Selling Soulfully with Jennifer Allan


101 Ways to Manage Your Time (Well, not 101, but some really good ones)

Crazy busy

Had a fantastic show last night in the SWS Virtual Studio on the subject of Time Management for Real Estate Agents. I wasn't really expecting a huge turn-out - after all, managing your time is not nearly as sexy a topic as real estate commissions, sphere of influence marketing or prospecting to expired listings! But apparently I was wrong! We had over 250 agents register for the show and over half show up which is a fantastic show-up ratio!

Anyway, I had a blast with my guest, Mike Baird of The A Team Real Estate Professionals in Northeast Tennessee. We traded tips for about 75 minutes; we agreed on some and not on others, which is just dandy... there are many paths to success so hopefully the audience was able to learn a thing or two or three or four that will help them both in their business and personal lives.

At the end of the show, I asked the audience to vote on their "favorite" tips of the evening... and here are the results:

Favorite-est Tip #1: Do Your Quickie Tasks FIRST
Every morning, pile everything up on your desk into one pile. Go thru the pile one item at a time and when you get to an item that will take five minutes or less to do, DO IT, regardless of its importance. Do the same thing with your to-do list. In half an hour, you might be able to wipe out half (or more) of your to-do list which is incredibly satisfying, and will clear up your mind so you can focus on the bigger fires and projects.

Favorite-est Tip #2: Know when to Decline The Monkey

Based on a series I did last year here at AR, Declining the Monkey means that you are able to respectfully delegate responsibility to your clients when it's appropriate to do so. You can read more about the Art of Monkey Declining here:

Favorite-est Tip #3: Put your "wish-list" on a white board

That this tip was so popular surprised me since I almost took it out of the show. What it means is to make a list of projects you'd really like to get done, but don't know when you'll find the time. Write this list on a dry-erase board, and hang the board somewhere out of your immediate view. Look at your board every week or so (any more often and it'll just frustrate you) and you may be surprised how many of these wish-list projects ARE getting done!

Favorite-est  Tip #4: Use a (paper-based) planner
A real estate agent without a planner is a frazzled real estate agent indeed. C'mon, we have a lot of important things to remember to do (our clients are counting on us!) and sticky-notes posted on our computer screen, dashboard and bathroom mirror won't cut it. GET a planner and learn to use it and love it. And unless you're really really technologically-inclined, a paper-based planner (that is, a physical planner that isn't electronic) will probably work better for you. Don't feel pressured to learn that fancy calendar feature on your Smart Phone if you don't wanna.

Favorite-est Tip #5: Files Are Not Artwork

Your client files are where you store pieces of paper that frankly, you'll probably never need again. Don't waste hours of your time trying to make your client files works of art. As long as the piece of paper you might need someday is IN the right file, you'll be able to find it. But chances are, once that transaction closes, you'll never open the file again.

Other tips from the show...

  • Color-coordinate your scheduled blocks of time.
  • Plan ahead and make sure you schedule in time for your personal life, including days off.
  • Spend 30 minutes a day on "connection time" (i.e. staying in touch with your SOI).
  • Buy and use manilla folders for any project with more than once piece of paper
  • If you're a control freak about your business, consider hiring a personal assistant to help you with domestic duties instead of a real estate assistant.
  • Consider recruiting brand new agents to "intern" for you to help them learn the business and help you get things done.
  • Don't be afraid to refer business to other agents, and FIND those agents to refer to before you need them.
  • Do the ugly stuff on your list first.
  • Always take care of your clients as your first priority. Prospecting can wait.
  • Use an inbox and an outbox.
  • Don't be afraid to say "no" when clients make unreasonable demands of your time. They will usually accommodate your schedule.

Good stuff, huh?



It's Here!


The More Fun You Have Selling Real Estate, the More Real Estate You Will Sell! 
(True Story)
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Comment balloon 55 commentsJennifer Allan-Hagedorn • September 23 2010 10:49AM


Great Tips, I'm not sure if its just a guy thing or what, but lists seem to be the only thing that work for me.  If I can cross it out on paper, I'm MUCH more likely to get it done!

Posted by Curt Baumgarth, CDPE Realtor Serving the Valley of the Sun. 480 26 (Century 21 All Stars) over 9 years ago

Jennifer - Well your right ... there's not 101, but the ones that you have given us carry real time-saving power .... I just need to spend more time with the monkey-ones  ...  thanks for sharing.

Posted by Jack Mossman - The Nines Team at Keller Williams in Stockton, The Nines Team at Keller Williams in Stockton (The Nines Team At Keller Williams) over 9 years ago

Jennifer, it was a great seminar and learned a lot!! I already blocked my afternoon to go to library and pick up the book I have being wanting to read for a long time. I will take a 30 min time off before kids are back from school. Thank You!!!

