By Mike Pallin, President of The Floyd Wickman Team There is almost no middle ground left in real estate. This business either consumes our life 24-7-365, or we are essentially unemployed and idle. It is almost unthinkable and unheard of to find someone in real estate who can be both productive and balanced.

Living and working out of balance is almost synonymous with being an independent contractor, an entrepreneur, a small business owner, or a self-employed individual. We work weekends. We work evenings. We work holidays. We work during Spring Break. We work during summer heat waves and during winter blizzards. When the market is good, we have to make hay while the sun shines. When the market is slow, we have to put in the extra hours to compensate.

Take a day off? Forget it! Vacations? A distant childhood memory. Sleep? I can sleep when I’m dead!

Sound familiar? If so, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Hundreds of thousands of independent contractors have learned from The Floyd Wickman Program to “take a full day off every week.” To most of our students, the idea sounds foreign or preposterous at first, and is a standard they sort of agree to but don’t intend to live up to.

And then they try it. And they like it! And find out they become more productive. Happier. Less stressed. More balanced. Refreshed. More patient with their customers and colleagues. More present with their families.

Taking a full day off every week isn’t a cure-all for the overworked and overwhelmed, but it is a great place to start bringing balance into your life.

So, if you’re not currently involved in a Floyd Wickman Program, but the idea sounds good to you and you’d like to create this habit; or if you used to but just haven’t found the time lately and want to get back on the bandwagon, here are the simple steps to getting a full day off every week.

1. DEFINE IT

What exactly does a “full day off” from real estate mean to you? It’s different things to different people. Does it mean that you are 100% totally real estate free, or might you check in once or twice for messages? Is your phone still on? Do you accept calls, read emails, look at texts? Do you “accidentally” drop in to the office? Do you go on appointments?

Purists will tell you that a day off has to be a disconnected day to really have the full effect. No appointments, no incoming or outgoing phone calls, no texts, no emails, no voice mail, no working lunch, etc. In other words, you are off-planet.

If the idea of an off-planet day gives you the willies, try easing your way into it. Cold turkey isn’t for everyone, but the less connected to work you are, the more benefits you will enjoy.

If you’re frantically wondering what in the name of Huckleberry Finn you would do with a day off, there’s always chores and errands. And then there’s frittering. Ah, frittering. Enjoying the simple things. A bubble bath. Actually cooking a meal. A good book. A walk. Conversation. Backgammon. A nap. Listening to music. Watching an entire sunset. Slowing down the pace of a 24 hour day.

2. SCHEDULE IT

The essence of a SMART Week is planning your week in advance, beginning with blocking out scheduled appointments, and then time off. Block out time off before you block out prospecting time, or call back time, or flex time, or anything else.

Blocking out in advance lets you see where everything fits, but more importantly, IF everything fits. If you are trying to shoehorn a day off into an already crowded calendar, that day off won’t happen. It can’t happen because there’s no time for it!

And here are two tips for the advanced planner. Try whenever possible to schedule the same day off every week, and all the people in your life will start getting used to it and looking forward to it. And, if you schedule the last day of this week off, and the first day of next week off, you get two days off in a row. If those two days are on Saturday and Sunday, that’s called a two day weekend!

3. PROTECT IT

If you go to all the trouble of defining your day off and scheduling your day off, make sure you get to take your day off by protecting it. The #1 rational fear preventing busy independent contractors from taking a full day off is the fear of emergencies arising. What if something blows up and I’m not there to stop the bleeding? Fair enough.

The first thing to do is to find a trusted “day off partner.” Maybe your 5-90-10 partner! Have them put out your fires on your day off, and you reciprocate by putting out theirs on their day off.

Then change your outgoing voice mail message. “Hi, this is Mike. I am on appointments all day and won’t be reachable until tomorrow morning at 8am. Please feel free to leave a message or send a text and I will answer you first thing tomorrow. If this is an emergency, please call Floyd at 555-1212 and he will help you with anything that needs immediate attention. Thank you.”

Try to resist the temptation to piece-meal your day off with a half day here and a few hours there. It’s not the same thing as a full 24 hour cycle away from the business.

One final note. The full day off every week habit is a gateway to a new way of thinking about time and balance. Just like living by any of Floyd’s standards or Core Values, this one simple habit will change you in some very profound and positive ways, and who can’t use a little more of that in their life?

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