Feel Like You Need to be Available 24/7?

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Jackie Louh: Are you someone who feels like you are attached to your phone? You can’t put it down because you might miss an email or a phone call or a text message? Hey, everyone, I am Jackie Luna. I’m the Vice President of Business Development here at the Lamacchia Realty. I want to talk today about something that a lot of agents struggle with.

It’s something that I struggled with big-time back when I was selling, and that is the feeling that you have to be available 24/7 for your clients. Prior to getting into this position, I was a listing agent on a team here at Marquee Realty and I was dealing with anywhere from 40 to 60 clients at one time, so I was busy, and I was stressed and I worked a lot.

I was that person who wanted to be available 24/7 for my clients.

I was probably the worst offender when it came to that. I would be responding to emails at ten o’clock at night, answering phone calls at 10:30, or eleven o’clock at night responding to text messages. I would even go so far as to wake up in the middle of the night. One, two, three o’clock in the morning and the first thing I would do was pick up my phone and start responding to emails.

There’s absolutely no need for responding to emails at two or three o’clock in the morning. Nobody’s awake at that hour. Well, most people aren’t awake at that hour. It was just a constant thing for me. I felt guilty if I wasn’t responding to my clients the second they reached out to me. Two, three in the morning, I was stressing out because oh my god, they emailed me a few hours ago, and I didn’t get back to them. I need to respond right now.

It was just ridiculous. No need for it. It got bad. I got really tired, really stressed out about things and I gotten burned out. There were two situations that happened where I realized something needs to change. The first one was my son, he had a toy computer. He was playing on it. He said, “Look at me, I’m Mummy, I’m working, I’m always working, ha ha ha,” and I stopped in my tracks, and I’m like, “Oh, that’s not good. This is not what I want,” but that’s what he was used to.

Because when I got home from work, yes, I was home, but I wasn’t really there because I was, again, on my phone, on my emails, texting people, calling people, talking to people. I wasn’t interacting with my family. I was sacrificing family time for work, which wasn’t okay for me.

The other thing that happened that was my breaking point was I had a client reach out to me, he called me at 10:30 at night, I was sleeping. I called them back in the morning and he yelled at me, he was upset with me, because I didn’t get back to him last night, but that wasn’t his fault, that was my fault because I had always answered him at ten o’clock, eleven o’clock at night, he’d grown accustomed to that, he just assumed that I was available those hours, because that’s what I showed him.

It wasn’t his fault, but those two things really made me take a step back and say to myself, “Hey, I don’t want to real estate anymore. I can’t keep doing like this. I’m stressed, I’m tired. I’m taking it out on my family,” and really this wasn’t how I wanted to live my life.

I had a conversation with my broker, I talked to my broker Anthony. Well, I should say, I cried, he talked. That’s a whole other story. He said to me, “You need to stop what you’re doing and you need to change things, and you need to do it effective immediately.” He gave me a couple of tips. One thing is something that he has always done, dinnertime, the phone is down it is in another room, it’s across the room, it’s just not near you while you were eating dinner with your family. That is your family time. Take advantage of that while you can.

The other thing that he had me do and this one was probably the hardest thing for me. When he first told me to do it, I thought you are nuts. I am not doing this, but what he said was, “Don’t look at your phone after seven o’clock, don’t respond to emails, don’t do anything after seven o’clock.” To me, that was scary. How can I not respond to my clients seven o’clock so early, you know everyone’s still up and awake and functioning at that hour.

I tried it, I failed miserably. I was definitely still responding after seven as hard as I tried not to I just couldn’t let go of that bad habit, but I kept working at it. What I did was okay, I’m not going to do seven out let’s try eight o’clock at night and that was a little bit easier for me to manage.

The thing with this though, in order for this to be effective, what you have to do is set proper expectations with your client right from the beginning. Say to your client, whatever time you decide is your time to shut off. For me, I’ll just say to my clients, hey, just so you know dinnertime, I’m not available and after eight o’clock unless it’s an absolute emergency, I’m not going to be available, but I’ll get back to you first thing in the morning.

Now there are always going to be situations where there’s something difficult going on in the transaction that needs your attention at those hours and that’s fine, that can be an exception to the rule. Totally fine, it just can’t become the norm because you will get burnt out, you will get stressed and you will start to second guest real estate. I’ve been doing this for nine years, guys, it is hands down the best job that I’ve ever had.

The fact that I was contemplating getting out of it, I’m really glad I did it, but those are my biggest pieces of advice to any agent. It’s really hard for new agents to grasp this because they want to be available for their clients at all times. You feel like you’re doing a disservice to your clients if you’re not around for them, but you’re really not, you’ve got to set your boundaries, and you have to stick to them.

This came up on a Facebook group that I’m a part of, a real estate Facebook group. The question that was posed was, “How do you guys or what do you guys do to keep your sanity in real estate because I feel I’m drowning?” I put in my two cents and said no phones at dinnertime and put your phone away after eight o’clock. You’ve got to set those boundaries, and you can do it, you really can as long as you’re open and honest with your clients.

I remember thinking to myself, “God, when I tell my clients that I’m not available after eight o’clock, they’re going to want to fire me, they’re not going to want to work with me,” but I was amazed at how many clients actually I didn’t have a single one that said, “What? That’s crazy.” Everybody understood because everybody has their families and their friends and everybody needs downtime.

I don’t care what your downtime is, guys, I don’t care if it’s hanging out with your family and friends, I don’t care if it’s working out for an hour or sitting down to read a book, or sitting down on the couch dead silence just staring into space, it doesn’t matter what it is. What matters is that you have to do it, you have to shut it off at some point to keep your sanity.

I think going into a long weekend is the perfect time for this video. What you guys are going to do this weekend, I hope is take a little bit of time for yourself. Shut it off. Let your clients know you’re not going to be available between these times and then just decompress, hang out with your friends, your family, do whatever it is you need to do to decompress.

Once you’ve done that and you start doing that on a continual basis, you’re going to feel so much better about your life and about your profession and you just feel refreshed and you’re not as stressed and anxious about everything and you’re not on edge all the time. Please do your best, everybody this weekend shut it off for a little bit. Enjoy the long weekend with your friends and your family. That’s it, guys. Hope you all have a great day. Bye.