Posted by Ritu Desai, Virginia Realtor-Fairfax/Loudoun/PW-703-625-4949 (Samson Properties) over 9 years ago

Wonderful stuff! And I'm sorry I missed the show! I also need to work on that monkey-thing. There's this line between what is our "responsibility" as a "good real estate agent" and what we can delegate to our clients! As for that paper it in the mail yet???  :)

Posted by Sue Gabriel over 9 years ago

I listened to the show last night and it really helped! I started on the "5 minute or less" tip and now I can see the woodgrain on my desk! Thanks, Jennifer.

Posted by Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty, 601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell (Front Gate Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Pat - that's GREAT ! I need to do that RIGHT NOW. Back in a sec...

Sue - Oops - thanks for the reminder... good thing my mail comes late in the day!

Ritu - You are very welcome! And thanks for your nice note last night.

Jack - Yep - The Art of Monkey Declining will save you GOBS of time!

Curt -Nope, not a guy thing. I LOVE LOVE LOVE lists.

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) over 9 years ago

Jennifer,  You have provided some clear cut details that I think may help me focus on the specifics as I tend to get way to involved in the big picture scheme!  And, that's when the pile of "to do" gets out of control!

Posted by Deborah "Dee Dee" Garvin, C2 Financial (C2 Financial) over 9 years ago

IT's NOT MY MONKEY!  That is one of my favorites!

All great tips... Especially the planner piece, hard to believe people dont have one... I switched years ago to a palm then to the BB calendar and cant believe I ever used paper, but you are right, it doesnt have to be electronic, but we all DO need a calendar of some sort.

Posted by Robert Rauf (HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ)) over 9 years ago

Jennifer, these are great tips.  I tried moving away from the paper planner but it's not working really well for me so I'm going back.  I love the white board idea!

Posted by Lisa Hicks, Serving Central and Southern Maine (Hoang Realty) over 9 years ago

I use my Blackberry calendar - but I've often thought about going back to a paper planner.  There is nothing like the ease of looking at a larger format that you can scribble onto. 

Good tips for the time-management challenged.

Posted by Margaret Goss, Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate (Baird & Warner Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Thanks for the de-briefing Jennifer.  I was on the "less than half" side of the ratio.

Posted by Kevin J. May, Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida (Florida Supreme Realty) over 9 years ago

As with Pat I started the 5 min plan this morning. It worked great and found a few things that were hiding on my desk. I went one step further and set my stove timer for one hour and when it was finished so was I, at least for today. Thks again Jennifer and Mike

Posted by Mike Boyce over 9 years ago

Thanks for the review of last nights webinar!  Great stuff.  Like Margaret I too use my Blackberry - but will start "visualizing" my To Do List with a written one as well. :)  Great stuff - TIME is MONEY!!

Posted by Kelly Cordova-Armer, Selling with Soul amidst the Utah Mountains! (Cornerstone Real Estate Professionals ) over 9 years ago


I was bummed I couldn't tune it.  I was sitting at a title company waiting and dealing with a lender who was not truthful with my buyers.  I'll have to catch it next time.  Thank you for all your hard work

Posted by Kim Boekholder Utah Real Estate, Broker, Results Real Estate (Results Real Estate 801.580.5624) over 9 years ago

I'm so tickled that the 5-minute idea is such a hit! I might have to do a whole blog on that tip alone (if I can get it done in five minutes or less, that is).

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) over 9 years ago

Jennifer ~ I've always been excellent at time management. That was, of course, until I became a Realtor and started performing most of my work from home. Since then...not so pretty! I've bookmarked and will refer back to it often...when I can make the time, that is!

Posted by Chris Dugger, Louisville REALTOR (Real Estate Marketplace - Louisville KY) over 9 years ago

Declining the monkey is kind of like my old P³ philosophy. P*$$ Poor Planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.

Posted by Mike Saunders (Lanier Partners) over 9 years ago

These are great tips!  I am especially fond of #4 (I'm a dinosaur and refuse to use the calendar on my phone) and #5 (My last few files are a mess, but it's all in there!).

Posted by Shelley Rowton, ABR, RSPS - (512) 507-5779 MoveToRealty of Austin (Move To Realty) over 9 years ago

Great tips - I am sorry I missed the show, but I was not able to make it last night.  Is this a recording we'll get via Club SWS?  Thanks!

Posted by Susan Haughton, Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results. (Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545) over 9 years ago

I've switched from a paper planner to an electronic planner and back a couple of times.  Just can't seem to decide which one works best.  Shouldn't this be an easy decision?  Is there something wrong with me?

Posted by Brad Chubbs, Serving military members, first-time buyers, and h (RE/MAX Pembroke Realty Ltd.) over 9 years ago

Jennifer - These are excelent tips.  I definitely need to improve in this area.  Thx so much for sharing. 

