The 40 Hour Work Week

A couple of weeks ago I blogged that one of my goals was to work 40 hours a week or less. Next year it might get decreased to under 35 hours a week, but baby steps are important when dealing with someone who not so long ago worked 80, 90 and 100 hours some weeks.

First of all, recognition of not having a life outside of my real estate business and my kids was the first step – yes I had a problem.  It didn’t seem like a problem though, mainly because I was having a whole lot of fun. Kind of the same reasoning or justification an alcoholic or drug addict speaks of when he or she is still in denial, I’m not hurting anyone and I’m having a great time so whats the problem?  I’m happy!

Next step was to write out a goal to change this life. I sat up all night and I wrote and wrote and wrote this huge long mission for my business and my life like the scene from Jerry McGuire, and I’m not even a writer : ) I read it over and over and it seemed cool, optimistic and encouraging but the next day I trashed the whole plan (even though I loved it). It was too much and how could I even remember the goal when its multiple pages?  So I re-wrote it in 30 seconds and here is what I wrote – WORK 40 –  Pretty damn simple.

All I wanted to do was work like most people in North America, work 40 hours a week so I could make money to have a life. I kept thinking, just because I don’t have a “job” doesn’t mean I should be working double shifts every day.

Lets make something clear before any of you start saying “Well I can’t afford to do that”, Working less doesn’t mean making less. Working less means WORKING LESS!

Of course we have all heard of the 4 Hour Work Week but I hate to tell you this, for most people, especially Realtors, this is impossible. Even the 4 Hour Work Day seems impossible to a lot of people. So yes lets stick to the 40 hour week for a start.

Its funny how people think about working and then dedicating yourself to your career. Back in the 1980s and 1990s it was cool to say I work so much, I put in 80 hours minimum every week and I’m crazy busy. People would say “wow he’s successful. working lots just comes with the territory. He works hard and plays hard. I admire that…” But now that isn’t so cool anymore.

What I think is cool is being able to say I have a created a business that works even when I don’t. I work hard when I work but I don’t work stupid hours anymore and my business doesn’t control me. Can you say that?

The biggest question was how can I make the same amount of money and work half the time I used to? It took me a while and took a lot of soul searching, researching, and I finally came up with this. Ready? And if you want to follow my path here it is. Just follow this simple rule. Look at everything you do in your business and ask yourself this “Do it? Delegate it? Or, Delete it? This will not only save you money, it will also save you a whole lot of time. (Fuck that’s brilliant – doesn’t happen everyday but I have to admit, this one is brilliant.)

Think about everything you do. From printing and filing? To, do I need an office? Do I need to lick these stamps? Do I need to respond to stupid emails? To getting an initial from a client. To even answering blocked numbers… instantly I smell a TW (time waster).  How about this? Writing thank you cards.

Do it. There are certain things we need to do and since we ARE our product we can’t get around them. So these are the things we must do. Like showing properties, getting listings, and signing offers.

Delegate it. You can’t get around accounting, marketing, and other Must Do tasks, but do WE need to do them? Presenting offers is usually under this category for me. All my thank you cards and expired cards are hand written by a retired woman in the West End and her hand writing looks amazing and she only charges me $2.00.

Delete it. Here are the things that are going to blow your mind. For example, and this might be an extreme but I never answer my phone unless you are an active client, close friend or family member. Realtors setting up appointments need to text or email me. Buyer leads need to do the same.  This is a huge time saver.  Dinners and lunches were also a massive TW that I don’t do anymore. Breakfasts only (***** NOTE ***** The problem with dinners is that they never end). The list goes on and on and I love it!

Another way I have saved time is becoming pickier with with taking listings.  If its not a condo or in Downtown Vancouver (unless its a family member or someone close to me) I wont take the listing. Since I don’t use lockboxes and I actually work for my listings, its too much of a waste of time driving an hour for 1 showing.  I’d rather refer it to a local specialist and this is what I mean by Delegate.  Make money doing nothing, who can argue with that?

Even the amount of people I want to work with has changed. We can file this under DELEGATE too. All the Internet leads go to people I work with. I have enough business so why am I working these leads? I would rather delegate these leads and get a referral rather than waste my time. Now I only work with 1 new buyer a month. They either have to be past clients or motivated clients. Just because I have 5 new leads everyday and I could do 100 more deals this year doesn’t mean I should.  It certainly doesn’t mean I would be happier either.

Another huge thing I needed to do was set parameters so I could control my business, instead of letting my business control me. Parameters as to what kind of product I want to sell. Where I want to sell it. Who I want to work with. How much I am going to work for. And the hours I’m going to work. Everything is posted on my website.

Personally in the summer I work Saturdays and Sundays and take Monday and Tuesdays off because my kids are out of school. However, when my kids are in school I don’t work Sundays… no ifs ands or buts.

Regular Hours

Monday to Friday 9:00 am to 8:00 pm. Saturdays 12:00 to 4:00.

Or Summer Hours

Wednesday to Friday 9:00 am to 8:00 pm. Saturdays and Sundays 12:00 to 4:00.

Yes mathematically that makes up more than 40 hours a week. I don’t work all those hours, they are my office hours, those are the hours you might get me out to a property, a listing presentation or get an email reply. Yes those are my hours and I stick to them as best I can and if you don’t like it there are 10,000 other Realtors in Vancouver who are out there who would be happy to run you around the city.

Think about this. If I went to my favourite restaurant that obviously post their dinner hours on the door and I called with 24 hours notice and asked if I could come in 4 hours earlier to have a steak, they  would most likely say, take a hike. If I called my doctor and told him I’m coming in at 10:00 pm because I have a sore throat, he probably wouldn’t even answer. And lastly, if I went to the Vancouver Airport and said I need a flight to Hawaii in 5 minutes they would probably laugh in my face. So why did I as a realtor jump when a potential client (not even a past client) calls to see a condo?

Its easy to set these parameters but it takes a whole lot of discipline to be true to them. It may sting at first and seem totally unnatural but in the long run you’ll have a more solid business, have more free time, and more importantly be known for something, like Downtown Condos.

I love my business, I love my clients, and I love my life but just making more money is kind of a boring challenge year after year. So not only is this a goal but its kind of a riddle for me that challenges me everyday – How can I make more money and work less?

This post means the world to me and I could go on and on for days about this but I’m going to leave you with this one question and please answer this question honestly.

Do you control your business or does your business control you?


No copyright Infringement intended. Source: The 40 Hour Work Week

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