all depend on it when you are earning your living in this business. All good things come from listings.

8. Stop pursuing less-than-motivated or non-responsive leads.

Let them go! If you did a good job with your lead follow-up before you lost control of your schedule, and those leads just aren’t responding, chances are they’re not real leads anyway.

Real buyers are responsive; they call you as soon as they see the right house. They update you about their financing, and they send you listings they’ve seen online.

Real sellers are also responsive and easy to schedule a listing appointment with. They are cleaning, packing, and staging their home. If your leads aren’t acting like this, they’re not ready to transact. Just say “next!”

This is an especially hard lesson for new real estate agents who don’t have the experience to know the difference. Whether you’re new, newer or experienced, using buyer and seller pre-qualification scripts will cure this issue!

“Your greatest asset is your earning ability. Your greatest resource is your time.” – Brian Tracy

9. Your fitness and nutrition routine cannot suffer when you’re busy.

Change your routine instead of skipping it.

If you can’t find time for your normal workout at the gym, replace it with a Saturday morning workout or a nighttime yoga class. Don’t delete, just modify. You need your energy and it’s a great place to find new leads. It’s also a great way to work off the stress you’re feeling.

10. Set a deadline for a return to your normal schedule.

Of course, this assumes you have a normal schedule. Don’t make your “slammed schedule” a new way of life. The dust will settle in your real estate career, and you’ll get back into control, but be clear with yourself when this will happen.

11. Furiously fast lead follow-up can never, ever stop.

The worst thing you can do is have someone call you and find that your voicemail is full. The second worst thing is that they leave you a message, text, or an email and they don’t hear from you for days, weeks, or ever

Don’t complain about feast and famine in real estate if you’re not furiously fast on all forms of lead follow-up. Answering your phone goes hand-in-hand with this rule because it eliminates some of the voicemail checking. Half of those calls can be handled on the spot.

12. Don’t neglect your family.

It’s not OK to neglect the most important people in your life. If you’re like most people, you get busy, snippy, and neglectful. Don’t make your stress into their stress.

If you want your family to support you, show gratitude every day and explain to them what you’re doing and how the family will benefit.

“Daddy’s super busy with new transactions, but I’ll have a lot more time in just a few days. Let’s plan what to do this weekend, OK?” Or: “You do your homework while I make a few calls and then we’ll watch a movie.”

Tim and Julie Harris host a podcast for real estate professionals. Tim and Julie have been real estate coaches for more than two decades, coaching the top agents in the country through different types of markets.