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 9 years ago
Jennifer - Despite my love of all things electronic and gadget like, I still find my use of a planner works best for me. I fight it everyday and think of all the electro-calendars I have at my fingertips everyday, but the reality is that when I write it down, I'm more likely to rememer it, see it, and do it.
Posted by Matt Stigliano (Kimberly Howell Properties (210) 646-HOME) over 9 years ago

"Favorite-est  Tip #4: Use a (paper-based) planner"

Like Matt above, I have to have the visual of PAPER! Last week my assistant cracked up when she noticed a couple of post-it notes attached to my iphone!

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Hi Jennifer - sorry I missed the call. I'm on your list, so I'm sure I'll be informed when the replay is available. There are really great tips in your post - I also have a 15-minute Friday, when I take a few minutes to quickly scroll through my TTD list and do the things that can be done in 15 minutes or  less.

Posted by Jackie -, Learn to leverage technology to get more done. (770.498.7333) over 9 years ago

Okay, so... I'm in meltdown mode right now. TOOOOO much to DOOOOOOO... tooooo little time...

Deep breath... practice what you preach, Jennifer!

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) over 9 years ago


I love that you can communicate all of this in such an amusing way! Thank you so much. I love the Declining The Monkey tip! Clients should do certain things for themselves. They know what follow up questions they need to find out. It's their money!

Posted by Ellen Mantel Pfann (McDevitt Sotheby's International Realty) over 9 years ago

I prefer the paper planners and having checklists. My partner (girlfriend) makes a new to-do list for me every day - sort of the 'Business Honey-Do List'  :)


Posted by Mark Montross, Listing and Buyer Specialist (Catamount Realty Group) over 9 years ago

Jennifer ~ great tips, some I use already - paper planner - just cant get my head around the electronic ones. I like to schedule my days also knowing what's to come before and after that appointment.PLUS- the batteries never die and I cant sync improperly and wipe the entire thing. Thanks again!

Posted by Diane M. Phillips Realtor 443-286-4365, Specializing in Carroll Co., MD (Frankly Real Estate Inc.) over 9 years ago

Love the list, Jennifer. Your favorite-est tip #1 is my favorite-est. Getting those small tasks out of the way first will save you a headache in the long run!

Posted by Aaron Seekford, Ranked Top 1% Nationwide 703-836-6116 (Arlington Realty, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Time block routine tasks and learn to just say NO!  Love the old-school planner...been using them for years and will never change that way of managing my schedule.  At-a-Glance is where it's at!!

Posted by Lisa Moroniak, SFR - Short Sale & Foreclosure Certified (Keller Williams Realty | Northern Virginia | 703.635.0388) over 9 years ago

I would add to know yourself and your productivity windows.  I do best early morning so put some of the harder tasks there; more energy to get them done.

Cindy in Indy

Posted by Cindy Marchant, "Cindy in Indy" , Realtor, Fishers Real Estate (Keller Williams Indy NE 317-290-7775 over 9 years ago

I need a planner but for me it can't be paper. That just means that it gets buried under the other mounds of paper on my desk. And now that I've just admitted that, I'm going to shame myself into doing something about it.


Yes, that's a potholder sitting there from where I ate my lunch yesterday at my desk directly from the hot pot.

Posted by Julia Odom, Chattanooga Homes for Sale (Select Realty Professionals) over 9 years ago
Great tips for time saving! I do most of these things already. I especially like the "go through the pile" item because that's what I do every morning. I get a lot of things done and out of the way before it is generally appropriate to start making calls to clients and prospects.
Posted by Anonymous over 9 years ago

very good stuff, 

the paper planner is great!  Even though my partner and I communicate our events with google calendar; there is just something great about having a planner right there in your hand.  My favorite - is a planner that you can open and see the entire month; not just the week.  I really need to see the whole month - it just makes me feel better!

thanks so much for the great tips!


Posted by Kim Weis & Kelly Zarda (Platinum Realty, LLC) over 9 years ago

Thanks for the Timely Post!  I have training for my agents next week on Time Management.

Posted by Jerry Morse, BBA,GRI (The Morse Company) over 9 years ago

I clicked on it hoping to read 101 ideas, and I am grateful their want's that many.  My A.D.D. would have kicked in. :)  Thanks for the Great article

Posted by Jason Piedrasanta (Seth Campbell Realty Group) over 9 years ago

Great Post Jennifer - I'm a fan of #4 - I'm a paper planner myself,  I carry my planner with me at all times, can't be on the phone and write out your time via your phone planner.  If you buy a real nice planner, you'll tend to keep up with it better.  I've seen agents use notebooks as a planner????? but I guess that's their choice and I guess the most important things is their keeping up with dates and times. 

