It’s been a rough year and a half since COVID-19 hit, changing our lives forever. Taking care of clients is even more challenging. But before you can meet your client’s needs, you must take care of your own.
Richelle Plumstead has been a real estate agent for two decades. A member of Re/Max East Coast Elite in Fredericton, she is an advocate of self-care.
“A market such as we have is emotionally, physically and spiritually draining for many folks in my industry (not just Realtors) and self-care can really suffer,” she says. “This may not sound good to some but I have learned how to say no. It’s not easy when you’re a natural people pleaser in a service industry but we have to really triage buyers right now with so many people essentially homeless. I have had to really start using my time wisely to help those with the highest level of need first. We all have the same number of hours in a day and if I am maxed out and exhausted, I can’t represent my clients in the way they have come to expect and I am proud to offer.”
Plumstead is onto something when she talks about not taking on everything that comes your way. Nancy Reagan said it best with her anti-drug campaign in the 1980s: “Just Say No!” Heeding her advice and saying no with regularity is an essential aspect of taking care of yourself.
Setting boundaries is another component of self-care. Figure out your work hours and keep your computer and phone off the rest of the time. (Your phone message is the ideal place to state your work hours.) If you don’t set boundaries and are always available to your work and your clients, it will take a huge toll on your family and health. Don’t let work creep into your personal time.
Lorne Goldman, a real estate agent with Macdonald Realty in Vancouver, has been in the top 10 per cent of agents for the last four decades and has been in the top one per cent for the last 12 years. He attributes his success to ensuring he has a strong work-life balance.
For example, he never works on weekends because they are reserved for family. Taking time off from real estate has been key for Goldman. His goal is to visit every country in the world – he has been to 122 of the 195 countries (according to the United Nations) so far. Taking trips when he is not as busy is how he makes it happen. Goldman has noticed a decrease in his efficiency due to not being able to travel much in the past 16 months. And having to quarantine for two weeks after going anywhere has made travel unappealing.
Goldman’s other key for self-care is exercise. He is a big proponent of physical activity; last year he cycled 4,900 km on his bike. Taking breaks from work is essential, he says. “You just can’t keep working.” Following that reasoning has played a huge role in his longevity in real estate.
Taking care of your physical self is vital. You already know the biggies – stay hydrated, eat mostly healthy, move as often as possible, get a wealth of quality sleep. You may need to put them into practice more often.
Dave Markus, Saskatchewan provincial broker with eXp Realty in Regina, knows his key to self-care. “The foundation for wellness for me is proper sleep. That means early to bed, early to rise, and never ever take your phone to the bedroom. A few years ago, I took the time to learn about sleep cycles. For most people these are about 90 minutes. When you awake naturally at the end of a sleep cycle, your body is refreshed and ready to go. That only works if you wake naturally, not by alarm. Five sleep cycles equal 7.5 hours for me. I don’t set an alarm, I don’t allow telephone interruptions and I do wake about 7.5 hours later uninterrupted and completely refreshed. Take the time to discover your own sleep cycles and stop using alarms. You’ll be amazed at the benefits of proper sleep.”
Real estate agents are busy. It seems like there is never enough time in the day. So if you struggle to find the time for self-care, consider scheduling it in. Like a showing or a listing appointment or a meeting, mark appointments with yourself on your calendar.
Jenni Bast, an agent with Century 21 Dome Realty in Regina, practices self-care. “Everyone in the industry knows the ebbs and flows of the job. You are either back-to-back with client appointments or you’re impatiently waiting for your next deal. Here are a few things I remind myself with so that I can be in the best mindset for my clients:
- Stay in your own lane. It’s easy to get jealous of coworkers who are doing deal after deal when you feel you aren’t in a producing phase. Just know your time will come when you put in the work.
- Set boundaries. If you continue to answer emails or texts at all hours of the night, clients are going to expect you to be accessible 24 hours a day.
- Celebrate the small successes. Even if it’s just a happy dance when you get your buyer’s offer accepted or singing your favourite song in the car loudly because you are happy you just sold your latest listing. Enjoy those little moments in the job.
- Stop feeling guilt during slow stages. When your business is ebbing, treat yourself to a day off. You deserve it because I bet the week before you were working 10 to 12-hour days or juggling multiple clients or deals.
- Get away at least once a year. My boyfriend and I enjoy going camping up in the mountains in B.C. where I have no cell service or connection to the outside world for a week. The first few days, I get anxiety being disconnected. However, by the end of the trip, I feel well rested and my mind is ready to get back to the real world and start selling homes.”
When figuring out what to do for self-care, dig deep to clue in to what helps you relax. A few random options include:
- Chatting with a friend
- Deep breathing exercises
- Getting a massage
Do whatever brings you joy (gardening, listening to music, hiking, crafts, reading) and never feel bad for taking the time to ensure that your emotional and mental well is full.
By taking care of yourself first, you’ll be in a much better position to help others. Figure out what works best for you to fill your tank and make it happen!