Learn from this nationally known Time-Management Expert how to reclaim your time, and your life. This short interview will give you tools and insights to change the way your work and play. It’s a must hear.
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David: With that, I’d like to welcome my very special guest and my own time management coach Ms. Elizabeth Saunders. Welcome Elizabeth to the call.
Elizabeth: Thank you. I’m delighted to be here.
David: With the intro, I talked about you’re my own time coach and we’ve been working together for some time now and you provided some tremendous benefit for me. What I thought about on this podcast is just we could go over some things that would really help listeners with their own time management maybe some thoughts or some hacks that can help them out. Let’s just start out maybe with a little bit of Q&A or just a conversation and, I think one of the great pieces to start is …
First let’s do this. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself in start so we can get to know you a little bit and then we’ll dive into the good stuff.
Elizabeth: Sounds great. As you said I am a time coach I’m an expert and effective time investment. How I got into this field is that I was the business owner myself for many years. When I first started out I didn’t have any boundaries around my time. I didn’t have a sense of when I was working or not working and so with that resulted in is whenever I wasn’t actively engaged in an activity or event I felt guilty for not working if I was in sleeping. After a few years of that I decided that was no way to live. I worked on making my own time investment effective in terms of being able to work hard and be focused when I was working not work at night or on the weekends. Then my entrepreneur friend actually encouraged me to help others do the same.
Since that time I have worked with clients on six continents with coaching and training, but it really started out getting my own time investment under control and learning how to not be stressed.
David: That’s awesome because I remember when I first started with you I was struggling with that very same issue as feeling the need to be working at 8:00 or 9:00 at night, or Saturday, “Oh gosh, I get so much to do,” instead of realizing that, “Yes, it’s my business but it’s also I need to put time constraints on it because I need to have a life too.” Otherwise I’m going to get down the road X number of years and look back and think, “Boy,” where did I enjoy my life? I didn’t because I was digging in this business all the time. You really help me realize that too.
What’s one of the main things that keep people from reaching their potential? We all have dreams and aspirations about what we think we want our business to look like. What’s one of the main things from the time management perspective that keeps us from reaching that potential?
Elizabeth: I would say the key thing is not setting aside time to work on the most important activities that will move your business forward. Here’s what that looks like. For some people listening to this podcast what that will look like is they keep telling themselves, “Oh do that tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll send that email. Tomorrow I will work on my website. Tomorrow do this or that.” Then what do you know with the next day got tomorrow they’re lying in bed going to sleep realizing they got nothing done. That’s one group in terms of not setting aside time to work on their key goals.
The second group has the same issue but it manifest differently. What that would look like is you’re actually spending time on your business but you’re avoiding anything that makes you uncomfortable. Maybe you are tweaking the website copy for the hundred time, or you’re learning something about an interesting topic in your field but at the same time you’re [envoid in 00:04:04] reaching out potential customers, following up on leads, doing the things you really need to do to move your business forward.
If there’s nothing else you take away from this podcast remember this, you have to invest time consistently in the most important things that will really move the needle on your business.
David: That’s huge and that helped me as well too. Immensely because- especially when you start working with the team if you don’t have one yet, especially when you start working with the team and building out your staff, next thing you know you have one and then two and five, 10 people on your team if you allow yourself to become the go-to that is responsible for answering all of their questions and everything else, before you know you’re getting that exact space that you were just talking about which is your dealing with admin, staff and reaction everything and instead of being proactive and spending X hours a day or a week on that.
Those critical things that move your business forward, you’re in reactionary mode dealing with all of these other staff and you get sucked in before you know it. Six months is gone by and your business has not moved at all. That’s just, it’s huge and it’s huge for me to learn that from you too.
Elizabeth: Thank you, yeah. I would say on that note, it’s really important that you’re taking an entrepreneurial mindset. In the corporate world honestly you can get away with that.
Elizabeth: You still got to paycheck every two weeks even if you’re doing a bunch of things, like on my answering emails and attending meetings. As an entrepreneur it’s someone that’s in real estate that really needs to be closing deals if you’re not closing deals there’s not cash flow in. People don’t care if you were “Busy” doing lots of things, they want to see results. That’s a huge mindset shift that as a business owner someone real estate you need to embrace.