Posted by Graziella Bruner, Associate Broker - Serving Wayne & Oakland County (NCS Premier Real Estate) over 9 years ago

I agree about the PAPER planner!!  My BlackBerry is great for on the go stuff, but my paper planner is my "go to"!!  It's much easier to see your week or month at a glance.

Posted by Stephanie Arnett, SRS, IMSD, Broker Associate, REALTOR (ERA Town & Campus Realty) over 9 years ago

Jennifer I always love your posts - this one racks!  I committed to pulling an idea a day from AR to improve my business and this is a piece of it.  Thanks for the paper planner shout out - I caould not agree more!  You rock1

Posted by Peggy Noel, Bouchard, ABR, CDPE, SFR (RE/MAX Commonwealth) over 9 years ago

Lots of great information, I do like having my planner be a tangible item I can work with and having with me.  It really helps out.

Posted by Morgan Evans, LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) over 9 years ago

THANK YOU Jennifer for #4!  People look at me like I have 3 eyes when I say I use a paper planner.  To me, it works much better than your phone or electronic organizer.  My brain just works better when I see it on paper and can scribble quick note or check something off.

Posted by Phil Stevenson, CRMP, "Mortgage Nerd" in Miami, Florida and Texas (PS Mortgage Lending 305-791-4874 or 888-845-6630) over 9 years ago

Excellent tips, Jennifer. Thank you so much for sharing! This is the part of Active Rain I love the most. Agents selflessley sharing with one another and learning from one another. So good....

Posted by Virginia OnullConnor, Realtor - Temecula, Anza, SoCal (Realtor®, Photographer, Artist) over 9 years ago

There are many new young agents in my office, who are very tech-savvy and I thought I was really way behind the times in using a paper planner.  Jennifer, your post and the many comments above are re-assuring that I am OK and on the right path.

Posted by Rosalind Nicholas, Toronto Condo Real Estate Agent, Toronto ON (RE/MAX Condos Plus Corporation, Brokerage) over 9 years ago

I love the tips and how you communicated them. Very well done and does not take alot of time to implement. Thanks

Posted by Lori Bowers, The Lori Bowers Group over 9 years ago

I would like to think I have gotten better at this over the years, but there is always room for improvement! 

Posted by Catherine Ulrey, Equestrian and Acreage Property Specialist (Keller Williams Capital City) over 9 years ago

Jennifer, what a  wonderful post! I love the power of  a timer, MANY tasks take way less time that I thought they will, especially when you measure it and have a proof on the timer, how long (actually short!) it took... 

I love paper planner. To those who cannot decide - I'd use both for a while, a smart phone and a paper one, and see which works best. Besides, there are unexpected disasters, when having all info in a different source (say paper versus an electronic device) can save you big time. 

Posted by Anna Tolstoy (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 9 years ago

Regarding your Tip #4, using a paper-based planner:  Just yesterday I came to the conclusion that I need to start using a paper-based planner.  A few months ago I decided to stop using Outlook as my mail client, and switch to an online client so I could access my email from any computer.  Then, for months, I looked at different online calendars, and found them all lacking.  So, I am making the switch.  I'll have a simple calendar planner that I can take with me wherever I go, and not be dependent on the Internet.

Posted by Bob Willis, Orange County & L.A. County Real Estate Agent (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties) over 9 years ago

Jennifer, great thoughts. I like to do the IMPORTANT tasks first. Hopefully I can find some quickie important ones.

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) over 9 years ago

I constantly jot things down; to-do lists, domain ideas, songs to look up, etc. Love the written list.

Posted by Eric Michael, Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519 (Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI) over 9 years ago

~Jennifer you are awesome! and I read every word of this post! thanks!

Posted by Patty Luther, Lewiston ID Real Estate, Idaho-Washington (RE/MAX Rock-n-Roll Realty) over 9 years ago

Good tips and I could use a bit of a refresher! 

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 9 years ago

Hi Jen,

I find that if a task migrates 3 days or so and I haven't gotten to it, it's not happenning, It's dead.

Difficult for control freaks, but it's a time saver for me.

Posted by Claude Labbe, Realty for Your Busy Life (Real Living | At Home) over 9 years ago

I listened to the audio 3 times while cleaning up my chaos!  My favorite is tip is your tip # 1 too.  I really liked the "Visual" of the written calendar, to do list and dry erase board and I liked how he called his database connections.

Posted by Christine Pappas - REALTOR®, eXp Realty - Because Experience Matters (eXp Realty) over 9 years ago

That referring to other agents is a powerful one...especially as we will have confidence in their abilities.

Posted by Li Read, Caring expertise...knowledge for you! (Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring)) over 9 years ago

Jennifer - The wish list white board is a very good idea.  Visualize, complete.

Posted by Wendy Rulnick, "It's Wendy... It's Sold!" (Rulnick Realty, Inc.) over 9 years ago

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