And every day, I take a bite out of an elephant.
One of my Facebook Domination Secret Members recently asked me… “How do you do it all?”
All too often, we look at other people and wonder how DO they do it all?
We don’t see the intricacies. We don’t see what they are giving up. When I was asked that question, it took me a little bit by surprise. Then I realized that I wanted to give an honest and thorough answer, which turned into this article.
This is a totally different type of article than I’ve shared with you here on LeadsAndLeverage.com. I’m sharing a peek into the inner workings of me, Christina.
My goal is to help you realize your dreams, to understand your own priorities and to give you permission to pursue those priorities and to ignore everyone else’s.
Featured download: Click here to download a PDF copy of my “Eat That Frog Checklist”
How do I be the best wife I can be, raise & homeschool 4 boys (2 with special needs) and run a business without compromising any of them? How do I maintain (or better yet, improve) my (already compromised by a disease) health?
This is not about the perfect “work/life balance.”
This isn’t about the typical feminist claim that you can “have it all” because that claim is a lie.
When you make a choice for something, you are making a choice against something else. You can’t have it all.
It is impossible to “have it all,” at least by our culture’s definition of “have it all.” You’ve got to know your priorities and live your life by those priorities.
My priorities in my life are my relationship with God, my relationship with my husband and my relationship with my children, in that order.
Everything I do is run through my priority filter. Everything. Including business choices. Will this draw me closer to God, my husband, my children? Will it allow me more time with God, my husband, my children? If yes, I proceed. If no, I don’t do it.
Yes, I just talked about God, in a business capacity. I’m crossing the “great divide.” I know this.
However, if you don’t know my priorities, you won’t understand me and you’ll need to understand me to thoroughly understand the rest of this article.
Like I said, every choice I make, including choices about my business, flow through my priority filter.
But the question is, what does that look like? How do I put everything through that filter when it’s apparent that nothing on my priority list even mentions business?
Let me interject something here… you need to remember something… your priorities are YOUR priorities.
They aren’t anyone else’s. They are yours and yours alone.
How you live them out is unique to you. What a priority is for you isn’t necessarily a priority for someone else.
Mine aren’t better than yours, yours aren’t better than mine. Mine are simply mine and yours are simply yours.
Don’t make the mistake of picking priorities that you think you “need” to pick because they sound good or because others are picking them or because you feel guilty for having a priority that sounds “greedy” or “selfish.”
Maybe a priority for you is to make money, lots of it.
Ignore everyone else and choose that priority for you.
No one else has lived your life. No one knows what you’ve experienced. No one knows your heart. Your priorities are unique to you and are neither bad nor good. Remember that.
Now, back to my response…
We are not independently wealthy. We did not inherit any financial wealth. This means that in order to live in our culture, we have to bring in money, some how, some way.
Several years ago, while we were building our real estate team and our brokerage, we realized something extremely important about ourselves…
We realized what our priorities were (and are) and knew that we needed to make some drastic changes in our lives and our daily activities in order to live out our priorities.
I translate my priorities into time.
Time with God, time with my husband, time with my children. The more time with them, the better. I do not believe in quality over quantity. I believe in quantity AND quality. Both are equally important.
Spend more time, engaged in the moment (not staring at a computer, a phone or a TV), with them. Show them I love them. Serve them in some capacity. Give them my time.
The problem is that most businesses we “run” take our time. All together too much of our time. At the very least, they tend to take 40 hours a week + the commute and as you know as a real estate agent, it’s way too often more time than that.
But we so often spend this time because “that’s the way it’s done.”
But, here’s the kicker… more than half of that time we spend “working” we actually spend “wasting.”
We are spending time watching YouTube videos, reading articles, ranting in groups on Facebook, scrolling through our Facebook News Feed, reading and responding to emails, sitting around in meetings & trainings, attending events coming away with nothing but the idea that “this is what we are supposed to be doing.”
When I sat down and did an evaluation of my actual productivity, I wasn’t shocked, but I was rocked…
I needed to make some major changes.
But as you know, it’s one thing to know what changes to make and another thing to actually make those changes and stick to them. To ingrain them into your very being.
So, I went on a journey.
I learned about and tested a number of “productivity” methods.
The most “touted” method is time blocking. So I tried it.
I’ll tell you this right now… I detest time blocking. Detest it.
For one, it doesn’t work with the unpredictability of my health (it’s more of an inconvenience how it manifests than a worsening of health). For another it doesn’t work with the unpredictability of my special needs children.
Time blocking works very well for many people. It doesn’t work for me, at least not in the capacity that it is taught as a productivity method.
I will not compromise my time with God, my husband and my children, nor will I compromise my sleep schedule (this is a health priority for me).
So if something happens and I’m not able to do my scheduled “time block” activity, it is not a simple matter of making up that time later. It’s a matter of losing that time block. Period.
I also found that I still “strayed” during my time blocked hours. I would add in or justify other activities.
I also found that every single day is different, every single task is different. Some days you need more time on a particular task and some days you need less time on a particular task.
So then I tried task focused work.
In other words, focusing on the 3 most important tasks for a given day. Focusing on them, completing them, and then either being “done” for the day or doing a few more tasks.
I love what Mark Twain has to say about this…
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
In other words, focus on the toughest thing to do. Focus on the one thing I’m working on avoiding. The one thing I REALLY do not want to do and do it first.
