Blog

For our opinions on the local real estate market and lots of helpful tips for real estate professionals, home buyers and sellers, please enjoy our blog.

Discovering your Strengths: Questions to ask yourself

August 16,2017
What are you really, really good at? Often, it is much easier for us to point out our weaknesses than it is to identify our strengths. As a REALTOR®, you have a great deal of skills that you utilize on a daily basis, but what sets you apart from the rest? Ask yourself the following questions to better identify the unique strengths and skills that make you amazing at what you do:

 

What skills have helped you thrive? Think about the obstacles you’ve faced throughout your life – how did you get over them? With all the situations that have challenged you in the past, is there a common thread amongst them? It’s the tough moments that help us to identify the source of our strengths.

What makes you feel strong? When you feel overwhelmed, what makes you feel in control? Think about the moments when you feel strong, invigorated, and successful. These moments will give you clues about your strengths. As you identify and focus on what makes you feel strong, you can expect to be happier and become a better problem-solver in many circumstances.

 

What were you like as a child? When we’re kids we do what we love – and we’re not ashamed of it. Thinking about your childhood can give you insights into your passions and talents. What did you spend your time on? What was your favorite subject in school? Many people know from the get-go what their passions are, while for some it can take a while to recognize. Think about what interested you as a child; were you always building with Legos or writing stories, maybe you were constantly dreaming up inventions? Your childhood-interests, (especially if they’re still your interests) can give you clues about where your skills and passions lie. There’s a big part of us that never really changes, be honest about your interests – they hold the key to your skills and passions.

 

What compliments do you receive most often? Is there something that you get complimented on regularly? Pay attention to compliments, especially the ones that you dismiss because it’s for something that you do so naturally. Don’t assume that just because something comes easily to you or seems obvious, that it’s not rare and valuable to others. The skills that come naturally are often the most valuable.

 

It can be hard for us to truly see ourselves. We often focus on our weaknesses and don’t take full advantage of our strengths. To recognize our strengths, we often need others to hold up a mirror. If you can, email a few close colleagues/friends and ask them to write a story about a time where they felt you were ‘at your best’. Through reading their responses, you will hopefully be able to identify a pattern and paint a better portrait of your strengths. Odds are that the stories will all be fairly similar in nature - you may be surprised about you read. Seeing your strengths through others’ eyes can be a game changer.

9 Expert Qualities that a Good REALTOR® Possesses

August 9, 2017

In the competitive and fast-paced world of real estate, it's important for REALTORS® to set themselves apart. It's not just a job that's centered around people; it's a job centered around life changing decisions and big purchases. Not everyone can do it – and the people that do do it, (and do it well) possess some key qualities. Here are 9 expert qualities that make for an amazing REALTOR®:

 

1. They're excellent communicators. Being a good communicator means being available, being responsive, and ensuring that everyone involved understands what is happening. A good REALTOR® updates clients on their situation and shares information that is relevant to them.

 

2. They're proactive. A good REALTOR® thinks ahead. They're calling potential buyers, searching for new leads and anticipating challenges before they become issues.

 

3. They listen. If a client is having trouble getting a word in edgewise – there's a problem. A good REALTOR® asks the right questions and ensures that their client's needs are understood and met.

 

4. They're client-motivated. If a client is happy, they are happy. A good REALTOR® puts their clients first and ensures they feel respected and appreciated. Every client should feel like it's all about them.

 

5. They adapt to their client's needs. Every client has a different time frame, different motivations and different communication preferences. A good REALTOR® recognizes that every client is unique and adapts to their specific needs.

 

6. They've got a sense of urgency. A good REALTOR® recognizes that timing is important. They're on the ball and ready to go when necessary. They ensure that clients know their time is valued.

 

7. They've got the right tools. A good REALTOR® is equipped with knowledge and has all the necessary tools to get the job done. They combine their local knowledge, vast experience, and personal networks to ensure clients get the most value from their partnership.

 

8. They're honest. A good REALTOR® is direct and understands the importance of being clear and straightforward. They realize that honesty and 'telling it like it is' gets them further than painting a pretty picture.

 

9. They're assertive. A good REALTOR® treats people with the utmost respect but is not afraid to speak up. They show confidence in their abilities and take pride in their work.
 

