Most real estate agents would say that selling 90 homes is a successful year. But not Cliff Lewis. He sold 90 homes in 2013 but worked 100 hours each week to do it. He had no time to be with his newborn twins and couldn’t take a vacation. Something had to change.
That’s when Cliff started time-blocking with a unique, color-coded system that ties specific tasks to how they impact all aspects of his business.
On this week’s Walkthrough, Cliff shares his complete time-blocking system — the system that helped him sell 147 homes the next year while working less and spending more time with his family. If you’re ready to run your business and stop letting the business run you, this is a conversation you can’t miss.
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Links and Show Notes
- Cliff Lewis – agent profile on HomeLight
- Cliff Lewis Experience – Cliff’s team’s website
- Join our Facebook mastermind for The Walkthrough listeners
- HomeLight’s Agent Resource Center
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(SPEAKER: Matt McGee, Host)
How’s it going for you these days with the whole work-life balance thing? I’ve heard and read a lot of stories from agents who have struggled in the past several months with getting back to “normal.” With balancing their real estate business and their family life.
Hi, I’m Matt McGee — host of The Walkthrough.
What I just described is a struggle that Cliff Lewis knows all too well. Today I’m bringing you an encore presentation of a Walkthrough episode that aired early this year. It’s one of the most popular episodes I’ve done — Cliff Lewis walks us through the time-blocking system that helped him sell 57 more homes the first year he used it.
As you listen to this episode, there are a couple references to the way things were pre-vaccine … when much of the country was still shut down. But his time-blocking system is just as relevant today — probably more so now that you’re out and about doing more stuff every day, every week.
So let’s get on with the show … here’s a 2-second break and then an encore presentation of time-blocking with Cliff Lewis.
Of all the things you need to be a great, successful real estate agent, there’s one thing … one thing … you can’t make more of. You can’t get more of it.
You need leads. You can always go get more leads. Advertise more, spend more, make more calls, whatever it takes.
You need a bigger network, a bigger sphere. You can always go meet more people.
You need more help to run your business. You can always hire an admin or more agents. Or hire ISAs, like we talked about the past two episodes.
But the one thing you can never get more of?
[Sound: ticking clock]
You’re stuck when it comes to time; 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week. That’s 168 hours total. And you need to sleep. You need time off. You can’t work around the clock. All-nighters may have been fun when you were in college but not so much anymore.
You need to manage your time. That’s more true today than ever with so many of you working from home. You’re doubling as teacher or daycare worker. You’re surrounded by distractions. It’s so easy to lose control of your day.
Just ask Cliff Lewis, a real estate agent in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Cliff had a killer year back in 2013 — 90 homes sold as a solo agent. But here’s the flip side: He was working almost 100 hours a week. He had two newborns at home that he never saw. He didn’t feel like a good dad and that made him feel like he wasn’t a good real estate agent.
A year later, Cliff sold 147 homes. That’s 57 more than the year before. He also spent twice as much time at home and he took two vacations.
How did he do it? That’s what we’re going to discover today.
This is “The Walkthrough.”
Hi, everyone. I’m Matt McGee, editor of Homelight’s Agent Resource Center. Welcome to “The Walkthrough.” This is Homelight’s weekly podcast. We have new episodes that come out every Monday. This is the show where you’ll learn what’s working right now from the best real estate agents and industry experts in the country.
At Homelight, we believe in real estate agents. This show is a journey to find out how great agents grow their business, stand out from the crowd, and become irreplaceable. If you want to get involved in the show, a few different ways you can do that. Find me in our Facebook listener community. Just go to Facebook, do a search for Homelight Walkthrough. The group should come right up. Feel free to join. Love to see you in there. You can also leave a voicemail or send me a text. The phone number is (415) 322-3328. Or if you prefer email, reach out to walkthrough [at] homelight.com.
I bet this sounds familiar. You’re planning to spend a couple of hours in the morning prospecting. Maybe you’re going to call FSBOs or expireds or follow up with Facebook leads. Then you get an email from a lender. There’s missing paperwork and next week’s closing is in jeopardy. Your seller is freaking out because they’ve already booked the moving vans. They need the money from this sale to buy their new home. Then something happens at home. Maybe you have to take your child to urgent care. What you thought was going to be a good, productive day has just fallen apart.