David: Totally, absolutely. Can we talk about a little bit about the- I know one of the things that you taught me and it really helped me realize was how important it is to do those important things very first thing. The reason is we have … Let’s say for instance like when I was a firefighter it doesn’t matter if it’s 2:00 in the morning and I’m tired when the bell goes off, all of a sudden I have this infinite supply of energy and power to go get these tasks done. It’s just never ending.
It doesn’t matter if it’s 7:00 am in the morning or 2:00 am- 1:00 pm in the afternoon or 2:00 am in the morning, that energy is there. It’s something really bad happens in your house in the middle of the night, all of a sudden you have this energy and boom you’re going to get it handle them and taking care of where- It’s different when it’s like a business task or something like that, and if it’s 8:00 at night you’ve already spent your day you’re tired, “I’ll just put this off till tomorrow.” Can you talk a little bit about why it’s so important to get those important things on first things on first in the day?
Elizabeth: Absolutely. You’re touching a key point there and it’s quite the contrast between let’s say fighting fires where it’s so urgent like nothing is urgent than that, and then doing investment activities in your business. The critical different especially if you’re an entrepreneur and if someone that is building your business, so if you’re someone that’s just starting out or let’s you’ve been doing okay but you want to take things to the next level. The key activities that will lead you to where you want to be will never be urgent. They will never be urgent. If you don’t have enough customers that means no one is coming to you. You have to be proactive it felt like you have to have this [rushing with friendly 00:07:59] and your phones are ringing after hook. You need to respond.
There’s a couple of key things along with doing them first thing like you just said. Number one, you need to define what those activities are. If you have a lack of clarity around what are the top- let’s say one to two things that I need to be doing on a regular basis to move my business forward, you need to get that clarity because when you’re tired whether it’s early in the morning before you go to work when you’re trying to get things done, or maybe at the end of the day- you have to have absolute mental clarity on what it is that needs to get done, is that calling five calling? Is that sending an email to these two people? Is that going to a networking event?
Whatever that is, you need to have absolute clarity. Secondly you want to have it as early in the day and as early in the week as possible. Why it happens? Sometimes you do have a meeting that runs over or you’re low energy or you get sick, but if you have plans to do some of those key business activities that will move you forward let’s say if you have a full time job you’ve decided to do those before you go to work. Then even if you don’t get them done right before you go to work you can do them at lunch, or if you’re someone that doesn’t have a full time job having to find exactly what those activities are and maybe trying to get them all done before lunch, so that the afternoon can be your overflow or can be a time to work on work admin user activities, is a great idea. Because the ones that are most important will always be the least urgent and the most uncomfortable, by putting them first they’re way more likely to happen.
David: It makes good sense and I think to expand on that a little bit and you can help me with this is, one of the things that we have especially as entrepreneurs or business people is- and I think it goes back to you talking about earlier [dunking 00:10:07] around with a website for the 50th time making it just right, it gives us a feeling of with those a little task it gives us a feeling of completion like, “Oh I did this.” It gives me some satisfaction because I accomplished a task where when it comes to our business we’re looking one month, six months a year to get to certain benchmarks. As we worked through that we might not get result a noticeable result in one day or in three days or in a week. It doesn’t give us that feeling of satisfaction and I think we need that as people to get those feeling, that’s why we extend to tackle those simple admin task because we’re securely or subconsciously needing the feel that, “Ah I got it done. I’m proud of myself” kind of stuff.
Elizabeth: On that note I have little hack for you in regards to-
Elizabeth: -that which can give you a mind shift for everyone listening. You’re absolutely right that we don’t like to feel vulnerable and we like to feel in control. I can feel 100% in control of changing the text on my website in a way I can’t feel 100% in control of whether or not someone will pick up the phone when I call or whether or not someone will reply to an email about a property or whatever that is.