What qualities do you think a REALTOR® should possess? What is the number one thing you would look for in a REALTOR®?

6 Steps to Prioritize for Success

 

August 2, 2017
 

How do we prioritize when everything feels like a priority? Our work is important, and often times it can be hard to decide which tasks deserve our attention more than others. Here are a few steps to help you objectively look at your projects and decide on where to start:

 

Collect a list of all your tasks. Everything should be in one spot. It’s easier for us to wrap our minds around what we have to do when everything is right in front of us.
 

Decide which tasks are urgent. Does something need to be done today, or right now? What are the consequences if the task doesn’t get accomplished?
 

Assess the value of the tasks. What carries the highest value to you? What types of tasks will have priority? Are client projects more important than internal work? Value can be assessed in different ways. Think about how many people are involved and impacted by each of your projects. Who would be negatively affected if you don’t finish the project? What can you stand to do another time?
 

Decide how much effort the tasks will take, and what to take on first. Figure out how much time and energy each task will take. Productivity experts suggest taking on meatier projects first and getting them out of the way. Sometimes, though, we just aren’t in the headspace to take on the big stuff . Knocking a smaller task off our lists can be just the motivation we need to get to the complicated tasks. Decide what works best for you.
 

Be flexible, but don’t lose sight of what’s important. Things will come up throughout the day and our priorities may change. Keep your eye on the prize while checking in every once in a while to see if you need to switch focus. Just don’t get too caught up in checking emails and getting distracted by new tasks if they’re not urgent. The best way to get things accomplished is to exclusively focus on one task until it’s completed. Distractions will always arise but do your best to spend as much focused energy as you can, for as long as you can.
 

Know where to cut things off. You most likely can’t accomplish everything on your list right now. Focus on what you can and must do and ditch the rest. Keep a manageable to-do list in order to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed and distracted.

 

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when we feel like there are countless tasks vying for our immediate attention. Follow these steps to analyze your work and decide what deserves your attention now.

6 Tips for Effective Communication

July 26th, 2017

It's a no-brainer that effective communication is important. Often times things get 'lost in translation' and what we think we're putting out there isn't always how things get picked up.
Ensure you are being a good communicator with these tips:

 

1. Know what you are talking about. When someone is looking to write a book, people will tell them 'Write what you know'. The same goes when we're speaking, especially in front of a group or during important meetings. Before you set out to speak, make sure you are knowledgeable. Show people why your communication is valuable and what they stand to gain from listening to you. Place high value in providing authentic and effective communication.

 

2. Be an amazing listener. Communication is a two-way street. If you want to know how to speak, you need to learn how to effectively listen. When you listen more than you speak you are able to engage, ask questions and understand what people are thinking. It's all about balance – make people feel like what they say matters.

 

3. Check your understanding. Don't fall into the habit of forming responses while people are talking. Ask questions to clarify things and make sure that people understand what the other person is saying. When you don't take the time to understand what people are saying, you will end up arguing and losing focus. Avoid miscommunications, misunderstandings, and assumptions. There's no harm in asking for clarification.

 

4. Pay attention to nonverbal cues. What people say is often not the most important form of communication. Keep an eye out for tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions. Nonverbal communication can speak louder than words. Things to look out for are: posture, hand movements, and eye contact. Watch out for your own nonverbal cues - it is easy for us to choose our words carefully, ensure that body language conveys the same message.

 

5. Don't overestimate your understanding. Do you think you can communicate more efficiently with the people you know, versus strangers? Yes, most of us feel that we can, too. Did you know, though, that whether we know someone or not, we communicate and understand at the same level? It's true. Studies show that strangers and people that know each other well communicate and understand in the same way. One study found that people actually failed to communicate properly with the ones they knew well; they overestimated their ability to communicate. With people we know well, we tend to presume things that we don't with strangers. We get lazy. Psychologists have a name for it: closeness-communication bias. To make sure we communicate properly, we need to remind ourselves that what we know is different from what others know. We need to be actively taking the perspective of the other person.

 

6. Speak to groups as individuals. Develop a level of intimacy in your approach that makes every person feel as if you're speaking directly to him or her. Be emotionally genuine and exude the same feelings, energy, and attention you would one-on-one.

