In real estate, we often focus on business, bottom lines, leads and sales — what we often forget to focus on is our own well-being and that of the people who work around us.
In March, we introduce our new mental health series with an article that provides a unique angle on battling stress and achieving work-life balance.
The term ‘work-life balance’ represents an ideal state between work, leisure, family time and anything else you would like to fit into your life.
Most of us feel we don’t achieve it and it continues to be a distant hope while we buckle down and do the hours we need to get by.
And what hope is there when you work in real estate, a tough job with a 24/7 commitment to meet client needs and build your pipeline? Being available at all hours and balancing many competing priorities takes its toll and that elusive ‘balance’ seems to disappear in the distance.
But balance is possible, you just need to think a little differently.
Balance, like stress, is in the eye of the beholder. And both are governed by feeling in control of what happens to you every day, rather than feeling like you are the victim of unstoppable forces.
Below, we discuss five ways to think differently so you feel in control of a happier and more balanced life.
- Stop investing in the belief that Real Estate is a uniquely tough industry.
It’s true, agents work very hard and have to balance many competing priorities while being available outside of traditional work hours.
But all service industries present challenges to achieving a happy balance between work and personal or family life.
Our 24/7 attachment to smartphones and tablets has made it more practical to remain available round the clock and as a result, we are slaves to our work, responding to calls, messages and emails at all hours of the day.
By blaming the role, we allow ourselves to feel out of control, like there is nothing we can do and we must accept this job cannot lead to a balanced life.
The reality is most jobs require constant checking of emails, taking calls in the evening, doing a bit of work on weekends.
If you understand many jobs require a more creative way to split your time between work and leisure, you can approach it as a challenge to address, not a problem you can’t fix.
- Identify and define what ‘balance’ means to you.
Balance in work is no longer attending the office between nine to five before returning home, it now means different things to different people.
If you are a working mum, you need more flexibility for school runs, pickups and after school activities. But that means you have the capacity to step back into work mode at other times and do the things you need to do.
Work out what you need in your daily life and what balance means to you.
Whether you are a single parent, or you have a partner, work out the best times to devote to family and other times where you can do work. What would an ideal daily schedule look like? Do you need to check in with work or clients when you are away so you can feel more in control?
The important thing is to work out your schedule and what you will be happy with and then go about making it a reality.
- Strive for efficiency every day.
As an agent, you spend a lot of time with clients, so it is important to feel other aspects of your job are getting done.
There are many resources to help with time management and you can get tips and tricks from colleagues or from google. But it essentially comes down to planning your days.
Work out the tasks you need to do every day and every week and allocate time to them. Review your day before you start, know what your priorities are and know where your appointments sit in your day.
We all feel like we don’t have time to plan, but we all also know that without a little time planning every day, we tend to run around with scattered energy and we get less done.
A day that starts in a panic, tends to continue in a panic. A day that starts 15 minutes later but has clear priorities, will run smoother and keep you focused on the next thing to achieve.
- Communicate and work as a team.
Being a real estate agent often goes hand in hand with being an A type personality. This means being driven to succeed and focused on doing things for yourself.
One of the major contributors to stress and feeling out of control is poor communication and rarely relying on your colleagues. And yet, the very essence of a great place to work is one where everybody communicates openly, supports their colleagues and pulls together to make sure everybody succeeds.
It is hugely productive to keep your colleagues and clients updated on your availability and your deliverables. We often believe we need to be available for clients whenever they contact us, but the reality is it is an impossible standard we set for ourselves.
Being clear about when you are available, when you can deliver certain milestones and how you are willing to be flexible when it matters, will win you the respect of your colleagues and clients alike.
Nobody expects you to be a robot without a life to yourself. Being human, having a private life and needing to negotiate your time will make you more authentic in the eyes of those that interact with you.
If you are professional and deliver what you promise, you will be surprised how you can turn your work requirements towards your own ideal balance. You will also find colleagues will help you when you need it if you can help them in return at some other time. This is a constructive culture that can lead to better work-life balance for everybody you work with.
- Actively manage stress.
Stress comes from feeling out of control, alone and overwhelmed. The aim of getting stress under control is to proactively address and manage your source of stress, not simply react to it.
There are tried and tested techniques you can explore and implement to help you live a more emotionally-balanced life. Many people swear by getting more exercise, getting more sleep, meditating, decluttering, creating regular family dates, learning to say no and importantly, learning to ask for help.
The key to lowering stress levels is to actively manage stress and not wait until you are struggling.
You can guarantee stress will surface at some point so before it does, put stress-busting techniques into your day, make time for fun and relaxation and don’t wait and see if your work schedule leaves room for it.
Remember, your family, your health and your happiness are most important.
When we take control and actively manage and plan our days, it is possible to achieve balance. It is never helpful to think about outside forces controlling your days and wish those outside forces were different.
They won’t change, but you can.
Address your responsibilities, your requirements and your stresses and actively manage them to your advantage. Accept that sometimes, your days may get out of control but if you have plans in place and people to support you, you can turn any day into a productive one.
Thanks to Diana Terrones, MSc Psych, Business Consultant and Coach for sharing her expert guidance.