The way you can mentally shift your mindset to give you that sense of 100% control and that sense of 100% ability to feel accomplished is to do this, instead of judging yourself by whether- by the response you get. For example if this someone picked up and do I have a good conversation with them? Or does this house sell? Measure your success by whether or not you took the right actions. Maybe that was I made 20 phone calls this week, or every time someone emailed me I emailed back in 24 hours. Whatever those actions are that are going to lead you towards your goals and our proactive you can say, “Okay, if I’ve accomplish that, I’m 100% successful” that can create a positive emotional energy to what to do those things that in the past of me, do you feel vulnerable.
David: That is an awesome hack because we know- it’s without a doubt that if we do X actions we’re going to get X results, even if we haven’t done them before, god it’s just common knowledge if we make 20 phone calls to perspective whatever, clients, home sellers, whatever that is. A certain percentage of them are going to respond favorably. As long as we know that going in then we cannot worry so much about the results and just trust it those results will be there based on our actions but like you said, focus on the actions and then we are accomplishing that necessary whatever it is subconscious need to be in control. “Okay, I did 20 X’s,” or “I put out five Craigslist Ads for that house this week.” “Man I did was I was supposed to do.”
Elizabeth: Exactly. I accomplished my goals and I am a success. When you look at it that way, all that emotional resistance towards like feeling vulnerable really dissipates.
David: That’s is a great hack. That’s is a great idea. Can we talk a little bit- I know for me I knew little bit about this naturally, and I’m talking about routines. I know a little bit about this naturally just because the way I felt like doing certain things at certain times of the day, but I had no idea how without routine I’m just like a flailing goose out there flopping around. That’s what I felt like sometimes. You really helped me dial into a routine and how important that routine is and how I can so easily get off track if I’m not following that routine. Can we talk a little bit about routines and why they’re so important?
Elizabeth: Absolutely. Routines are more or less your support structure, and the value that they add to your life is that they make the path of least resistance to be the one towards investing your time in what you want to do. In our work together, we talked about having time for your business and also health like sleep or exercise or time with friends. The thing is if you have routines in place that make your time investment automatic, you know when you’re exercising, you know when you’re working on your business, you know when you’re spending time with friends. You can actually relax more throughout the day because you’re not constantly making decisions about, “What should I do next?”
You’re not constantly having this little voice in the back of your mind saying, “Are you doing the right thing now? Are you doing the right thing now?” Because you’ve got a routine in place and you can say with absolute confidence, “Yes. I know I’m doing the right thing at the right time.” What this does is increases your capacity because you have this load, you wake up in the morning, you know what’s first, you know what’s second, you know what’s third, and so on.
There is one particular point I would also like to make along with this is that there are some people who tend towards being spontaneous. When I just have this thing about, “Oh routines are great and help you to be less stressed.” Their initial reaction was like, “Ahh.” The whole reason I am starting a business is so I don’t have that routine. No one tells me when I have to do everything. I can just be free to do what I feel like to be. If you’re one of those people I get it, I get it I worked with lots of you, but I just want to encourage you that use actually need routines as much or more than people that are naturally routine-oriented.
The reason is you don’t have an internal sense of order, and so those external boundaries allow you to focus your energy and attention in a particular direction. Does that mean that you’re going to want to have everything in your life schedule down to the minute? No. For some of the specific things like let’s say working on marketing for your business or reaching out to leads or responding to emails or returning calls, you will want to have some sort of routine in place, so that you’re confident you’re doing the right thing at the right time and you can manage all these different things that you’re trying to do without getting overwhelmed.
David: A huge help for me is learning how important that routine was and doesn’t mean- Now this is different if you have an appointment of phone call at 9:00, you need to be on that phone call at 9:00 but it doesn’t mean that, “Oh gosh at 9:00 I have to immediately stop this and move on to the next time in my routine.” It was more of- My routine is, these are the things that I’m going to do on a typical day so I knew to move gently from one to the next and so on unless I had a specific time frame appointment and that routine really, really helps.
Elizabeth: Exactly. It can be like more like a flow than necessarily meaning to be a very ridged to time structure.
David: The part about not having to think about what to do next, that was really helpful because I think, “Gosh it takes so much energy,” because you have to go back to your list, “Here’s the 800 things I have to do and here’s the 20 things that I wanted to do today,” and just not realistic and then you spent half an hour trying to figure out what to do and all this brain power and anyway, so it really helps.