Or maybe it’s less dramatic than that. Maybe you just decided to check Facebook for a couple of minutes. And instead, you ended up spending 45 minutes commenting on your friends’ posts. And at the same time, you’re having three conversations in Messenger. When that’s all over, you spend another half hour or maybe an hour catching up on emails that really weren’t urgent.
You were busy but you weren’t productive. Sometimes it’s things you can’t control that sabotage your day. Sometimes it’s things you can. Either way, too many days like that will get in the way of growing your real estate business.
Cliff Lewis learned that lesson seven years ago. That’s when he started time-blocking. And you heard me say it just a moment ago — he went from 90 to 147 transactions the first year he was time-blocking. He was able to go on vacation and spend more time at home with his newborn twin sons.
Today, Cliff runs a 22-person team that did more than 500 transactions last year in eastern Pennsylvania. He just won three Homelight achievement awards for 2020: Top negotiator, top producer, and sells homes fast. Cliff asks his whole team to follow his time-blocking system. And when an agent is struggling, the first thing he says is, “Let me see your calendar.”
So today we’re talking all about time management. Grab a pen and be ready to take some notes. Be sure to join that Facebook listener community I just mentioned because we’re going to share Cliff’s calendar template in there. You can download it and adapt it to your real estate business. On today’s show, listen for Cliff to talk about
- how long it took for time-blocking to start working
- his color-coded system for filling out his weekly calendar
- why he blocks in one-hour increments, and
- how he recovers when emergencies throw his calendar out of whack
We start by going back to that year when Cliff did 90 transactions on his own. Sounds like it was a good year, but Cliff says it wasn’t.
Cliff: I was running literally 7 days a week, 12-plus hour days, doing everything I could to sell as many houses as possible. And I had two newborn babies at home. And there was this click in my brain saying there has to be a better way to do this. There’s no way this is the actual way, you know, the only way to make money in this business. And that’s what kind of first hit that I needed to prioritize what’s important in both work and home. And figure out a better way to kind of make this all kind of come together and make sure I’m using my time the way I should be using it and not just guessing about what I’m supposed to be doing.
A long time ago I heard the saying, “The only thing I can’t give you more of is time.” And that’s really what I try to explain to my agents even today is, you know, you can make more money, you can do more deals, you can increase your volume, your sales price, but you can’t get more time. You can pretty much get more of everything else. And that was kind of the kicker in my head that made me say, “Yeah, I have no more time here. I need to figure out a better way to actually make this work.”
Matt: How did you feel like as not just a business person but as a family member, as you were struggling to grow your business and yet be there and be available? Were you angry? Were you frustrated? What was that feeling like?
Cliff: Yeah. So there’s no worse feeling. You feel like you’re struggling at home because, you know, you’re not there for your kids and your family. And then you feel like you’re struggling at work because you can’t keep up with things. There’s at some point in time in everyone’s career where they kind of, you know, do the whole, “Holy shit, what am I doing?” Or, “Holy crap, what am I doing?” And it kind of, you know, catches you off guard where all of a sudden you realize that you’re just out here running in circles, hoping that something stays together and works out the way it’s supposed to. And you feel like you’re failing on all fronts. You know, “I’m not being a good father. I’m not being a good Realtor. I’m not doing anything really kind of well.” And that stinks. I mean, if you haven’t felt that yet, I hope you don’t have to, but unfortunately that stinks at that point in time.
So for me having twin boys at home, brand new infants that I, you know, had this idea of the father I wanted to be and how much time I want to spend with them and what I wanted to do with them and everything else and not succeeding at that. And then coming into work where I was just running like a crazy person and not succeeding at that. And me saying, “This is not good. Like, this is not sustainable. This is not gonna end well for my personal life. It’s not gonna end well for my career.” And that was kind of the idea of this can’t be the way to do this. And that’s kind of really how it all jumped up, you know, and went from there because it’s too easy to go off the course in this business and let the business control you instead of you control the business.
Some of the biggest agents in my area, and, you know, that you hear talk about nationally, at some point in time, have bumped into the idea of, you know, I’m running 40 hours a week extra just to get what my clients are demanding when that’s not the case. That’s not really how you should be treating the business.
