Years ago, pre-children, I was a full-time career woman, and then for the first years after having children, I was a full-time at-home mom, either of which is a lot for anybody. For the past couple years, I have become both. I am someone who does not accept anything I do less than at 100 percent, so the biggest challenge of my life is to achieve the proper balance between family and work.
During the holidays, this becomes especially challenging, because you throw in more family activities, parties, gift shopping, cooking, school breaks, traveling, snowy weather and work that must progress as if you do not have a life outside of it. Thank goodness the real estate business tends to naturally slow down a bit this time of year, but for those clients that are still active, real estate never sleeps.
These are the three principles I live by to strike a balance:
1. Time Management – Organizing my time and making my lists ahead of time keeps my sanity during the holiday season. My calendar is my best ally. By managing all your appointments – work and personal – you can actually enjoy the holidays as well as be a focused Realtor.
Usually by early November, I put all the important dates in my calendar for the kids’ school activities, my time off and our plans for where and how we are celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas. I also have all my listing appointments, closings and legal deadlines for work. Each week I plan errands and personal time whenever I find blocks of time. One week it may be gift shopping, another week sending family cards and work cards, another week doing special family outings and traditions, another week for decorating and time to catch up with family and friends.
I also plan for at least one full day each week for marketing and keeping in touch with potential clients. Then you have to leave slots of time for those last-minute calls from clients to do showings, writing offers, handling issues that come up and new clients. If a demanding client conflicts with an important personal event, then you simply have an appointment and you have to schedule your client another time. This is also the best time of year to exercise your ability to work mostly from home and going out when appointments require.
As Realtors, we have the flexibility of having those days where we negotiate offers, make a ton of calls and emails, prepare for listings, bake a batch of cookies, put up the tree and throw in a load of laundry as a bonus – all in the comfort of our pajamas!
2. Early Holiday Preparations – An ounce of preparation…well, procrastination only leads to unnecessary stress, so I like to get certain things out of the way before the holidays are in full momentum. Bake freezable cookies, shop for gifts and extras, get prepared for the cold and snow around the home and in everyone’s wardrobe, stock up on food and quick options, get holiday cards ready early or in stages, etc.
I also try to get extra chores done before the holiday months or let go until the New Year so that they don’t pile up on my time, such as haircuts, oil changes, scrubbing floors, pet grooming, doctor appointments, etc. This leaves the time to focus on the other tasks and gatherings special to this time of year.
3. Cut Yourself Some Slack – I am definitely a self-proclaimed Super Mom and Super Realtor who takes pride in doing it all, but this time of year, I owe it to myself to not put too many demands on myself. Not everything has to be homemade; you don’t have to attend every event; you do not have to host or volunteer for everything; not every decoration needs to go up; you do not have to shop at tons of different stores for the perfect gifts; and finally, your home does not have to be spotless (oh, that was a tough one to write!).
Utilize catering, bakeries, online shopping, house cleaners, etc. We tend to be hard on ourselves for things that are not so important to others. Your priority is your time with those you love while still giving your clients great service any time of year.
As we conquer our work goals for the year, satisfy more happy clients and spend quality time with those we care for most, don’t forget to save some time to savor it all. This is the time of year to appreciate all we have. You not only need time for celebration, but time for peace and reflection. Put away the smartphone, put the kids to bed, make your list for the day ahead and enjoy a night of quiet from time to time.
We help people all year long, but must remember to help ourselves to enjoy it all along the way.
She can be reached at 630.346.3272 or Christine.Groves@CBexchange.com.