Great communication is the cornerstone of great leadership. Creating a connection that is real, emotional, and personal. It requires an understanding of people and an ability to speak directly to their needs. Do you believe that you're a good communicator? How do you think you could improve?

 

5 Ways to become a Better Motivator

July 19th, 2017

Working in real estate often means we take on the role of mentor, leader, partner or teacher. These roles often require us to not only keep ourselves motivated, but to be a positive force and pass on the motivation to others.  Here are five simple things you can change in your behaviour that will help you lead and inspire with ease:

 

1.    Have a Role Model
Sometimes it’s best to draw inspiration from your own mentors. Look to whom or what motivates you and think, what is it specifically that motivates me? Is it their successes? Is it how they go about their plans? The more we engage with role models or people who motivate us, the more likely their behaviour rubs off on us. 

2.    Set Clear Goals
Once you’ve found a role model, the next thing to do is to create achievable goals that always satisfy the “why”. If you can explain why this task is important and communicate that to others, you will easily bring together a cohesive team.

3.    Listen More, Speak Less
It’s a common misunderstanding that to be a good motivator you have to do all the talking and leading. But in order to make sure your team understands the goals and the whys behind the goals you need to listen to how they think. This way, your team feels like they have the opportunity to contribute as a direct result of your motivations!

4.    Recognize Accomplishments
It’s very easy to catch someone doing something wrong – but it’s far more important to catch someone on your team doing something right. Praising them will encourage them and motivate them to do more work. And while you don’t need to baby people and say, “everyone is a winner” – regular checking and mentioning the good with the bad will keep everyone on your team (including yourself) motivated to stay on task.

5.    Demonstrate You Are Reliable
You’ve listened to your team, you’ve praised them, but life can still become incredibly stressful. As the motivator you need to show your team that they can count on you to step up and go above and beyond to get things done. You are the glue to your team – remind them why they’re sticking together.

Figure out what motivates you and pass on the enthusiasm! Each of these steps is meant to be tailored to your own personality – some people like to demonstrate these skills very loudly, others prefer a quieter approach. Find what works for you and in time you will see how easy and empowering it is to be a great motivator!

The Importance of Breaks

July 12th, 2017

We’ve all been too busy or too stressed to take a break. “If I just push through, I’ll be done faster”, you think. But did you know that taking regular short breaks improves your health and productivity? Here are a few reasons why breaks are so important during your workday, and what you can do to make the most of them.

1.    A Break Works like a Refresh Button
If you push yourself too hard you run the risk of running on empty. Taking as little as a 5-10 minute break to flip through a magazine or talk to a friend will help your mind collect and reassemble all the information you were holding in your head before, so that when you return to your task, it will seem clearer. Think of a quick break like creative fuel – make sure you’ve always got gas in your tank!

2.    Physical Activity on a Break Soothes the Body and Soul
Getting up and going for a quick walk - even if it’s to get the mail - will help you both physically and mentally. We, as humans, aren’t meant to be sitting around all day.  Physical movement keeps us from getting restless and helps us burn a few extra calories throughout the day. And with the fresh blood pumping through your body you’ll be less likely to be mentally stagnant throughout as you work on your important tasks.

3.    Make Time for Tea!
The Brits may be up to something when they go on their tea rounds throughout the day. Taking time to brew a cup of tea forces you to slow down and relax. If your brew of choice is an herbal one, you’ll also be reaping the benefits of ingesting a bunch of antioxidants that will help improve your overall health. But if your tea is as strong as you are and needs to be caffeinated, you can rest assured that your diminished pace on your break won’t transfer into your work.

“But how long should we be taking breaks for?”, you may ask. There is no universally agreed upon interval or period for breaks. However, an increasingly popular method is the Pomodoro Method which allows you to work for 40 minutes followed by a 5 minute break for three rounds, upon which your fourth break is 15 minutes. You can set up a timer by yourself or download the app on your phone to make sure that you’re staying on track. 

Test out which ratio of work to break works best for you and try some of these tips so that you can be clearer of mind and healthier when you return to your busy schedule.