Can we talk a little bit about how we can separate business life from personal life and why that’s so important and then that’s going to lead us into another question I have.
Elizabeth: Exactly. I’ll actually offer you two responses to this question. The first response will be more around the philosophy that I personally practice in my whole life and that works for many people. Then I am also going to offer an alternative because I know that different people need different approaches. Personally as I shared in my story at the beginning, for me to be able to relax and to really enjoy like outside of work, I needed to set some sort of hours. What I decided to do with that is typically 9:00 to 6:00 Monday through Friday. Does that mean every week is exactly like that? No. There’s an occasion all week where I do a couple of hours of work on a Saturday because something big came up or maybe a day when friends are in town and I will leave work early. In general that’s my boundaries and so I know if it’s 9:00 I should be up my computer and it’s time to work and if it’s after I can completely unplug without any sense of guilt.
That’s one way to manage your time in your life. Like I said for me since my natural tendency is toward actually working more than I probably should. I needed to have that boundary so I have permission to not feel guilty for not doing work after a certain time.
Second approach that works better for some other people is doing said or say, I have this particular boundaries around when I work or not work. They have particular goals and things that they want to get done personally and professionally. Each week they set aside, “Okay, these are kind of the goals that I want to achieve and as long as I have done those and accomplished those it’s fine for me to spend the rest of time on personal items.” That gives you a lot more flexibility but the only thing you need to do is stay really on, so like we were talking about before. If you have certain goals and you want to take that approach make sure they’re early in the day, make sure they’re early in the week or else they’re likely they just not happen and get pushed to the next.
David: The thing about shutting it off I like the way you do it, at 6:00 that’s it you shut it off. What everybody needs to realize is your to-do-list is not going to go away, for your whole life you’re going to have a to-do-list and it’s going to keep getting new stuff on it, you’ll work some stuff off and then guess what you’re going to have new stuff. You can look at your to-do-list and say, “I’m going to get this all done, and I’ll be done for the rest of my life.” It’s just not going to happen.
Having that shut off time gives you just like you said the permission to, “Okay, I’ll put in a good day or whatever,” and, “Boom I’m done I enjoy my free time.” On that, no that segway is over into joy. That’s one thing that I know it’s important but you really help me realize how important that is to do the things in your life that literally just bring you joy where you can unplug from the world and do whatever like, for a dog it might be chasing this ball. It brings joy. There’s nothing else in the world at that time. For me, it’s flying helicopters and I would set aside certain time each week and I would go do that because my whole world disappears, I’m doing something that’s just absolutely brings me joy. Can you talk a little bit about how important joy is and why we need to structure that in there?
Elizabeth: Absolutely and I love that you asked that question because often it doesn’t come out in interviews. I remember when you have that helicopter ride and you were so excited and I was so excited for you. The thing is people often resist time investment or time management whatever you want to call it because they see it as confining them to a life of drudgery, that everything they do we’ll just have to be work or just have to be something they have to do and everything will be a drag all the time. There’s never time for fun or spontaneity. That is so not true. It’s actually a complete lie, because investing your time effectively and having boundaries freeze you without guilt to do things you enjoy.
I remember our conversation where I was just asking you, “What makes you feel alive? What do you really enjoy? What are those things that you get lost in the moment?” For you that was helicopters. You’ve been investing time in that and after you took that helicopter ride there were just an excitement in your voice and excitement about life that haven’t been there before when you were going to the motions of doing work and spending time with people in your life, but not having those things that made you feel fully alive.
What I found with coaching clients is that when we first started out we simply need to get everything under control, so often times their schedules are out of walk, they feel disengage from the world they are completely overwhelmed and we need to get them to a place where they at least feel in control of the basics that they’re following through that they’re getting things done. Then what that does is that frees up time and frees up capacity to spend on things that just make you happy. For example I have a client that is doing more entertaining. Another that’s starting violin lessons, another that’s getting in to martial arts.
Investing those time in what I- was almost like play time it enhances your sense of that you’re fully living your life instead of just getting things done.