Matt: At this point, were you already familiar with the idea of time-blocking, or was maybe there’s something that you read a book or, you know, a speaker, something that planted the idea?
Cliff: So I think everyone kind of thinks of the idea of time-blocking at some point or another, like, you know, your to-do list, you wake up in the morning and say, “Okay, what am I going to do today?” And kind of start writing out your task for the day or your to-dos. But I never really looked at it thoroughly to say, “Okay, how do I need to break up my day in order to accomplish what I can accomplish at work, home, and kind of split stuff up?” So I kind of took it to the extreme of, instead of just having a task list, let’s actually break this down. And when you’re a single agent and I’m sure most agents will agree with this, is you tend to have kind of huge upswings of a lot of sales versus periods of no sales and you have these big kind of swings. The reason is because when you’re busy, you stop prospecting and you stop focusing on the things that made you busy because you’re just in the busy. So being able to kind of look at that and say, “I need to do this better. I need a better way to lay this out. So that way I can keep my income kind of more consistent and do the things I need to get done, but also at some point in time, have some type of home life as well.”
Matt: So you start time-blocking and what happened?
Cliff: So it’s funny when you initially start time-blocking, the first thing you do is the way I set mine up and I set it up and I did kind of my goals. I time blocked just one week out of time. And I said, “Okay, here’s my goals for the week. Here’s things I have to get done. Here’s things I want to do.” And I kind of laid out what I wanted my days to look like. And, of course, in real estate, what you want and what you actually get are generally two completely different things. The chances of that actually happening weren’t really gonna, you know, work. The first week I did it, I would say, it would be a failure only because at the end of my day, the very last thing I do and I still do it today is I go back and review my day and I fill in what I really did. So my time block is one-hour increments. And I said, “Okay, here’s the things I want to be able to do.”
At the end of the day, I didn’t do any of the times. I didn’t get anything right. And I thought, “Man, this is pretty bad.” But I stuck with it. And what time-blocking did for me is it forced me to change thoughts or what it is I was doing at the hour time period that was up for the simple fact that that’s what my calendar now told me to do. So I know that I want to show this client a house but I already have in my calendar for that hour that I need to prospect while I treat that prospecting hour like it’s actually a client versus just something that I want to do. And then I said, “Unfortunately, client, that doesn’t work, I need to move you one hour because then I have time.”
So for me, time-blocking, writing it out was a great step one. Step two was actually following the actual time-blocking the way it’s supposed to be followed and treating those hours as they’re appointments, not just suggestions. And that really allowed me to be able to say, “Yes, this makes sense. You know, yes, I’m doing this because this is the time I allotted for it.” If I had to flip flop an hour for showing versus an hour to do some prospecting, I always made sure when I would remove the hour for prospecting, I’d immediately put it back and take some of the showing time. And I really, really, even to this day, I still kind of follow the same idea because it’s so easy to get thrown off of it, that, for me, it’s very important to keep on top of it.
Matt: When did it start to click and how did it impact your business and your family life? When in your head did this become a success?
Cliff: So probably I’m going to say week three or week four is when I really, really kind of had my first breakthrough, which was when I really started prioritizing my schedule versus a client’s schedule and not blowing off appointments or not taking appointments because, of course, we all have to do that. But really looking at this and saying, “Okay, I need to make sure that I’m spending adequate time at home, as well as at the office, as well as working on my business and rather than in my business and really kinda to build this out.” So I would say my success was probably week three when three out of five days I hit my hours like I was supposed to.
Matt: Cliff told me that even to this day he still gets excited if he can hit three or four days in a row where he sticks to the blocks that he has on his calendar. I mean, that’s life in real estate, right? Things are going to come up during the day. And later in this episode, Cliff will talk more about how he handles emergencies and interruptions. For now, let’s get into the details of his time-blocking system. You heard Cliff say a moment ago, step number one is that you have to write out your entire week. Step number two is that you have to treat each block of time like an appointment, not a suggestion. It’s something you have to do.
Cliff uses a spreadsheet. And again, we’re going to make his template available to download in our Facebook listener community. The spreadsheet has one column for each day of the week, and then each day has separate tasks broken out hour by hour, but it’s more than just randomly putting tasks into each time block. Cliff uses a color-coded system. Every task gets categorized by how it impacts his real estate business. The categories are making money, working no money, tracking money, and spending money. So let’s get back to the conversation with Cliff explaining those four categories.
