One of the best parts about being an adult is that nobody scolds you for doing exactly what you want. If you are thinking ice cream for breakfast, to hell with it, why not!? You feel like painting your walls black, they're your walls - paint those suckers. Sometimes, though, getting exactly what we want, when we want it isn't for the best.
Take, for example, cooking dinner - you're making your favorite dish and sides. You're excited to sit down with a friend and catch up - you've even brought out the fancy wine glasses. Different dishes finish at different times, and you're hungry. You take a couple bites here and there. Rinse, repeat. When it comes time to set the table, you realize how much you've already eaten, and you've lost your appetite. Your instant gratification cost you your big payday.
Part of the challenge of being an agent in NYC is that I've got to keep myself in line. I have to set my own schedule and worse I have to stick to it. I have to decide what time to get out of bed and into my office, I have to decide to spend my time reviewing new documents and information rather than playing video games or watching Netflix. Even worse, I have to decide when it's okay to relax. Being your own boss is like having a constant power struggle with yourself. It's complicated and confusing.
I have a few tips that have helped me manage both my time and my sanity that I'd like to pass on:
- Build Strong Habits. I have rituals that I stick to - when I find myself breaking these, I know it's time to check myself. I work out at the same time every morning. I review every new property listing in Manhattan while I have my morning coffee. I get in bed with a book and without my phone every night. I once heard it takes up to six months to build a habit. When you're trying to build a habit, stick with it and start small. Building my habit of reading at night I started with one page a day - no reason at all I couldn't manage to read one single page. Once the habit was formed, the pages increased on their own.
- Schedule Things, and Don't Flake. Put it your calendar - make the word of your calendar the word of God. BUT make sure you don't over-do it. You want to make the most of your day, but don't forget to schedule some "me time" or forget about meals/sleep. Strategically placed pauses in my day (something I learned from Meditation) have proven extraordinarily helpful for me personally.
- Write it down. Break out a pen and paper and start writing things down. Every Sunday night I write down my goals for the week (how many properties I want to preview, how many chapters I'd like to read, how many times I'd like to work out, etc..) They're ambitious, but not so ambitious that I lose faith by Tuesday if I'm behind. If you need a little extra incentive, ask a friend to do the same and hold each other accountable. Nobody likes to admit they didn't do what they said they would.
- Define your space. I know that if I stay home every day I'm tempted to play video games. I will come up with any reason to take a "quick break" that somehow turns into an entire wasted afternoon followed by a night of guilt and carbs (it's a downhill spiral, people.) I limit how many hours I allow myself to work from home each week for this reason. I go into my office and I use the time I promised myself and my business without being bothered by that temptress couch. Problem solved.
- Know yourself. Don't schedule 12 social events in one week if you're an introvert. Don't plan important meetings at 9am if you're not a morning person. Don't stay at the office until midnight if you do shitty work at night - get there earlier the next morning. Play to your strengths.
It's not a sure-fire map to success, but I can tell you that it's taken me years to really understand the impact these simple ideas can have on my life. Once I did, everything improved. Seriously, a few years ago I was a total train-wreck of a human and about 85% of the new less train-wrecked version of me is because of these five little ideas. I hope they can help you like they helped me. Good luck.