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As real estate professionals, we love to either brag or complain about being “on” or “available” 24/7. Great customer service, we call it—a way to stand out among our colleagues. We are at the mercy of contracts that don’t follow the business protocol of days that end at 6 p.m. or weeks that end on Friday.

The attractiveness, to some, of a real estate career is the “flexible” schedule and no limit to vacation time, though that flexibility means that we are slaves to our computers and phones.

The result of all this availability and flexibility? Quick burnout, sleepless nights, limited family time and vacations that aren’t restful or fun. I’m on a quest to change this cycle, starting with myself and my own team. Here are some of my very simple suggestions to bring balance back to your busy lives:

1. Set office hours. Follow the traditional American business hours of Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (or 8 a.m.-5 p.m., or whatever you choose within this cultural guideline). And stick to it. When the office is closed, it’s time for you—to read a book, take a class, go to a movie. If you work with buyers, you may need to show homes in the evenings and over the course of a weekend, but be clear that those hours are “by appointment only.”

2. Work at an office away from your home. The allure of a home office is one of the top reasons people choose real estate as a career, but with it comes distraction and the inability to walk away easily. Leaving home in the morning to go somewhere to do your office work—whether it’s the local library, a shared workspace or your brokerage office—will not only set you apart, but will also instantly create a start and end time to your day.

3. Establish a morning routine. Planning to be at the office at 9 a.m.? Then don’t wake up at 8 a.m. I’m an advocate for three hours of a morning routine before you leave home. Get caught up on the morning news, work out for 30-60 minutes, eat a healthy breakfast, set your goals or plan for the day, or take time to meditate or write in your journal.

4. Manage your email. Here’s a simple tip for getting control of your time: Schedule your emails. Yes, I know you’re occasionally going to be checking email on the weekends and at night out of necessity, but try to avoid sending non-essential emails during your off-hours. Go ahead and write them if you must, but schedule them to send during your office hours. If you get in the habit of sending emails and text messages at 9 p.m., your clients may just respond.

5. Build a team and let go of control. Getting help, whether it’s by adding an executive assistant, a transaction manager, a buyer’s agent or all of the above, allows you to build balance back into your life. Adding the right resources will build your bank account more quickly than anything else you can do, and certainly more effectively than working 80 hours a week. Just imagine the great customer service you’ll be able to provide by expanding your office staff.

Life is more than work, though a happy work life is a great accomplishment in our journey. Broaden your vision, your goals and your perspective by getting balance back in your day-to-day and you’ll love your work even more than you do today. Tackle just one of these suggestions at a time and work toward a better and more fulfilling life in 2020.

Sarah Bernard, senior coach for Workman Success Systems, came to real estate from a career in corporate marketing and property management. Licensed in 2014, Bernard sold $6 million in properties with 12 transactions in her first year and was Rookie of the Year. Five years later, she has grown a team that includes three buyer agents and support staff. She is committed to learning and improving her team management every day. Contact her at For more information, please visit