Cliff: So I broke it down into four colors that I use. So green means making money. So they’re prospecting ideas. They are, you’re actually out talking to people. You’re out doing, you know, actually prospecting, not working with clients, but actually trying to figure out how to generate more business. It’s the most important part of your business in my opinion. So it should have the most blocks per week. It’s also the worst part of the business for a lot of people because most people hate prospecting, they hate the idea of prospecting. You know, it’s the hard part, it’s the “ugh” of the day but it’s super, super, super important. So I really, really try to make sure that I get at least, at least, you know, some…off of my sheet, I have about 36 blocks that I traditionally try to do per week. That is nothing more than trying to, you know, get new business. That’s the first one.
The second one is yellow, which is working no money. And what working no money means is it’s your reply to inspections. It’s you’re reviewing your stuff with your pendings. It’s going through, you know, making sure your appraisal contingencies are met. It’s working on deals you already have under agreement. Real estate agents tend to treat that with a priority over prospecting because they’re so concerned the deal is going to fall apart, that in their brain they think that’s the most important thing of the day. I tell my agents all the time, you know, they’ll be like, “Hey, I just got the BRI back for property at 123 Main Street, you know. So instead of prospecting, I’m going to get on this and then do this, and then I’m going to prospect afterwards.”
And I’m always like, “But don’t you have four days to respond?” They’re like, “Well, yeah.” I’m like, “So why are we stopping what we’re doing and jumping on that right away?” “Well, I want to get back to the person.” “But that’s not what the contract says, that you don’t have to do that. Don’t change your whole entire day because an agent sends you a reply to inspection earlier than you thought it was going to come and it’s not really in your plan for that day.” So being able to look at that and say, “You know what? I already have clients, these clients already love me. I don’t need to spend all my time making sure they continue to love me. I don’t need to drop everything I’m doing and run over and do this reply to inspection. When I do have the time I’ll be able to get there. And I have time built in this afternoon to work on my business. So I’m gonna continue to do my prospecting and not let something derail me,” is absolutely huge.
Another big thing we do and that’s also part of our yellow is for our listings, we have pending phone calls with our listings on Fridays, and what that means is that we are… not pendings, excuse me, active. Our clients know Friday afternoons, if you’re listed with us, we’re going to call you. So if you have an emergency on Monday through Thursday, you’re welcome to call us. But if not, we’re going to talk about your listing at your house on Friday afternoon. And if the rare exception they can’t talk on Friday, then we’ll move it to a different day, you know, if that’s a bad day for them. But 99% of the time, that’s when we talk to our listings. That helps us huge because then you don’t have those random phone calls throughout the week and you end up killing time for an hour talking to, you know, a listing person when you just block to say, “Okay, I’m going to spend two hours Friday afternoon and do nothing besides calling my active listings or call my listings, you know, and just fill them in.”
Matt: So we’ve done green and yellow.
Cliff: So next is the quick one, which is blue, and that’s tracking money. So it’s part of your weekly goal setting. And I think it’s important for agents to have. So everyone always sets these huge yearly goals. “I’m going to sell 100 houses and make a million dollars this year,” or whatever your number is. And then they start working in their business and they forget to kind of keep themselves accountable to where they’re at with that goal. So we do it weekly. Mine’s always on Monday. I do it Monday at the end of the day. And I just look at, “Okay, here’s how many closes I’ve had for a year. Here’s my pending. Here’s kind of everything that I’m at as far as, you know, what it is that I need to do to make sure I’m on track.” And it kind of sometimes make you go, “Wow, I’m ahead of the game. Maybe I need to readjust that goal so I stay motivated.” Or, “Damn, I’m not really where I need to be. I need to make sure that I’m correcting my stuff and really stay on top of this to get back to where I need to be to hit those numbers.” So goal tracking typically for me is two hours a week but it’s just enough to kind of make sure you see where you’re at and kind of go from there and then adjust as needed from that.
