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Focus on What’s Important to Find Balance and Be Productive

by Carol Weinrich Helsel

Balance_ThumbnailIt a widely held belief that women are better multi-taskers than are men. A 2013 study validated that hypothesis, showing men and women are equal in the time required to complete a single task, but for combined tasks, men are significantly slower—taking 77 percent longer, compared to women's 69 percent.
Hurrah for women... or maybe not.

Being good at multi-tasking does not make multi-tasking a good thing. Lola Andu of Grand Rapids, MI, admits to multi-tasking tendencies, which creates challenges with work-life balance. "Keeping balance in my life is the number one challenge," says Lola.

Lola_Thumbnail2014 National President Jo Kenney of Atlanta, GA agrees balance is important. "It's very easy to focus just on my clients, work and other commitments," says Jo. "All those activities make it easy to shirk off things for myself, such as time at the gym."

"Saying 'no' is my biggest challenge," says Shannon Buss of Newport, RI. Shannon wears many hats—agent, manager, partner and mother of two young children. "It's my personality. I've gotten better at focusing on what I most need to do, but it's still hard."

Many agents are busier now than since the pre-recession boom. It can be tempting to load up on the "work" side of things, letting the "life" side of work-life balance suffer. Maintaining a good balance between your work and your personal life is important—not only for you, personally, but also for your clients and your business. Knowing the right thing to do and doing the right thing however are... well, two different things.

Shannon_ThumbnailAs a REALTOR®, you are subject to many demands outside your control. To stay competitive and provide quality service, you may feel the need to be on call 24/7. Turn off the cell phone? Are you crazy?! That's how listings get lost and deals go awry. So what's a busy agent to do? Consider the following advice from fellow Council members on how to maintain a successful business without sacrificing important time with family and other non-work related activities.

thumbnail_jo1. Set limits. Kenny sets limits and tells her clients what they are. "My clients know I'm off after 7 pm, unless we're negotiating, and I don't show houses on Sunday mornings. I set these expectations with clients up front. If it's a real priority, I'll be there for them." Jo admits she's lost a couple clients over the years, but that's OK. "I'm not the right person for them." For those who struggle to set limits, Jo says, "Try it. If you do something for 66 days in a row, it becomes a habit."

2. Tackle the "tyranny" of your phone. Andu also sets expectations with clients—particularly around phone availability. "It's part of my presentation. I say, 'When I'm with you, I'm 100 percent focused on your needs. If you can't reach me, I may be with a client giving them the same curtesy.'" Lola's voice message provides an alternative number for emergencies. "The best advice I ever got was permission to turn off my phone. I provide better service to my clients when I can be prepared to talk to them and not have the constant distraction of phone calls and emails."

3. Have others hold you accountable. Buss sets a plan for herself. "I'm constantly working to keep myself on goal and to focus on what’s most important." To avoid the temptation of getting off track and losing balance, Shannon asks others to help her be accountable. "I share my plan with my assistant and she helps me focus on priorities. At home, my kids keep me accountable. If I set iPad limits for them and they see me on my iPhone late at night, I'm not setting a good example."

The best methods for maintaining a healthy work-life balance differ for everyone. Try various strategies to see what works for you. Lola, Jo and Shannon all admit they still have to work at it, but it's worth it. Having a good balance can be a real motivator and a boost to your business. It will also give you time and energy for the things that truly fulfill you.


Carol Weinrich Helsel is a freelance writer with 24 years of experience in non-profit organization management. She is owner of Pastiche Communications, specializing in helping companies meet their marketing and communication goals. Learn more at www.pastichecommunications.com.

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