Productivity Techniques to help you do your best work

We all want to be more productive and do great work in a short period of time. We also know it's a lot easier said than done. Here are a few productivity techniques to help you out:


Organize, prioritize and delegate

  • Collect all your tasks on a to-do list. Simply use a piece of paper or download a organizational app on your phone. Apps are great because you can set up notifications and reminders.
  • Decide if every task is actionable and delegate any problems you can; put tasks in a hierarchical order.
  • Organize your list and add priorities and deadlines.
  • Decide which tasks are not currently actionable and put these on a separate list.
  • Review the whole list and decide what to do first.


Start with the hardest work
If you're a procrastinator, or like to set certain tasks aside, start with the big stuff. Get into the habit of doing the hardest, most unpleasant, or most daunting task as soon as you get to the office. Why? This way it is out of the way and since you've already done the hardest part, everything else in your day will seem that much easier.

Find consistency
Find one task that you'd like to get into the habit of doing and do it every single day without interruption for one month. Repetition will helps to create habits; make the task an unmissable part of your day. Associate the task with a particular part of the day and make a special calendar where you mark off every time you've completed the task. Make yourself accountable and before you know it, the task will become an automatic part of your day.

Try the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique helps you power through distractions and have hyper-focus on the task at hand – you get things done in short bursts while taking frequent breaks. The way it works is you do focused work in 25 minute chunks while taking 5-10 minute breaks in between. The breaks help you to relax and regain focus and the short work periods allow you to stay 100% focused. If you're trying to produce it's a great way to get through your tasks.

Quick Productivity Tips
Want to be more productive? Focus on keeping your work organized and having your mind rested.

  • Get enough sleep – If you aren't getting enough sleep, how can you expect your brain to work well? Having a good sleep works wonders on your ability to produce.
  • Detach yourself from work – We hear about work/life balance all the time...it's an important factor that affects productivity. You should be able to forget about work during the weekends and just relax. This allows you to have fresh eyes on your tasks and improves creativity.
  • Minimize (unwanted) interruptions – it's okay to grab a cup of coffee once you've completed a task, but if you're in the middle of something, make sure there are no people (or phone notifications) disturbing you at work.
  • Avoid multi-tasking – Attempting to work on a few things at once might give you the impression that you are doing less work in more time - but realistically, the cost of switching between tasks is so big that you end up losing time and energy. If you're working on something, just finish it before moving on.

What do you do to get yourself motivated and increase productivity?

Conflict Resolution Techniques for Realtors

Real estate is a people business -we nurture and develop dozens of relationships on a daily basis. Knowing how to handle conflicts is just a part of the job. Here are 5 tips to remember when conflicts arise and tensions run high. Empower yourself and remember these steps:

 

1. Take a Moment

 

It can be tempting to make a split-second decision and act rashly in the middle of a heated argument. Usually our initial thoughts come from a place of defensiveness and our reactions can be disproportionate to the issue. Take a deep breath and calm yourself – think about what could be adding to your heightened emotions. Are you hungry, or tired? Is there something in your personal life that is stressing you out? Address your needs (if you can), then address the problem. Tip: quick stretches can help you relax and make you feel more comfortable.

 

2. Gain some Perspective

 

As difficult as it may be, try to view the conflict from a neutral place. Putting your own opinions aside, detach and objectively see the problem. Are you actually upset at the person? Maybe there is something else going on and they simply struck a nerve? Address the person you are actually having a conflict with. Identify the issue, ignoring petty things and delving straight for the deeper core issues. Choose your battles wisely and take responsibility for your own mistakes. If you've done something wrong, apologize. It won't be seen as a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength and integrity.

 

3. Show Empathy

 

The ability to show empathy is one of the most important conflict resolution (and overall communication) skills to have. When someone knows that you understand how they feel, they don't need to defend themselves and there are less heightened emotions involved. You do not have to agree with them, but you can show you understand their feelings. Using “I” statements instead of “you” statements reduces defensiveness. For example, “I felt uncomfortable with our phone call the other day,” rather than “You made me upset.”

 

4. Pay attention to your Behaviours

 

Be aware of your facial expressions, hand gestures and body language – you are sending a strong message whether you realize it or not - make sure it's the right one. Avoid behaviours that can escalate a situation, such as: criticism, showing contempt, defensiveness and stone-walling.