The most fun one is red, and red, of course, is spending money. So spending money is not just, you know, you’re at the mall, buying a new pair of jeans. Spending money is when you’re not working at all, you’re off, and you’re actually off, off. You’re not off but talking on the phone the whole time. You’re actually enjoying the hour that you built in the two hours, whatever it is, into your day to be actually off. In my world, I have my kids in the morning before school, so I don’t answer phone calls, or don’t email, or don’t do text messages generally until I drop them off at school.
I do before they wake up and then I stop while I have them in the morning before I’m kind of getting ready, hanging out, you know, doing that fun part, and then take them to school and then I get into work. And a couple of evenings out of the week I have bigger blocks set up for personal time that I kind of do that. So if I’m at home with my kids, I’m not actually spending money. I’m not buying anything with them. We’re just playing toys or whatever it is we’re doing. That’s still considered to be spending money on my book because you’re not trying to make money or work on money or grow your business. So I put it on here as red.
It’s also an obnoxious color red on purpose because that really kind of throws you in your face, but you have to be honest with yourself because, like, real estate agents love to play on Facebook and then say, “Well, I was on Facebook and, you know, I commented 27 times on Facebook to people’s requests for information. So that’s like working.” No, not really. It’s kind of just you playing on Facebook and calling it work.
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Matt: Just about everything is one-hour blocks, so, like, you don’t set like, “1:00 to 5:00 in the afternoon I’m going to prospect.” Is everything set to one-hour blocks on purpose? What’s the reason for that?
Cliff: One hour is traditionally a good time. After an hour, you tend to run off track. We all have a little bit of ADD. So if you say, “Well, I’m going to prospect for four hours in the morning,” you’re not actually going to. No… My ISA team doesn’t even, you know, go that long. You have to kind of change it up. The other thing about it, what generally happens is, like let’s take your email. It’s very, very possible that you can get on your email 9:00 in the morning and at 5:00 at the end of the day have just done email. Emails come so damn fast these days. And there’s so many of them and, heaven forbid, something seems interesting to you, then all of a sudden you’re on that. And you’re kind of, you know, going through that before, you know, you can, 100% absolutely be way, way, way off track and spend the whole entire day emailing.
Matt: But at the same time we all know in real estate, speed to lead is important. I guess the answer to that is that you have other people on the team who are available to answer the phone and respond to the emails as they come in if they are going to be from people, you know, that are new leads, potentially.
Cliff: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s not to say that if I see an email coming at 12:00 from a new lead, I can 100% say, “Hey, an email came out at 12:00, but I’m not supposed to be on email until 4:00.” I’ll 100% shoot them a quick email back but I’m not going to reply to an agent. I’m not going to email about, you know, the company happy hour. I’m not going to email about, you know, a church event coming up or I’m not going to start going through my email. But if I see an email from a new piece of business — perfect example, I do thank you calls once a week. It’s something that I really, really try to do and just really, really reach out and just say hello and check in. But if I see a new lead come in during that hour, that’s still, you know, you’re still trying to make money. Now that lead came in, boom, I can 100% shoot a quick email to them and set them back. That stuff I still absolutely do. I just don’t dive fully into my email and start going through days worth of email for no reason whatsoever.
Matt: Cliff, you are very specific with each block. Like, it doesn’t just say, “I’m going to do prospecting from 10 to 11.” It says, “Tuesdays at 10:00, I’m cold calling. Wednesdays at 10:00, Facebook. Friday at 11:00, circle prospect.” Are you being very specific on purpose?
Cliff: I think you have to be. And again, you know, this is probably a little bit my own accountability issues. Prospecting is such a generic term and so generalized. And when you’re in our business and we sell to the general public anything, “Oh, I was at the grocery store and, you know, I handed out a business card. So I’m chalking that whole hour off as prospecting,” and it’s so easy to not know what to do. So you sit down, you know, 11:00 in the morning on a Monday and you’re like, “Okay, I’m supposed to prospect for an hour.” And it takes you 30 minutes to figure out what it is you want to prospect, “Now, I already blew 30 minutes. I’m not actually prospecting.” So when I do this and I do my week, I think about ahead of time, how it is I want to prospect each of those different things. And this way I’m all kind of set up to ready to go, so I know what it is I’m doing.
