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Seventy-two percent of more than 5,000 REALTORS® have told Dirk Zeller that their No. 1 business challenge is time management. “No other business or life challenge even comes close to the problem of managing our time,” he says.

Zeller, CEO of Real Estate Champions, coach and best-selling author of three “Dummies” books, including one on time management, says getting control of your time isn’t a quick-fix solution.

“It takes practice. Time management is like a muscle. You can’t run a marathon (or set a marathon schedule) and run it without building up your muscles and your discipline,” he told attendees in a recent webinar.

Zeller also holds a Certified Speaker designation (CSD), and with more than 1,000 published articles, he’s one of the most published authors in the success training category. His says his successes are a result of learning to manage his time—a skill he shared in great detail.

As an agent, Zeller worked four days a week and enjoyed three days a week at a vacation home without touching anything to do with real estate—and he still sold 150 homes a year, thanks to his time management strategy.

He admits he’s not perfect. “There are days when my time gets away, too,” he said. “There are curveballs, but there’s a strategy to deal with that, too.”

How You Use Your Time Will Determine the Quality of Your Life
Time is the great equalizer. We all only have 24 hours in a day. So, what are you going to do with your time? Time management isn’t about being perfect; it’s about being focused, and what you focus on, Zeller explained.

  • You’re going to go home today with something undone. That’s reality, and it’s okay.
  • The right question to ask yourself is, “Did you select the right thing not to do?”
  • Were you “strategically procrastinating?”
  • Are you focusing on Direct Income Producing Activity (DIPA) or Production Supporting Activity (PSA)?
  • Are you working the right activities at the right time (focusing on your premium time)?

Focus on Your Premium Time
The two most important aspects of time management are determining where to focus, and then using your premium time: the three to four hours a day where we’re most focused, most energetic, and most aware. There are no right and wrong premium times—just the times when you work best. If you don’t know what your hours are, figure it out as soon as possible. Concentrate on doing your DIPA during those premium hours. During that time:

  • Avoid interruptions. They are the death knell of productivity. Interruptions don’t just last for the time it takes to resolve. It lasts for the time it takes you to return to the same level of focus you had before the interruptions. Most REALTORS® estimate they’re interrupted, on average, 47 times a day—about 3-4 hours a day that just vaporizes for most people.
  • Control the inbound interruptions. Limit phone calls, emails, texts, social media, and even people stopping by your office when you’re in your premium time.

How to Look at Time
When you think of your time as DIPA vs. PSA (lead follow-up, showing property and writing contracts), and PPSA (making flyers, paying bills, meeting the home inspector, answering phones, etc.), you’ll begin to see where your time goes. There’s not a right or wrong amount of time, but there needs to be a balance.

An hour or two of DIPA time versus 6-7 hours of PSA time is going to be reflected in your income, because you get paid based on the value of your skills. Do you want to be paid $295-plus an hour, or $15 an hour? PSA activities are worth about $15-$20 an hour. DIPA activities are worth hundreds of dollars an hour. So which activities do you want to focus on? The more hours you work at DIPA activities, the more money you’ll make. Consciously shift your time from the PSA activities to DIPA activities by one hour a day, and you can increase your income by $50,000 a year.

How to Set Your Daily Priorities
The most successful people select and complete the highest-priority tasks first. Champion Performers have developed a plan or a system to identify and categorize the activities that must get done and you can too. By using Zeller’s daily priority form, anyone can maximize the time they invest.

Work on DIPA activities. Go to to download the free form to help you set your priorities. The form creates five key priority areas. First, list all the activities that need to be done. Then assign each activity on the list a category based on A, B, C, D or E:

  • A – Activity is something that has a serious consequence if you don’t complete it today
  • B – Activity is something that has a mild consequence if you don’t complete it today
  • C – Activity has essentially no consequence to it if it is not completed
  • D – Activity can be delegated to another person on your team or an affiliate
  • E – Activity should be eliminated because it is unnecessary

Then list your activities in order of their priority based on the category you listed them in. Finally, with those categories in hand, time-block your day and week, focusing on your A categories.

Time-blocking is a type of scheduling that can help you manage your time better by focusing on finishing tasks (large or small) one at a time. Effective time-blocking means figuring out what sorts of things you need to do each day, month, and year. Schedule in:

  • Personal activities
  • Sales-oriented activities
  • Administrative activities
  • Planning activities
  • Flex activities

You can’t fill every box—it’s not reality—but you can schedule your most important activities based on your goals, including personal time and sales times. Don’t schedule marathon times of 2-3 hours. Set blocks of 20, 30 or 60 minutes, then take a 15-minute break and clear your mind, walk around, get a cup of coffee and relax. Don’t check email, and don’t make phone calls. Make your break a break, then get back to work.

It will take time to become a time management ninja, but it’s entirely possible if you start now, changing an hour a day, and building up your skills.

To hear all of Zeller’s tips and insights, listen to the webinar here.

Mathis_Mark_60x60Mark Mathis is VP of Sales for For more information, please visit

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