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“Airplane Mode”

As real estate agents, our time is very valuable. Often, however, we are asked to be “at work” 24/7. With cell phone technology, we can literally be connected anywhere and anytime. While the occasional vacation or day off here and there is nice, it is hardly enough to fully unwind. Even when we do go on vacation, all too frequently the phone is on, or there is a computer to check email; rarely are we 100{16e476496f5f3a73cb19f20a476d08f8bca71b0bf9338242f1d2bf6ed337f382} disconnected.

The iPhone has a cool feature, “airplane mode”. While in this mode, the iPhone’s major functions, phone calls, emails, text messaging, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, & GPS are all temporarily turned off and the phone is fully disconnected. What would it look like if we took time out of our busy schedules to focus on slowing down, if we turned on ‘airplane mode’ in our lives?

The thought of this may cause some to start shaking, and for others, visions of a warm beach come to mind. Would our world fall apart if we disconnected for a few hours per week, or a day or two occasionally; I believe we would find that we can actually become more productive if we utilize our ‘airplane mode’

So what does this look like? It might look like a Friday morning at a coffee shop, without a computer and cell phone, armed only with a pen and paper. This could also look like a vacation with the family.  You need to commit to it. It should be planned, and intentionally used as time to relax, unwind and put more fuel in the tank. Perhaps this would be an opportunity to work on your business, rather than working in your business. Or maybe this is time to do ‘big picture thinking’.

In order for “airplane mode” to be successful, you need to have systems in place.  Put your phone on call forward and record an away message, set an automated reply on your email telling people you’re away, have your assistant/partner handle emergencies, and tell people ahead of time that you’re going to be gone.   Your clients need to be on board, aware of your plan and who they can contact.  There are a number of things we can do to make it possible to completely disconnect from our world. We just need to be intentional about it. We schedule important meetings in our calendar, is it not also important to schedule time to slow down?

One of the best and most obvious examples I can think of that illustrates this principle is my wife. My wife is a stay at home mom with 4 children ages 1-10. Her work day begins at about 7am, and doesn’t end until everyone is in bed at around 9pm. No lunch break, no smoke break. Put in these terms, she works 14 hour days, 7 days a week; that’s a 98 hour work week! We try to get my wife out of the house without the kids as frequently as possible. A few weeks ago I asked my wife to go run errands after I got home, and I would watch the kids. She was having a tough day, and welcomed the idea. When she returned at around 7pm, she had a huge smile on her face and looked as though the weight of the world had been lifted from her shoulders. This small amount of time away from her normal routine, provided her the time and space to be renewed and refreshed!

This example proves that any profession, from real estate agent to professional mom, needs regular time away to disconnect and slow down. This time needs to be intentional, scheduled, and set as a high priority. Let’s not get so stuck in the day to day routines that we can’t break away for some down time. Use technology, systems, and other people in your life to make this a reality.

It is great to be able to use this tool, however, here are some things I’ve observed that are necessary to use it well.  One, be committed to it.  Turn on airplane mode and forget it; trust your systems and the people around you.  Two, establish good systems.  Tell your closest clients in advance.  Introduce them to the person you are putting in charge while you are gone.  Three, schedule margin.  Don’t schedule anything for the day you leave and your first day back.  In fact, if you first day back is the 20th, tell people that you’ll get back with them on the 21st (under promise and over deliver).  Four, plan your first day back.  Since everyone will assume you are back on the 21st, your first day in the office (20th) should be fairly quiet.  Leave your auto-responders on.  Get to the office early, or when it’s most quiet.  Then develop a system that works best for you to filter through emails and voice mails. Five, un-bury yourself.  For me it looks like this. 1) delete all junk email.  2) Read all correspondence that happened without me, that I don’t need to respond to, then file those emails away.  3) List to voice mails, take notes, then clear them out of my phone.  4)  Sit down with my partner and assistant to go over everything that took place while I was out.  5) Start responding to emails and voice mails.  When this system works, I am usually caught up within 4-5 hours.

At the beginning, turning on “airplane mode” may feel weird, and even be difficult at moments.  Then, after a true opportunity to disconnect, it becomes normal and you wonder how you can have a good vacation without it.

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