So if I know that, you know, I’m going to do a circle prospect on Thursday or Friday at 11:00, whatever that is, I know ahead of time, “Okay, who am I going to focus on and which circle? Is this going to be my, you know, friends from my kid’s school or parents from my kid’s school, excuse me, is it just going to be my sphere of influence that I’ve sold houses to in the past, is it going to be people that live in my neighborhood? Who was it I’m trying to actually focus on in this circle and then what activity is best for them?”
Matt: We have a question — as long as we’re talking so much about prospecting right now, Cliff — there was a question from our listener community on Facebook. This is from Maria Jeantet in the Redding, California area. And she just wanted to know, “How much time do you spend on prospecting and is there a best time of day?”
Cliff: That’s a great question. So like I said, I do it by blocks. So I would say it’s been roughly about, on this one that I’m looking at now it’s about was a 36/week block for prospecting. That sounds like a lot. So that’d be the 36 hours worth of prospecting in a week. You know, most people only work 40 hours and you’re trying to spend 36 hours prospecting. That’s probably not realistic for most people, nor should it be. But if you look down at what the actual activities are, like a two-hour lunch with a lender that we’re talking about how it is we can, you know, grow the business, I consider that to be a prospecting lunch because I’m talking to a lender about what it is that we can do to increase our reach, you know, to get more clients in the future.
I would say best time of day if you’re calling people, first thing in the morning, last thing in the evening. I tell my agents that real estate agents are like restaurant people that, you know, when you want to be home with your family is when you need to be busy showing houses and that kind of stuff. We try to prospect from about 4:30 to about 6:30. If I’m not showing houses or they’re not showing houses, that’s our best window and/or first thing in the morning before they kind of get into work, or they kind of start the day at work. Work from home is very, very popular right now, obviously. So people are a little bit more flexible because they’ll take that personal phone call in the middle of the day because they’re not at the office. So phone calls right now are pretty good.
Matt: We spent a lot of time just now talking about prospecting, but remember, that’s only one of four categories on Cliff’s time-blocking template. Below the calendar, Cliff also tracks how many blocks each week are assigned to each category. You know, 30 green, 20 yellow, and so forth. He says there’s no perfect ratio for how much green, yellow, blue, and red you should have each week. But green, the making money tasks, that should always be the number one color on your calendar. And red, the spending money stuff where you’re not working, you’re having fun, that’s important, but he says it should always have the fewest blocks on your calendar.
As we wrapped up our conversation, I wanted to ask about how Cliff handles disruptions. You know, there are the normal disruptions that are just part of being a real estate agent, unexpected calls from clients, and stuff like that. And then there’s the bigger disruption you’re facing right now because of the pandemic. Pamela Zachowski is an agent who posted in our Facebook listener community. She wanted me to ask Cliff, “How do you stick to your schedule with so many family distractions at home?”
Cliff: So it’s not easy. That’s the easiest answer, is it’s not easy. You know, I have a lot of agents on my team now that went from being an agent that consistently did 40, 50 deals a year to now, “Oh, my God, I’m teaching my kids every single day. How am I actually supposed to be able to in the midst of all this, sell houses and everything else, and now, you know, and get the whole thing done?” The best thing I can say is this is where time-blocking becomes even more important. Time-blocking, when you don’t have a lot of time or when your schedule has a huge…a new piece too, makes it so important. You know, if 10 to 4 now becomes school hours, but traditionally it was reversed and evenings were school hours, so does that mean you need to bring in help to watch the kids in the evenings so then you can go to the office and work a little bit later, and just say, “You know what, this is going to suck over the next six months, I’m going to grind through this and work later every night to make up for the hours that I have my kids during the day?” Then that’s what you have to do.
To me, this becomes the most important reason you time block. When the pandemic first hit, of course, my kids came home. And now all of a sudden, hey, the kids are at the house and, you know, how are we going to do this? So for me to be able to say, “I can switch this. I can move this stuff around, and then pull those hours that I had set up for other stuff into other parts of my day.” And it means I’m probably working on a Sunday or a Saturday when typically I’d be off, but now I’m giving up those hours on the weekend because I have them during the week. You know, granted there might not be as much fun because I’m teaching how to build butterfly cages and all kinds of weird stuff, but that’s kinda what’s called for right now as a parent, then that’s kinda what you do. And you can use your chart to flip those hours, you know, to keep everything on track.
