When was the last time you took some time off? Since most real estate agents rarely take vacation time, you probably can’t remember.
If you’re feeling chained to your client list and think it’s impossible for you to take a vacation, think again. The world—and your business—won’t fall apart if you take some time for yourself. Your mind and body will, however, if you don’t.
Why Real Estate Agents Need Vacation Time
If you earn in excess of $100,000, you probably work more hours than your colleagues who make less money. In fact, around 40 percent of agents in that income bracket work more than 50 hours a week, according to an Inman study. And the hours increase with income: More than 50 percent of agents that earn $200,000 or more work more than 50 hours a week.
That amount of time spent working means stress, fewer hours spent with family and no time to yourself—potentially a recipe for disaster. “The impact that taking a vacation has on one’s mental health is profound,” clinical psychologist Francine Lederer tells ABC News. “Most people have better life perspective and are more motivated to achieve their goals after a vacation, even if it is a 24-hour time-out.”
If that doesn’t convince you that you need time off periodically, consider the famous Framingham Heart Study. The results found that women who seldom vacationed—every six years or less—were eight times more likely to have a heart attack or to develop heart disease than those who took at least two vacations each year.
“It shows how the body reacts to a lifestyle of stress. This is real evidence that vacations are important to your physical health,” Elaine Eaker, a co-author of the study, told the New York Times. Another study cited by the Times showed that men who didn’t take a vacation every year were 32 percent more likely to die from a heart attack than those who did take an annual getaway.
Yes, it’s scary to think of leaving your clients and your business behind. But leave you must, for both your mental and physical health. Here are some ideas for how you can do it.
Take on a Partner
If you are so busy that you wouldn’t dream of taking vacation time for fear that your real estate business would fall apart, maybe it’s time to take on a partner. Yes, you’ll be splitting your commissions, but with two sets of commissions coming in, you may not even feel a pinch.
A partner can take over the business while you take some time off. “You can take vacations—real vacations—ones where you do NO work,” author, speaker and real estate trainer Kelle Sparta says on ActiveRain. “It means, in short, a higher quality of life.”
Trainer and author Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn says that “One of the toughest things about being self-employed is finding someone reliable to watch your business so that you can get away… vacation coverage is a prime benefit to having a partner.”
“It’s blissful actually, especially if you’ve been selling real estate a long time. Your first vacation when you truly don’t have to worry about business? You’ll wonder why you didn’t get a partner before,” Hagedorn concludes.
Alas, partnerships aren’t for everyone. If that includes you, read on.
When you expand your solo practice to a team, you aren’t really “hiring” other agents any more than your broker hired you. They remain independent contractors. Most solo agents hire a buyer’s agent first. That agent is perfectly capable of handling your clients while you’re out of town to enjoy some time off.
If you insist on remaining solo, at least think about taking on an assistant. A licensed assistant can perform most of the duties that will be required in your absence. A virtual assistant or intern can help lighten your workload with administrative tasks.
If you don’t want to partner up and you can’t stand the thought of hiring anyone, but you need some time off, hand over your current business to a fellow agent in your office. You’ll have to be willing to split your commission, of course, but if you agree with the psychologists and studies mentioned about the importance of taking time off, it will be worth it.
If push comes to shove, take just one day off to start. Explore your local area, hike, bike, go to a movie or get reacquainted with your family. Make sure you unplug the phone and keep the laptop closed. This is no-work time, no matter what.