When was your last day off? I mean a true day off. Like, not checking your email 20 times and answering your phone every time it rings. Many agents I talk to can’t remember their last day off. So, let’s talk this through.
Why days off matter
Real estate is a unique industry, one in which we don’t get weekends off, as most people do. We have showings, open houses, and listing appointments on weekends, because that’s when our clients and the general public are taking their own days off. So, what’s wrong with powering through and working 7 days a week? Without taking time to replenish your energy, you will burn out. I’m speaking from experience. It’s easy to fall into the trap of working harder, not smarter, and when you’re not hitting your goals, the guilt around taking time off grows exponentially. Yet, the only way to avoid burn out is to take time off. Take time to not only rest and replenish your energy, but days off also serve to allow your brain to process everything going on in your life and in your business. This distance can provide clarity and can actually lead to tapping into your most creative and powerful ideas.
A few years ago, I started taking two-day retreats, alone, around my anniversary of getting into real estate. What I was doing without realizing it at the time was allowing myself to take a step back, regroup, and plan for the upcoming year. I would go to the beach, somewhere at least an hour from my home, and limit my work (checking email and voicemail) to one hour a day max. The rest of the time, I read novels, walked on the beach, journaled, took myself to dinner, and took lots of naps. What ended up happening, though, was my brain would explode with all these great ideas and ahas for the upcoming year and for my long-term future. At first, I fought these thoughts (I was supposed to be NOT working!). Then, I started embracing them. This is how I learned the power of getting away for a short breaks throughout the year. The irony is most people take two-day breaks all the time; they just call them weekends! A day off doesn’t need to be a two-day trip. Let me be clear about that. This concept, however, applies to a simple single day off, one during which you stay home and do the things that you enjoy, without feeling guilty about it. Cliché as it is, there’s a reason why they tell you on airplanes to put on your own oxygen mask first. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re not doing your families or clients any favors. You won’t be able to bring your best self to the rest of your life if you’re not prioritizing yourself.
Why we struggle to take days off
Vacation time is easy to protect. Typically, there are flights and hotels already booked and paid for. No one is going to cancel their week in Europe to go show a house to a buyer. Unlike vacations, the same cannot be said for days off. We may find it easy (or at least feasible) to plan a day off and put it in the calendar. Great! That’s the first step. The next step is the hardest part – protecting that day off. Why do we put ourselves last? Yes, we want to take care of our clients and families, yet we know how vital it is to take care of ourselves first, not last. It comes from fear. And that’s a natural feeling. We fear our clients will get upset with us (or fire us and find someone else) if we aren’t available 24 hours a day, every day. That’s just not the case. If you provide enough value for your clients, they will be loyal to you. If you set the expectation early on in the relationship, your clients won’t think twice if you’re not available to show a house at the exact time and date they request.
How to protect your days off
So, what do you do? Here are the tools I use to protect my days off:
1. Treat my days off as full-day appointments. It’s easy to look at the calendar and say: “oh I don’t have anything planned on Tuesday.” YES, YOU DO! You have a full-day appointment with yourself, and it must be treated with the same respect as any other appointment.
2. Set the expectations with my buyers at the buyer consult. I tell my buyers: “It’s important to me that you’re able to see the homes you want to see when you want to see them, so if I’m not available at that time, I will pay one of my trusted colleagues to be there in my place.” This is after setting the 24-hour notice expectation for showings, by the way. No buyer has taken issue with this; in fact, they appreciate me going out of my way to make it work for everyone.
3. Break up my days off into half-days off. Some weeks, it just won’t work to have an entire day off. When that happens, I’ll break it up and take two half-days off instead. Same thing is accomplished.
The bottom line
The bottom line is this: take care of yourself. Read your energy and plan days off accordingly. If you’re feeling drained or getting close to burn out, plan a day off ASAP and protect it fiercely and unapologetically. It’s not optional! It’s vital. This will take practice, and the more you do it, the easier it will become. I promise. After a while, you’ll be able to take a day or two off each and every week and never even come close to burning out.
Check out “Introverts in Real Estate” on Facebook, and let the group know how you’re doing!