Since having had two children I’ve often been approached by other Realtors with (or expecting) young families about continuing to work when you have little ones at home. Although I wish I could tell them I had the magic formula figured out, I don’t. Frankly, I don’t think it’s something we ever solve completely. Work/life balance is a continuous quest that changes and evolves as our life does.
Although I may not have the magic formula, I have worked hard to keep up with my career, volunteering and community involvement, while still being the best mother I can to my children. So here are one busy Realtor mom’s tips and tricks on how to balance it all.
Choose your business: When I started in real estate I was more then happy to run the road night after night with unqualified buyers in the hopes that maybe, just maybe a deal would stick. That quickly changed when I had kids. I knew that I didn’t want to be out night after night, away from my children, so I made a decision to change how I operate. I decided to focus on being a listing agent, and this has had a significant impact on the number hours I spend out of the house in the evening. I still work with buyers, of course, but I also spend a lot more time qualifying them and determining if we are an appropriate fit. The end result is that I spend a lot less time out in the evenings away from family running the roads.
Electronic signatures: If you’re not using electronic signatures stop what you’re doing and sign up for a program immediately. Electronic signatures have been the single biggest efficiency gain in my business in the 9 years I’ve traded real estate. Think about the time it takes to drive to a client’s house, meet with them to sign paper work, drive home, and then scan/fax the documents; you are looking at a minimum of an hour for signatures, and often more. In the past month I’ve used electronic signatures ~30 times, which has saved me at least 30 hours. Over the past year I’ve saved hundreds of hours of time and money, and most importantly, allowed more time for other aspects of my business and family. If that’s not enough of a reason to start using electronic signatures, then know this: clients love them. They don’t want you at their house at 11:00pm at night signing a fulfillment any more then you want to be there.
Time off: Yes you can actually have time off in real estate. Although we all know we are never really “off” and often fielding phone calls from the beach it’s important to make time for your family and self. Every week I take off either a day or half day for uninterrupted family time. Its typically a Sunday but can fluctuate depending on the requests that come in from clients. It was surprising how easy it became to make my bookings on only one day of the weekend or in just the afternoon or the morning. This allows for me to take my kids on an outing or just have a lazy Sunday morning with them.
Get a little help from your friends: If you’re on a team or have relatives in the business find ways to trade off with each other to cover showings, open houses etc. I myself am a solo agent so have another agent I work with that can jump in to help from time to time. If I’m finding I have too many buyers, I’ll refer someone out. It’s important to have a good working relationship with someone you can trust, who will take good care of your clients. Kids get sick and they have an impeccable ability to do so at the worst possible times. So it’s important to have back-up support when you need it.
Establish your “Squad”: I’ve been pregnant during the spring of two very busy markets and I didn’t slow down. I did deals until I gave birth and was back at it within a couple weeks. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without my Squad. Family, friends, and my husband that help hold down the fort on the home front. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and while I do not think it takes an entire village, when you’re self-employed support systems are essential. Be it a neighbor, close friend, or family its essential to have a good support system backing you for those late night negotiations.
Although I may not have all the answers, I’m continuously looking for new efficiencies in my business so that I can build the life that works for me and my family. I encourage everyone to support each other in finding ways to work towards the magic balance in your own life.