David: Absolutely. It just that, that is- once I started doing that and focusing time on it, I always do things here and there, go out with friends or whatever and that’s great, friends are great and everything but once I decided, “You know what, what I really want to do, what I always want to do.” Once I start to focus on that and spend time, even if it’s once a week or once every other week, boy I will just look forward to that and I would schedule it in, I refer to my schedule and I would look forward to that as I was going to my other stuff and just when it was time, boy I just go enjoying my joy. That’s awesome.
I know that one of the really bad habits that I had was I would wake up and literally if my phone- sometimes I put my phone on my nice- some of the time I leave it in my office on purpose but I would wake up and reach over and pick up my phone and start either checking email or looking at messages from the team on our team communication system or whatever, bad, bad stuff to do. Can you give us some examples of some maybe a couple of habits that a lot of people probably have that might be ideal to switch that off and do something a little bit different. Because now in my example is now instead of that, I get up and I go take my dog for a walk and I spent a little bit of time meditating and I have a shake and I make a cup of coffee and it’s my time and it gives me time to just enjoy a little bit of my time in the day and being alive.
Then it’s to sit down and focus on business, because business is not my life. My life is my life and I do business because I want to and that’s how I sustain my lifestyle. Can you talk a little bit about mainly some bad habits that people might have I know I did, and what can we do to fix those?
Elizabeth: Absolutely. You’re already touched on the whole idea of having some space when you get up in the morning to just be. There’s something about that that gives you perspective on life and also allows you to get centered and decide what your goals are for the day instead of being directed by everyone else’s goals. Which brings me to another very, very common mistake people make. That can be very easily overcome. That is most people don’t plan. Most people simply have their time dictated by the meeting request that they get and the emails they received. They spend their lives running around from meeting to meeting or email to email and never actually stopping and thinking what is most important to get done today.
Whether it’s at the very beginning of your day making a list, or at end of your workday before you go to bed, simply taking some time to number one, look over at the meeting for the coming day and make sure you actually want to attend them and they’re good ones to go to. Number two, prepping for anything you have to do. Then number three deciding what are my important goals? What things do I need to move forward so that if nothing else I get these done will help you really move the needle on your business and on your life versus being reactionary to everything coming at you.
Then another habit that I think is really, really, really critical in regards to people’s productivity and so often overlooked is the need for sleep. It’s amazing how people think that Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs doesn’t apply to them after there about like seven years old. Somehow reality always wins. I often see that when I first start working with coaching clients that they’re sleep deprive, that their staying up late doing things they don’t even really care about, then wondering why they feel so tired and so hard to focus during the day. If you simply get honest about how much sleep you need whether about seven hours or eight or nine whatever that is, subtract backwards from when you need to get up. Then really making a priority to go to bed at that time. You’ll be amazed how much happy you are and how much more you get done.
David: American Idol can do without you I promise.
David: I did that too. Once I started stopped going to bed at 11:00 and I started to going to bed at 9:30 on those days I have to get up earlier, that made a big difference too because I just felt more rested, more dialed in, and I could really focus on what I needed to do for a longer period so I can work longer into the day before I started feeling that waning energy.
Elizabeth: Yes, that’s totally true. One of a little hack here, one of my coaching clients put on his phone a why are you awake alarm, so that it would go up I think at midnight and reminding of what the time was and if he wasn’t actually doing something he was enjoying and/or he realize he wasn’t going to get anything more done he just went to bed.
David: That’s a good idea.
Elizabeth: I love that. Lose track of time. Instead of just having a wake up alarm you can have a why are you awake alarm.
David: I’ve never heard one of those. That’s a good idea.
Elizabeth: True, by due to wrap up.
David: That’s funny. We’re not done with this, but what I want to do is share with everybody under this video I think this is another video under an image or the podcast player or whatever on the page, there will be a link here. Click on that link and go to Elizabeth’s page, she’s got some great info, you can get some great tips on time management strategies. That’s how I started out getting to know her. I got some of these pre reports of shoppers. I started learning about the stuff and just life start to going out, “Wow, oh I didn’t know that.” Next thing you know I was in contact with her and then we ended up working together which I highly recommend if it’s a fit for you after checking out some of the great free stuff she has.
