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RISMEDIA, September 9, 2010—The economy has been stuck on pause (or in some cases, rewind) for about three years now, and for about 59 of the last 60 months, we’ve been eagerly anticipating its quick turn-around so that we can finally get on with our lives.

As if this downturn were nothing more than a slight gestational hiccup. Pop in a Zantac and we’re ready for dessert.

Now that we’re stuck in the ICU with an economic ulcer, perhaps it’s time to reflect on our former feeding binge that got us here and think about what excesses we can start to give up.

After all, this economy is a strange, fickle little creature, and it may be years before we see an upswing.

Of course, everyone’s prescription may be different, and some may just continue to binge. Instead of waiting for the economy to get better, perhaps it’s you who should get better. Here are three suggested areas to cutback, rethink or undo to wade through this economic onslaught.

Let’s face it, you’re probably paying way too much for your office right now. Of course, as a real estate agent, you may not even have a home office, or if you do, it takes 87 Octane. But even if your office doubles as your daily driver, you may still have office equipment that does more to keep the dust from reaching the ground than it does to keep your checking account from reaching zero.

With more and more business and communication happening online, do you need a giant leather chair and an oak desk? Are you spending more on ink cartridges than you need? With the advent of Twitter and Facebook, are you still redesigning your business card every three months?

An iPad is really cool to look at, but is it holding more game apps than work apps? Is it really leveraging your business? It may be, but be aware that not all gadgets are created equally when it comes to productivity. Only you know if you’re giving Facebook too much face time.

Conversely, tech tools may also end up saving you money. DotLoop’s paperless transaction system, for example, may end up saving you hundreds, if not thousands, in paper and ink costs. Just remember to ask yourself if that new gadget or service is a tool or a toy (hint: if it helps you close more deals more quickly, it’s a tool).

Driving may be a necessary evil (or a welcomed reprieve, depending on your perspective), but with gas prices holding steady, be wary about wasting your time and money driving when it’s not necessary.

E-mail, eFax and eSign have all made driving more obsolete. By driving only when necessary (a face-to-face meeting is always a good reason), you end up giving less of your profits to the Michelin Man or your local gas station.

And if you’re lucky enough to have it, use public transportation whenever possible. You can even work while commuting, making you an even more streamlined agent.

While we’re all waiting to get back to “normal,” you may want to start accepting that this is the new normal. The frills and thrills of yesterday have led to the current spill with this economy, but it doesn’t mean you can’t cut back, rethink or undo some of your more audacious spending habits.

After all, if you can stomach this economy, you should be able to handle anything.

DotLoop was designed specifically to overcome the challenges of the traditional real estate negotiation process. DotLoop marries the technological with the traditional, creating a collaborative online environment that uses the Internet as a tool agents can use to connect with their clients, saving them time and money. Our system allows the agent and client the ability to interact on their own terms, dissolving distance and sending fax machines further into obsolescence.

For more information, visit