Want to Be a Top Producer? Then Create Balance in Your Work and Life

By Jerry Pujals

We’ve all heard the saying that all work and no play makes Jack (or Jill) a dull person. Well, that saying is not just a cute statement of life. It actually means that a person who never takes time off from work becomes both boring and bored. So if you opt to work seven days a week, twelve hours a day, you’re doing yourself more harm than good.

No matter what part of the country you work in, no matter what your background, no matter what your family or financial situation, you must have a balance between your personal and professional life. In fact, it’s impossible to produce at high levels without a personal life.

Yes, this philosophy goes against the American work ethic, which says to push yourself to the breaking point to get ahead. So many people these days think it’s normal to work seven days a week, to never take a vacation, and to sacrifice family time for financial gain. Well, that’s not the case in business. That’s right…if you want to reach the top dog status, you must take time off and have a work/life balance.

The fact is that you cannot work ninety hours a week and be a millionaire. Sure, you may be able to pull it off for a short period of time, but fairly quickly something will start to fall apart. Maybe it’ll be your marriage or your health. Whatever it is, you can be sure it will happen. What’s funny, though, is that the top producers—the ones who consistently earn at high levels—always have family and personal time built into their schedules. Always!

Set the Expectation: Unfortunately, many businesspeople feel guilty when they spend time with their family or pursuing personal interests. They feel they must be available for their clients at all times—weekends and evenings if need be. Look at many business cards today and you’ll see that many give out their cell phone number, home number, and some even their home address. Unknowingly, these workers are setting the expectation that they are available 24/7, rain or shine, sickness or health. And that’s no way to run a business.

While you should be accessible for your clients, you must also have some boundaries in your professional relationships. If you’re new to the business, then you more than likely will have to work weekends to get yourself established. That’s fine. But you still must plan some other time off for yourself during the week.

If you’re established in the business and you are still working every weekend, then maybe you really need to look at how efficient you’re being while you’re working. Are you sticking to your established schedule? Once your business is established, there’s no reason for you to be working seven days a week. For example, one real estate agent in Colorado only works three days a week, sells about 270 homes a year, and earns approximately $4.5 million a year. That’s efficiency!

Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to tell clients what your days off are. They won’t guess, and they can’t read your mind. So if they ask you to meet with them on Thursday, and you take off on Thursdays, you must set the expectation. Don’t meet with them anyway and then be mad that they made you work on your day off. The client did not make you work on your day off; you made yourself work on your day off because you did not set the expectation. Hiding your schedule from clients will only create problems later.

What to Schedule: People often wonder what kind of personal things they should be putting in their schedule. Put in whatever is important to you. Some things you may want to schedule are your kid’s sports events, dinner with your spouse, time to work on your favorite hobby, commitments to personal groups or clubs you belong to, etc. There’s no right or wrong thing to schedule. The important thing is that you do it.

But putting these items in your schedule is only step one. Next you need to have accountability to these personal items. Perhaps your spouse can keep you accountable for your scheduled “date nights.” Maybe your kids will keep you accountable for going to their events. Whatever it is, be sure to tell your family and friends what you’re scheduling in your planner. When they know you have time set aside for them, they’ll help ensure you keep your word. After all, you don’t want to let down your family and friends, do you?

How Much Balance is Enough? When you’re starting out in the business, you must have at least one full day to recharge your batteries. This is one day when you’re completely unplugged from the office and from clients. You don’t take any phone calls, return any e-mails, or even think about work. This is a day just for you.

This may sound scary for some people, especially you Type A control freaks, but relax…the office won’t fall apart without you. And your clients won’t abandon you and work with another agent just because you took a day off. Remember, set the expectation upfront and no one will mind.

As your business grows, or if you’re already established in the business, then you must take at least two days off per week. They don’t have to be two consecutive days (although that is best), and they don’t have to be weekends. You simply need to take two days. Why? Because as you get established, your efficiency should naturally be increasing. You can accomplish more in less time, so there’s no reason to work more than five days per week. Also, when you produce at higher levels, your brain and body will require more relaxation time so you can stay at peak performance.

Finally, when you push yourself and overwork yourself, you begin to develop a sour attitude. You may secretly resent those clients who want to meet with you on weekends or whatever days off you want. You may resent colleagues who seem to work less but make more money than you. Resentment, anger, and frustration are not traits of successful businesspeople. A positive attitude, enthusiasm, and a love of the business are the traits that propel people to the top. And you can’t possess those traits consistently if you’re not allowing yourself time to rest.

A Little “R & R” Goes a Long Way: The bottom line is that you must have a balance between your work and personal life. Without it, your career, your health, and even your family life will suffer. No career is worth that price. So work diligently to maintain balance. When you do, you’ll be able to hob-knob with all the other top dogs as you sit by the pool on your day off.

Read other articles and learn more about Jerry Pujals.

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