Plug in with her. Get in touch with her. See if she has availability because she’s definitely in high demand she’s awesome on what she does, but she made a huge difference in not just my business but in my life too as well as- as far as managing my life. We only have so much time in the day and so much time in our entire life and you want to maximize that, she really helped me be able to do that. Let me actually give a link to because some of might just be listening and not have access to a webpage. Just go to therealestatecommando.com/time. Write that down or whatever if you’re listening in your car and make sure you do this stuff later in the parking lot. Please.
That way you can get that later if you’re not, or you can get to a browser right now. Anyway, great stuff. Let’s continue a little bit. What are some great ideas that you can give us, just topics, what can we implement that can really help us? You’ve already give them some great hacks, but any other suggestions that we can step into right away and get a difference from?
Elizabeth: Absolutely. Another thing I would highly recommend we talked about earlier in this podcast about really thinking what are those key activities, those key actions that you need to get done. Another thing that’s critical to your success is have realistic expectations and it sounds counterintuitive, it is. Often times by lowering your expectations of yourself you can get more done. For example, before some people work with they all tell themselves that they should get 90 things done a day, I’m not exaggerating like literally 90. Then they worked all day long and ended up working till late in the night get so frustrated that they didn’t get them all done that the next day they’ll just blow off work. Not do anything because they have this sense of learn hopelessness that no matter how hard I work I’ll never get anything done so why should I even try.
They do that for few days feel bad about it, and then once again try to get 90 things done in the day. Instead of taking that approach a huge thing you can to increase your success in your life in your business is get realistic how much time do you actually have to spend? It mainly be a couple of hours a day, but when you really define what time you have estimate about how long it will take to do certain activities and then aligning the two. like do the activities that fit within your time budget, you’ll consistently make progress feel good about it and not burning yourself out.
David: That was fantastic thing and I’m absolutely guilty I’m a testament to what that looks like because I was the same I had, “Oh, I got to get all these stuff done this week, which means I got to get all these stuff done today and at the end of the day I might have half of it done if I’m lucky.” You’re like depressed, you’re like, “I suck, I can’t even get my work done,” and then the next day you start off in that mindset that, “Oh gosh.” It’s a vicious down trending cycle and it just gets worst.
When I learned that is not realistic. In your mind you would love to do all these stuff it isn’t going to happen you need to be honest with yourself and, “All right, let’s be realistic. What really can you get accomplished this week?” “Okay, now, what can you do this day?” Now, you’re circling right back around to that unconscious need or maybe it’s conscious, I don’t know to fulfill those things, “Oh I got that done. I’m so proud of myself,” because now if you have these two bigger things on this day and you get them done you feel happy with yourself, you’re content, you got the job done and you can start the next day on that high. Huge, huge, huge stuff.
I have to tell you. This has been a great call. I always love chatting with you and it just refreshes all the things that you’d taught me every time we chat. Do you have any parting words of wisdom before we say goodbye?
Elizabeth: I do. That is if you’re someone particularly that is just starting out in the real estate industry, in your business, in career, give yourself time and if you are doing the right actions and you are consistently setting aside the time to make these things happen results will come. Don’t get frustrated with yourself if it’s been a week or it’s been two weeks or even a month and you’re not seeing this much progress as you would like. Remember why you started to do this in the first place, stay committed to those actions that will really bring you forward and in time you will see the right result. Give yourself permission to take it slow, be gentle with yourself but be consistent so that in time you can get everything that you’re hoping and probably more than you even wished for.
David: That’s awesome and that’s absolutely true especially in our real estate business because we want success, we see these other people, our peers or whatever having the success and we’re excited about it and we don’t know quite word to start. Doing these steps however you learn how to do it doing those action steps, don’t worry so much about the results just trust it, doing the action steps will bring the result. Being patient with yourself is a great thing that I learned too. Elizabeth, fantastic. Thank you so much for your time as always. I enjoyed our conversation. I look forward to the next time that we chat and I’m sure everybody on this call or that’s listening is very grateful to the great words of wisdom that you shared with them too. Thank you very much.
Elizabeth: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.
David: Yeah. Talk soon.