The one thing that is the most important thing to do that day. The one thing that if done, will make the biggest impact on my business.
This is NOT easy.
The whole reason you are avoiding something is because you don’t want to do it… for whatever reason. Name a reason, I’ve used it 🙂
But, I learned a few things…
What I found out was… not all tasks are important. Not all tasks are necessary. In fact, most tasks are not important. Most tasks are unnecessary.
The most undesirable or hardest tasks are better accomplished as quickly as possible. Like ripping off a bandaid. I don’t sit and ponder it. I take action immediately.
I don’t merely want to be active, I want to be accomplished. There is a difference.
Something else I quickly realized…
If a task is big, it must be broken up into bite size chunks. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase,
“When eating an elephant take one bite at a time” ~Creighton Abrams.
Take those chunks and start tackling them, one at at time, one day at a time.
The thing is, if you don’t start, you’ll never finish… but you don’t have to start big. Starting small is often more effective and produces more results than starting big. The point is, just start.
This is how I accomplish what I do. This is how I can get more done in half the time. This is how I am able to live my priorities.
But, in order to get things done, you’ve got to know yourself. Know your limitations. Know your temptations.
I don’t know how many brokers insist on real estate agents working “in the office” anymore…
Years ago, we were with a broker that tried insisting on us being “in the office.”
Despite being the top agents in the office, this broker kept insisting that working in the office was “the way it’s done.”
We were doing things differently, and bringing in more business than multiple agents combined. Obviously, we didn’t stay with that broker.
Here’s the deal…
If you are working in the office, how often are you interrupted? How often do you wander around the office? How many meetings do you attend?
How productive are you… really?
Don’t get caught up in “the culture.” Get caught up in your own priorities. Your own business. Your own productivity.
Other brokers require “floor time” or require “open houses.”
If your broker is requiring you to do things that simply take your time and do not produce productive results for you, don’t do them, or find another broker. Remember, it’s YOUR business.
I am not in the real estate business to answer a broker’s phones on the hopes that I’ll get a prospect, nor am I in the real estate business to spend my weekends sitting at an open house. When I run those through my priority filter, they are an immediate and unequivocal “No.”
The next thing you need to do is to find a productive place FOR YOU.
A place that helps you focus. A place that you go to to get things accomplished.
Where is that place or space? What does it look like? How is it set up?
For me, my most productive place has always been at home.
Even with our own brokerage, if I wanted to “eat my frog” I needed to do it at my home office, before going into the brokerage.
Now, with our LeadsAndLeverage.com business that we run from our home office, I get up early so I can “eat my frog” before my husband gets into “the office.”
I also have a couple of other habits I’ve developed that help me succeed…
I always have my water with me (I stay hydrated) and I make heavy use of Pandora (before Pandora existed I had multiple playlists – I still do in fact).
When I’m working on a task, I’ve got my earbuds in and I’m on my appropriate “productive” station (I’ve created different stations for different types of tasks). Doing these things has helped me be very productive.
(I’m listening to my “content creation” playlist right now!)
Now here’s the thing…
Because I run everything through my priority filter, I give up a lot.
I give up some “fame” and I give up a lot of money. I give up a plethora of opportunities.
But like I said, if they don’t move me forward with my priorities, I don’t do them.
I also guard my time. I’m fiercely protective of it. I want a life that isn’t “busy.” I want a life that is full without being busy. Full of love & laughter, not full of appointments & events.
Here’s an example… speaking / training / teaching at conferences and events.
These are a fantastic way to become “industry famous.” A solid way to grow businesses like mine.
However, they require me to work on someone else’s schedule. They require me to compromise my health to some degree while traveling. And most importantly, they require time away from my family.
I’m not willing to grow my business in that specific way. I already choose to travel 3-4 times a year for the growth and health of my business (for learning events & masterminds), I’m not willing to travel any more than this. All other travel is for pleasure, with my family.
This is my priority. My choice.
Others choose to build their businesses this way. Their choices are filtered through their priorities. Mine are filtered through my priorities.
If I can empower you with one thing and one thing only in this article, it is this…
You can live your life your way. You can build your business your way. You do not have to do things the way they’ve always been done. You don’t have to do things they way others are doing it. It’s your life to live, not theirs. It’s your business to build, not theirs.
When we were actively involved in our real estate team and our brokerage, we chose our priorities over our business.
In other words, we weren’t willing to invest more time into how everyone else was growing their businesses (more staff, more trainings, more more more).
Instead, we focused on profit. We didn’t want more employees, we wanted more time and we weren’t willing to trade time in the interim. We weren’t willing to give up 2-4 years of valuable and precious time with our children, so we built a real estate business based on profit.
We raised our average transaction price (tripled it) and kept our transactions at a quantity level that worked with our desired time schedule. We referred everything else out to agents in our brokerage.
This is not what all real estate agents want. It’s what we wanted. Remember, it’s your business. Build it your way.
One thing I use every single day is my “Eat That Frog Checklist.” It’s nothing fancy. It’s just my “most important” task list.
Every evening, I put my top 3 business and top 1 personal tasks on my list and the next day, that’s what I focus on. I put my “least desirable” task first and I work on that one first. If I don’t, something always gets in the way.
I am curious… do you know what your priorities are? Do they seem a bit “counter-culture?”
Have you been compromising your priorities (like we did) because you’ve felt tied into doing things a “certain way?”