Busy REALTORS® can find it challenging to carve out time for their personal lives. After all, the hours are often long and they work on days when the general public is relaxing or celebrating a holiday; there are quick turnarounds on offer deadlines; and the phone can ring at any time of day or night. The Edge newsletter talked to three Ontario REALTORS® to discover how they balance work and personal time.
Peter Butler, a Port Dover REALTOR® with six years of experience in the business, says he “totally believes it is possible to have work-life balance, even though real estate can be an always-on profession. It’s necessary to have balance, not only in your business life, but also in your personal life.”
For Butler, who turned to real estate after a military career, the key is planning. “As much as you plan and organize all aspects of your workday, you must also plan and organize your family time,” Butler says. “One is just as important as the other.”
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Butler spends an hour each Sunday organizing his entire week, and family time goes into his calendar first. “I schedule family time first and everything else is scheduled around that,” he says. “Of course, any schedule is subject to change if emergencies come up.”
"As much as you plan and organize all aspects of your workday, you must also plan and organize your family time."
Jay Lough Hayes, a Peterborough REALTOR® with 30 years in the business, calls herself “a workaholic,” but still makes time for activities that are important to her. “I enjoy volunteering in my community, curling, singing and being creative,” she says. “At Christmas I run my own charity named “Santas for Peterborough Seniors,” so very little real estate work gets completed throughout December.
“My husband and I have a standing date night on Tuesday, which is cheap night at the movies; we quite often meet for dinner and a movie. I view leisure time as being just as important as work time, and I book leisure time off as an appointment.”
Costas Kivelos, a Toronto REALTOR® who left the construction industry seven years ago to work in real estate, says achieving work-life balance can be challenging, but “it’s all about time management and availability. The key is to be available to the clients at all times and make them feel as if they’re your only clients.”
Kivelos says doing this successfully comes with experience. Now that he has a wife and two young children, he has created a team of younger REALTORS® so that he has other professionals on whom he can rely to keep the business running smoothly.
"On Christmas morning, my client called around 10 a.m., wanting to show his wife a house."
“This approach is win-win,” says Kivelos. “The newer people are looking for a mentor and, in a year they can gain the experience it took me seven years to obtain. They get a share of the commission, depending on how much they assist me, and meanwhile it has freed up a lot of my time. I can see my kids and have more time to myself and with my wife. I end up making more money because the overall volume of deals increases and the quality of service is improved – there’s no waiting.”
Lough Hayes has teamed up with a broker, focusing on buyer clients, to make her own work-life balance easier to achieve. However, another weapon in her REALTOR® arsenal is the ability to say no. She recalls a situation when she should have said no, illustrating how important that skill can be.
“On Christmas morning, my client called around 10 a.m., wanting to show his wife the house, which was a Christmas present he had bought for her,” Lough Hayes says. “I said no immediately! … He went on and on about needing to fulfil his condition about his wife seeing the house …With all of my family’s gifts already opened and breakfast out of the way, I called the listing REALTOR® to ask for permission for a showing. She said I was nuts but gave me the okay.
“I met my clients at the house. Much to my surprise, this guy had gone to a craft store, bought every scrap of 12-inch wide red ribbon, and literally gift-wrapped the house. It was very thoughtful and eye-catching, to say the least. But when his wife walked in, not quite past the threshold, she looked at him and said ‘I hate it! Let's go!’ Talk about a letdown! I returned home to glares from my own family for working on Christmas day. Meanwhile, this couple separated a few weeks later.”
Online technology offers another way to make the life of a REALTOR® easier and avoid wasting precious time, says Butler. “There are great tools out there to be used,” he says. “I use Google tools – you can add the calendar to your phone. I also use Evernote. I love paper and pencil, but I can take a photo of my notes and put it into Evernote, where I create notebooks for each listing.”
Kivelos can’t live without his smartphone. “My cellphone is my Holy Grail,” he says. “I need to be accessible 24/7. You also need an iPad or a laptop. When you’re meeting a client, a new listing might pop up, or you might see a home for sale as you are driving down the street and you need to document it.”
Even with all these strategies and tools at hand, burnout is still possible.
“We all experience exhaustion at times,” says Butler. “Our systems aren’t perfect and in a busy spring market, it’s easier to become overwhelmed. We just have to remember to put our personal time into our schedules. As the author of The Wealthy Barber says, pay yourself first.”
Advice for achieving work-life balance
- Develop systems for everything, including listings and clients.
- Understand the difference between business and busy-ness.
- Work hard every day – but not necessarily for eight hours.
- When things get busy, learn to use the talents of those around you.
- Look at the big picture and the long term: Build relationships rather than relying on quick hits.
- Allow yourself to feel good about time off, because you’ve earned it. Sleep in late once in a while.
- Find a hobby and schedule time for it as an appointment.
Story by Elaine Smith.
Sources: Peter Butler, Jay Lough Hayes, Costas Kivelos.
Editorial Policy: The REALTOR® EDGE newsletter is produced 11 times a year by the Ontario Real Estate Association. The newsletter aims to provide practical and useful news and information about the real estate industry to members of the association. The opinions expressed in the newsletter are not necessarily those of the publisher. The newsletter welcomes submissions from the real estate community, including letters to the editor, opinion pieces, events and news. The newsletter reserves the right to edit, based on space restrictions and/or suitability, and/or to refuse submitted material for inclusion in the newsletter without reason. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without the express written permission of the publisher, OREA, is prohibited. Contents are copyright of the Ontario Real Estate Association.
Editor: Mary Ann Gratton
Contributors to this issue: Elaine Smith, Merv Burgard, Mary Ann Gratton, Robert Hulley
Web Editor: Shade Lapite; Web Specialist: Damond Rawls
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