 

5. Work on Actual Resolution

 

Ask questions and gather information that will give you a clear understanding of the issues at hand. Look for a 'win-win' scenario and remember that a little bit of compromise can go a long way. Focus on what you are able to control. We have no control over the things that other people say or do, we can only control how we react to them. Empower yourself to resolve the conflict and if a resolution can't be achieved, empower yourself to change the boundaries or perhaps disassociate yourself from the person altogether.

 

Conflicts are a part of life, being able to handle situations with a level-head is necessary for success. Keep these tips in mind to further facilitate healthy relationships with clients and coworkers, we all have the power to turn a negative situation into a positive one!

Boost your Confidence for Success

Would you consider yourself to be confident? Having self- confidence is important for any career but it is crucial for those that are asserting themselves as leaders in their field. Confidence is not a static quality – it’s a mindset and sometimes, it takes work. Here are a few tips to become (and remain) confident!

Never give up, never accept failure.

Low confidence levels are often caused by the negative thoughts running through our minds. The negative things you tell yourself often become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The next time you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, switch to a positive affirmation and keep repeating this. If you don’t believe in yourself, it is hard to expect anyone else to.

Watch your body language

Think about a person walking with their head high, shoulders back, smiling and making eye contact. Would you perceive this person to be confident?

Posture, smiling, eye contact, and speech are important. Simply pulling your shoulders back gives others the impression that you are a confident person. Smiling makes you feel better and it makes others feel more comfortable around you. Remember to look people in the eyes when you speak to them and speak slowly. When you put in a little added effort and style your hair or give yourself a clean shave – you will feel better about yourself and others will perceive you as successful and self-confident. Body language will tell people a lot about you even before you say a single word.

Make preparations

One of the best ways to ensure you are confident is to know what you are doing. To be confident in the work place or during a presentation, equip yourself with as much knowledge and practice as much as you can. The easiest way to believe in your abilities is to prove them to yourself. Learn, prepare, practice, and repeat.

Take Action

Confidence is the way you feel, but it is also the way you act. Start conversations with strangers at networking events or take on a project that you normally would reject. Inaction breeds doubt, while action breeds courage. Capitalize on your strengths and let your actions show your confidence.

Confident people are often admired and tend to inspire confidence in others. They know that they can overcome obstacles and they tend to see their lives in a positive light - even when all is not going well. Confidence can boost your business, but it can also help you to live positively and be the best version of yourself. What boosts your confidence?

How to Create Listing Presentations that Convert

Creating a listing presentation can become second nature to some agents, who just go through the motions, updating and tweaking a template they created long ago.

 

But that doesn’t mean it converts your prospects into leads, and lack-luster presentation can be damaging.

 

So what should you have in your listing presentation so that it not only wows your prospects, but makes them sign on the dotted line right then and there? We’ve compiled a few of the key elements that need to be a part of your presentation, so that it converts leads into clients, time and time again.

 

Stand Out with your Message

Most realtors hide behind the corporate brand image, afraid to really make a stand on their personality and brand. But you have to, otherwise you become the “vanilla agent” that everyone sees, but no one remembers.

 

Use your own voice throughout the presentation (and no, we’re not talking about how you speak – we’re referring to the printed words on the page that will be left behind with your prospects). You’ll want this to carry through to every facet of your marketing, whether it’s your feature sheets, postcards, Facebook posts or emails.

 

Write as you sound when you speak so that as people are reading your materials, they’re literally hearing your voice in their heads. This is a good thing, but it can take some getting used to. Practice makes perfect though!

 

Photography in the Online World

Having professionally done photographs, and particularly drone photography for larger properties, will make or break a listing online. More than 90% of people will view a home online before they contact a realtor to walk through it, and if you took all your pictures with your phone, it will show. Make the investment and get someone to photograph the home in the best light possible so that what people see when they view it online is exactly how it looks when they see it in person.

 

Your listing presentation should show clients examples of your best listings, and all of the photographs you took so they can see how THEIR home will be presented to potential buyers. If they love the photos, you’re that much closer to getting the listing!

 

Be Engaging!

