- From meditation to limiting your work hours, find ways to reduce stress and avoid burnout.
- Use humor to show your humanity and make new business connections.
- Take small, incremental steps toward practicing mindfulness.
Life has changed dramatically for Mike Opyd, broker-owner of RE/MAX Next in Chicago and president of Mike Opyd Real Estate Coaching and Consulting. The stress over the pandemic, chaotic civil unrest, and a frenzied housing market resulted in Opyd shifting his emphasis to a more fulfilling work-life balance, where he takes care of the brokerage, does a few sales to keep sharp, and continues to grow his coaching business while prioritizing his health and family.
“I’ve been pulling back on how much I sell. This gives me a lot more freedom,” he says.
Business and life for many brokers have been altered tremendously since March 2020. Now, one year later, more real estate leaders are looking for ways to make things better—and less stressful—for their clients, agents, loved ones, and themselves. Here’s what has worked for them.
Changing Things Up
Opyd gets up at 5 a.m. on the days he takes care of his twin toddler sons on his own.
“I get up earlier than I ever have because I have to get things done,” he says. The earlier schedule allows him to complete tasks that need his attention. “That’s just the adjustment I had to make to stay the course and not get left behind.”
Opyd transformed his business in other ways as well. He now co-lists all his listings to help free up his time. And, with buyers seeking different elements in a home since the start of the pandemic, his company started focusing its marketing on the lifestyle a listing has to offer. For instance, the kitchen takes a prominent place in the package of photos, and they highlight a nice office space, which adds to the appeal since so many people work at home or have kids learning remotely.
As a broker who used to work extreme hours—sometimes until midnight even on weekends—he has begun spending Saturday nights relaxing rather than working. His children are in bed by 8 p.m., so he can share a movie with his wife and let go of any frustrations.
“I also put my phone away when I go to bed. I sleep a ton better so I can get up at 5 a.m.,” Opyd remarks. “It’s the little things like that that have helped.”
Focus on What You Can Control
Throwing yourself into a five-year business plan may not be the best idea right now, says Holly Duckworth, co-founder of Leadership Solutions International, which provides training in applied mindful leadership around the world.
“For a [broker], there is some power in being here and now,” she says. Focus on small gestures, such as picking up the phone and calling your last 35 clients, Duckworth suggests.
For Michelle Maloney, broker-owner of Maloney Real Estate LLC in Vermillion, S.D., the urgency to get transactions completed on behalf of her clients has been overwhelming. There’s a sense of needing to buy before something else happens and things get worse, she says. Maloney, who lives in a town of only 10,000 people, says it’s the closest they’ve ever come to multiple offers.
Now that 2021 is here, she’s focusing on expanding beyond her current market area in the hunt for more houses and new clients. Unfortunately, she has seen some homes with exteriors and yards that aren’t being taken care of. So, she’s sending letters to those homeowners introducing herself and her company, asking if there is anything she can do to help them.
“My goal is to bring joy to people,” she says. Her real estate coach encourages using humor to connect with people. For example, he sent out postcards in July that said, “2020 sucks. Let’s skip to Christmas.”
“It made people laugh, and it brought joy,” Maloney says. “You can go on Facebook and see all the negative things, but you can do something better than that.”
Inspire Your Personal World
Maloney firmly believes in guided meditation. She’s also focusing on taking better care of herself and her health. If meditation doesn’t appeal to you, she suggests going for a quiet walk in a state park and disconnecting. Leave the phone in the car; don’t even wear earbuds. Take a deep breath and listen to the sounds of nature.
“If you are a leader, everyone will look up to you and see how you are handling things,” she says. “You will lose some agents and respect if you are bouncing against the walls.”
Here are four suggestions from Maloney for kindling a new spirit this year.
- Find your gratitude: Write down the things and people you are grateful for. Send handwritten thank-you notes or cards to those you are glad to have in your life. Be thoughtful and be in the moment with the ones you love.
- Clean your spaces: If you get your contacts, papers, and personal workspace organized, your workflow can be simplified, causing you less stress.
- Network with others: Sometimes, you just need someone to bounce ideas off of or to feel a sense of camaraderie. It doesn’t even have to be a real estate group. Find fellow quilters or bowlers or whoever it is you have a common connection with.
- Challenge yourself: Is there something you don’t like doing or have a fear of doing? Maybe it’s time to motivate yourself to take the plunge.
“It’s just the time to keep calm and carry on,” she adds.
Help Your Agents Survive and Thrive
Maloney believes the country will see houses go into foreclosure later this year, once the pandemic slows down and foreclosure moratoriums are lifted. Some people aren’t going to get their jobs back, sadly, Maloney says, even as businesses reopen at pre-pandemic levels.
If foreclosures do start coming on the market, then brokers should focus on getting agents trained to handle them, including registering with banks and HUD to offer their services, she adds.
“In the time of a global pandemic … your executive presence matters now more than ever,” says Duckworth. In her new book, Sell More, Stress Less: 52 Tips to Become a Mindful Professional, Duckworth explains how to establish an energy for your team that is honest, transparent, and mindful. The book offers readers a daily two- to five-minute reading and an opportunity to center themselves.
Before the pandemic, real estate professionals felt they had to respond to every potential client at all times of the day, even if they didn’t know the answer. They felt the need to overachieve, she explains. “But now, no one knows all the answers. We are changing from a ‘me’ economy to a ‘we’ economy,” she adds.
Ask yourself what are the highest and best services you can offer your agents, yourself, and the culture at your company, Duckworth says. Whatever you need to change, take action, even if it’s a little at a time, she suggests.
“[Real estate professionals] are the stewards of the American dream,” Duckworth says. “They have the opportunity to be fully present for themselves, and then be fully present for the customers they are serving.”