Matt: How do you account for the fact that, you know, you’ve got a day blocked out and you might have, you know, three hours in the afternoon where you’re planning to do X but, Cliff, oh, my gosh, this other thing, just…you know, my deal went south and my seller’s freaking out. And you’ve got an emergency situation, and I couldn’t spend those three hours doing my, you know, X, Y, and Z. So how do you account for just the fact that emergencies happen?
Cliff: When you start time-blocking, and the reason I also do the counting of the blocks at the bottom is when that happened to me, per se, all of a sudden, I think it was this Wednesday that just passed, my 9:00 to 5:00 went completely red because I had my kids all day. I have twin five-year-old boys that are pure destruction. My house is worth $0. So I don’t even pretend I’m trying to work when they’re there, which is awesome. I love it and I enjoy it and it’s fantastic. But that being said, is I don’t even give it a go. Yes, I’ll answer my phone if, you know, they’re not screaming at me for 30 seconds, we’re not being silly and goofballs and everything else. But for the most part, it’s red, you know. There’s no work being done that’s going to accomplish anything.
So I lost those five hours of what would be green and yellow blocks. So to flip that, on this Sunday where I’m supposed to have off a bunch of times, I got rid of three red blocks on Sundays and I put those back to a different color that I missed out on. And I try to get back to zero as much as possible.
Matt: If a day goes south then try…what you’re saying is try and make it up later in the week. If a week goes south, try and make it up the rest of the month, that sort of thing.
Cliff: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that’s all you can really kind of do, again, because you can’t get any more time. You know, you try to manage that, that going south as much is absolutely possible. You know, if it’s a work issue, very, very rarely is it a work issue so bad that you need to throw off your whole entire day.
(Speaker: Matt McGee, Host)
You can get more leads. You can hire more help. You can meet more people. But you’ll always have a finite amount of time. So make the most of it. Great stuff, Cliff. Thank you so much. Remember, if you want to get a copy of Cliff’s time-blocking calendar template, join our Facebook listener community. We are posting it in there today for anyone to grab and use.
Alright, what are your takeaways from today’s episode? What mental or written notes did you make? Here’s what stood out to me from my conversation with Cliff Lewis.
Takeaway number one, time-blocking isn’t just about putting random tasks into your calendar. Cliff uses a color-coded system where each task relates to how it affects his business. Green is making money. That’s the most important category and it should be the color that you use the most. Yellow, he calls working no money. That’s inspections, appraisals, working on current transactions. Blue is tracking money. That’s reviewing your goals and your progress. And then red is spending money. That’s family time, fun stuff, you know, anything that you do when you’re not working.
Takeaway number two, Cliff time blocks in one-hour increments. He says no one can legitimately do four hours of nonstop prospecting. You’ll get distracted. So don’t even try.
Takeaway number three. Speaking of that, be specific when you’re filling in each block. Don’t just say, “Prospecting from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m.” Say exactly what you’re going to do, “Call my database, circle prospecting,” whatever it might be, be specific.
Takeaway number four, you have to treat your blocks as appointments, not suggestions. Do what you said you were going to do.
And then takeaway number five, when things go south and you have to adjust, Cliff says try to make it up the next day or later in the week. You’re never going to have a perfect week. That’s not how life works. It’s not how real estate works, but stay accountable to yourself. At the end of every day, Cliff reviews his day, fills in what he really did, and then he adjusts the rest of the week as needed.
Alright, any questions or feedback for me or Cliff, you can leave a voicemail or send me a text. It’s (415) 322-3328. You can send an email to walkthrough [at] homelight.com or find Cliff and myself in our Facebook listener community. Go to Facebook, do a search for HomeLight Walkthrough, and the group should come right up.
That’s all for this week. Thanks so much to Cliff Lewis for joining me. Thank you for listening. If you like what you hear, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen. I sure would appreciate that. Also, be sure to hit the subscribe button so you’ll get all future episodes delivered automatically.
My name’s Matt McGee. You’ve been listening to “The Walkthrough.” At Homelight, we believe in real estate agents. We’re on a journey to find out how great agents grow their business, stand out from the crowd, and become irreplaceable.
Go out and safely sell some homes. I’ll talk to you again next week, everyone. Bye-bye.
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