The copy in your marketing materials, and particularly your listing presentation, you’re going to want to describe the home not by features alone, but by how it can be used by the new buyers. An open concept kitchen becomes an entertainment or homework hub of the home. A master bedroom becomes an oasis of calm at the end of a day. Evoke imagery, and help potential buyers envision themselves living in the home, not just buying it for the walls and roof.

 

But how does that help your listing prospects to choose you as their realtor? Your potential listing clients want to know that you see them as more than just a transaction, and so you must prove that you approach their home in a human-centric way (i.e. buyers aren’t just part of a transaction: they’re people with lives and needs who want to know that the home is perfect for them and their family).

 

In today’s hot real estate market, being more human, and less about transactions, will win you new clients. Take the plunge and throw in a little more personality into your presentation. We could list a hundred things you can put into any listing presentation, but they’ll all fall flat if you mess up on connecting and engaging with your prospects.

 

At the end of the day, you want to be remembered, right? So be memorable! Stand out and don’t be afraid to add your personality to your presentations.

Feel like you're Failing? 4 Tips for Success

In business, and in life, we experience ups and downs. If you talk to any successful business person they will probably admit that their list of failures far exceed their successes. Struggling once in a while is normal, and even necessary to learn and grow, but what do you do when you feel stuck? Sometimes we need that extra push to get past the hurdles; here are 4 tips for success for when you feel like you're failing:

 

1. Take advantage of support

Have a support system in place and use it! It's stressful to go into something alone - don't be afraid to ask for and accept help. Sometimes all we need is a sounding board or someone to 'give it to us straight'. A lot of our burden can be lifted simply by having someone to talk to. Reach out to the people that know your business well – they will be more likely to offer constructive feedback. Be open to advice and criticism.

 

2. Shift your focus

Anytime there is a problem, it is easy to get caught up in the stress of the situation. When something goes wrong we can get paralyzed by the fear of failure and lose sight of what needs to get done. Instead of obsessing about the bad, get into problem-solving mode! Shift from “I haven't been able to get a solid lead all month, this situation is terrible!” to “Here are the steps I can take to better my chances this month”. Focus on solutions and get back in control of the situation.

 

3. Fake it 'till you make it

It may be a cliché, but it does work. Positive thinking can change our behaviours and experiences. You may currently be in a situation where you know things could be better. Your natural reaction might be to complain about the situation and have a sour attitude because you know it's not ideal. It's easy to be negative, especially when the people around you are unhappy in some way. So how can you be positive in a negative situation? Just fake it. It may sound silly, but acting like you're happy will actually make you happier! Fake a smile – it's proven to improve your mood. If you're struggling with having a negative attitude, practice acting happy. It'll be hard at first but as the days go on you'll notice you are trying less and less. Before you know it, you won't be acting at all!

 

4. Be honest

If there is a problem, be honest with yourself; denial won't get you anywhere. If you work with a team, especially if you have a management position, it's important to keep colleagues in the loop. Hiding important information can make a bad situation worse. You don't have to paint the full gory picture, but outright lying can ruin your reputation. Be open and transparent, and who knows, discussing the issue could prompt helpful dialogue.

 

Failure is an important part of success. Remember that things will work out one way or another. Focus on the future and keep setting goals for yourself!

Journey and Destination – Why both are Crucial for Success

There's a famous quote that reads, “It is the journey that matters, not the destination.”

 

Do you think of your career as a journey, or a destination? Is success an end result, or an ongoing process?

 

If you've ever taken a road trip, cruise, or backpacking trip, you probably understand the importance of a journey. Even though there may have been an ultimate destination, many of the fondest memories you had most likely happened along the way. When we think about our careers, we may consider our greatest accomplishments to be the recognitions we receive, lucrative deals we make, or sales goals we reach. But in reality, these accomplishments are just a culmination of the hard work we put in every day (like the miles we drive, the places we visit...).

 

Large accomplishments are actually just a series of small accomplishments. Think about what the ultimate goal in your career would be. For example, if your goal was to be the top-selling real estate agent in your region, how would you accomplish this? This is quite a feat but if you work backwards and look at what it takes – you will realize that it's just a series of attainable goals. If you hope to be number one (the destination), then you will have to get the clients, make the sales, build your brand (the journey). The new leads you acquire, the deals you close, the networking you do - all these daily accomplishments add up and get you to where you want to be. Keep your eye on the prize, but don't forget about the daily processes that will get you there.


