Habits of High Performing Assistants

F.M. Alexander is famously quoted as saying, “People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.”

If being a successful real estate assistant is in your future, you’ll want to set about mastering these seven habits.

Use just one capture system. Within that system, keep two lists: To Do and Waiting For. On the To Do list are actions you need to take and must always start with an action word. Some examples:

  • Write a blog article about the best places to see Santa in our city
  • Update the listing checklist to include an email announcement to the person who referred the seller to us
  • Email the Friday team meeting agenda on Thursday morning
  • Call B&B Theater about reserving a theater for our client event

On the Waiting For list are items you are waiting for someone else to do or get back to you about. A good formula for writing each item is [Name] to [Action]. Some examples:

  • Mary Smith to sign listing agreement
  • My lead agent to confirm date of movie night
  • Courtney from Spring Cleaning Company to send me a W-9

Sample capture systems:

  • Pen and spiral notebook
  • Pen and sticky notes. Write one sticky note for each item. Put them in a “done” pile and share them with your rainmaker if you need to show him what you worked on today.
  • Your CRM or database. Most real estate CRMs have the ability to assign yourself one-off tasks.
  • Todoist
  • Trello
  • Evernote

Get to the office at the same time every day. This takes careful planning, but once it’s a habit, you won’t have to think about it. This way you’re starting every day from the same place which relaxes the mind and helps you focus.

Identify your ONE Thing. What’s the ONE Thing you must accomplish today that makes everything else easier or unnecessary? Announce your ONE Thing to your rainmaker or to the entire team. At the end of the day, announce whether you accomplished your ONE Thing or not. (For details, read The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.)

Ask your rainmaker for his ONE Thing. At the end of the day, ask if he accomplished it.

Review your goals before you open your email. Achieving your goals means putting yourself ahead of everyone else. As soon as you open your email, everyone else’s needs are made known to you and it’s easy to get distracted by wanting to help everyone else first. Review your goals first. Then identify the time in your day or week when you’re going to work on those goals. This makes goal achievement much easier.

Ask, “What’s the latest I can get that to you?” Instead of assuming the person needs it right away, ask him for the deadline. Then see if that works in your schedule. Never promise something you can’t deliver. If you can’t do on his deadline, tell him when you can have it done. Most times that will work fine.

Time block your day. Of all the habits, this one is the most suggested and the most loathed. People easily understand the concept of how to block time. It’s the execution that’s difficult. Let’s say you’re in the middle of a one-hour time block working on building an email drip campaign. Your lead agent walks into your office asking for help with writing a contract. Now you have a dilemma. Do you stop working on the email drip campaign? Or, do you help your lead agent?

This dilemma is what keeps assistants from time blocking. Or, if they do time block regularly, it keeps them from feeling like they’re good at it.

The key is to ask, “What’s the latest I can get that to you?” Or say, “I’m in the middle of a time block. Can I help you in 40 minutes?” Setting up an email drip campaign has the ability to attract many clients. Writing up a contract helps one client. Which one is a better investment of your time? You must learn to be assertive when it comes to protecting your time blocks.

Phone calls and text messages are the biggest reason why time blocking is difficult for some assistants. They want the ability to be available to answer the phone or respond quickly. And that’s why I think you shouldn’t time block your entire day if your job entails customer or agent service. If you want most of your time available for customer or agent service, only time block an hour or two of your day for special projects. You’re still available most of the day for phone calls and texts, but you also get some uninterrupted time to concentrate on special projects.

These are my top suggested habits you work on building first. I believe they are the foundation for every successful real estate assistant. Master these and you’re well on your way to a happy and fulfilling career!

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