How real estate agents can achieve a good work-life balanceWhen Market Leader released the findings of its Happiest Agent on the Block survey in April, one fact was especially surprising: Agents who entered real estate because they thought they’d end up with a flexible schedule are the least happy.

It’s not their fault, really. Some of them may have heard that a career as a real estate agent was going to be a piece of cake—you set your own schedule and rake in the money. When it becomes apparent that nothing could be further from the truth, disillusionment sets in.

The fact is, real estate is a 24/7 business. If you hope to be successful—especially in the beginning when you are building your business—it’s important to realize that you aren’t your own boss when it comes to your schedule. Your clients will dictate the hours you’ll work.

“You’re always on call,” Diana Baylor, a sales associate with RE/MAX Masters in Covina, Calif., told REALTOR® Magazine. “You have to be flexible and find the perfect balance. Everyone’s balance is a little different.”

“I don’t love what I do for the awesome hours,” Candice Wilson, an agent with RE/MAX First in Clinton Township, Mich., told REALTOR® Magazine. “I just love it when people say that they want to be in real estate so they can work whenever they want. I work every day, about 12 hours a day.”

Avoiding membership in the unhappy agent club requires first realizing that your previous assumptions about the business weren’t accurate, and then learning how to prioritize, juggle and let go. Let’s take a look at some solutions other agents have come up with in order to get into, and remain in, the happy agent camp.

Team Up to Reduce Your Workload

If you find yourself heavy on the “work” part of the balancing act, with little time left each day for the “life” part, consider taking on a partner.

Having a partner means that: “You can take vacations – real vacations – ones where you do NO work,” author, speaker and real estate trainer Kelle Sparta, writes on her blog on ActiveRain.  “It means that you can take days off.  It means that if you’re sick you don’t have to answer the phone. It means, in short, a higher quality of life.”

Sue Lovit and Dana Farber Schwern, a partner team at Rhodes, Van Note & Company in New Jersey, agree that partnership makes their lives easier. “If one of us is with a client or on vacation, the other steps in without missing a beat,” they said to Forbes.

Delegate and Conquer

If you’re one of the many agents that prefers to run a solo real estate practice, consider hiring a staff, so you can delegate the more time-consuming and non-income-generating tasks out to them. These tasks include marketing, administrative duties, blogging and social media posting.

You might even consider hiring a personal assistant to run errands that you don’t seem to be able to fit into the hours you have left at the end of the work day. Any duties—personal or professional—that you can delegate will free up more time for other, more meaningful endeavors.

Get the Most From Your Tools and Systems

Having a system in place to keep in touch with your clients, past clients and potential clients, is a must if you ever hope to find a balance between work and private time.

If you spend a little time right now setting up your CRM properly, getting your contacts onto a drip email campaign and ensuring that your website is capturing leads, you can get your hands out of the day-to-day tedium of those tasks and into something more lucrative.

Find Time to Unplug and Refresh

For most agents, every single day is not a whirlwind of showing houses, attending inspections, giving listing presentations and negotiating. Keep track of your time over the next few weeks to determine which day is the slowest—then consider taking that day off every week.

Plan on disconnecting from your phone, the Internet, and anything else that has to do with work on your day off. Make a commitment to yourself to stick with it for the entire 24-hour period. Trust me, the world won’t fall apart during this time.

If the thought of taking an entire day off gives you the willies, start with a smaller chunk of time. Take 15 to 30 minutes every day for yourself. Go for a walk, go out for coffee or chat on the phone with a friend. Then, slowly build more “me” time into your schedule. Make plans to unplug from real estate an hour or two earlier than usual for one night a week. Build that up gradually until you’re actually taking an entire day off.

Who knows, in a few months you may feel comfortable enough to take a weekend getaway.

“You have to make a little time for the things that ignite your joy,” Laura Stack, an author and productivity expert in Denver told WebMD.

Finally, consider this: Half of all real estate agents didn’t close a deal last year, according to Bernice Ross at Inman.com. Those agents have nothing but free time and would love to be in your deal-juggling, contract-writing, time-challenged shoes.

If you’ve been successful at creating a balance between your work life and your personal life, we’d love to hear more. Please share your secrets!