The difference between destination and journey boils down to perspective - one focuses on the future, while the other focuses on the here and now. Both are necessary for success. We know that having goals is crucial - the world would not progress if humans didn't have the drive to do better, be better. But we also wouldn't progress if we didn't pay attention to what was happening around us - sometimes we need to make mistakes, change our course or simply take a break.

 

Remember that some days will be more productive than others, some ideas will be brighter than others, and some jobs will be easier than others. There will be days when we feel like we're falling behind or like our failures outnumber our successes – these are the days we need to remind ourselves of the journey. Other times we might get caught up in office politics, or get stressed about a client or a job – these are the days we should remember the destination. Both go hand in hand to create a road map for success.

Feeling Stressed? Try this Relaxation Technique Today

Although stress is a regular part of life, sometimes it can get to a point where we feel overwhelmed.
When stress and anxiety begins to take it's toll, it's time to find a way to get back to a positive and healthy mental state. Learning and mastering relaxation techniques can improve our well being and alleviate physiological and mental strain.
 
Stress affects us physically
 
High-stress situations activate our sympathetic nervous system (think fight or flight response). When we feel angry, anxious or scared, our sympathetic nervous system gets activated. It includes the part of the brain that responds to threats and stress. Our heart rate increases, breathing becomes rapid, blood pressure increases, digestion stops, our muscles tense up and stress hormones are released into our blood stream. That's a lot happening all at once! Our bodies feel unpleasant and we look for ways to feel better during these situations.
 
Coping with stress
 
After some period of time, our parasympathetic nervous system kicks in and brings our physiological changes back down to normal. Relaxation processes are all about changing our physiological state when we are tense, anxious, or angry. Basically, we are shifting attention, and taking control of breathing as a way to jump-start the parasympathetic nervous system.
 
Here's a simple and effective relaxation method developed by Dr. Will Meek. Follow the   sequence all the way through to relax and get into a positive and peaceful mental state:
 
1. Orienting: Pay attention to your immediate surroundings. Visually and mentally recognize where you are right now and what is around you. Think about what you see, what time it is and what is happening. When we are stressed or anxious we are not present – we are consumed by our thoughts and feelings related to something other than our surroundings.
 
2. Grounding: Shifting our attention to our connection with the environment. Relaxation is a physiological process so it's important to direct your attention to your senses. Notice how you are connected to your surroundings. For example, notice how your feet are planted on the floor, or how your back is resting against the chair or how your jacket feels on your body.
 
3. Slowing: Bring your attention to what is happening inside of you. Notice your breathing and your heart rate. The easiest way to control the way our bodies respond in any given moment is to control our breathing. One of the easiest ways to control breathing is called “4-7-8 breathing”. Inhale through your nose for a count of 4, hold it for a count of 7, and then exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. Repeat. Work at a pace that feels good to you. The key is to make the exhale stretch out longer than the inhale. As you do this your heart rate will slow.
 
4. Coaching: Once you have the breathing pace down, keep doing it while you move to the coaching step. The key to this step is giving yourself positive, reassuring, and calm messages. Think positive thoughts like “Everything will be alright”. “I can get through this”. Everyone will have a different message that works for them. You can either be imagining someone you care about saying this to you , or it can just be your inner voice. Keep repeating this along with the breathing until you feel like you can get back to what you are doing.
5. Emerging: The key to this step is calmingly returning back to the present moment. Focus on going back to what you need to do with the same peace of mind you have when you wake up from a satisfying sleep. Gently reemerse yourself back into the flow of your day. Your body and mind should stay in a more relaxed and positive state.
Once you get the sequence down, change it up to fit your needs. Practice every day, the more you do it, the more effective it will be. 

 

Wake up Happier!

Let's be honest -mornings aren't the most pleasant part of most people's day. We're usually waking up groggy, just a little bit too early for our liking. Mornings tend to get a bad rap because many of us don't get enough sleep; we wake up stressed, rushing through our morning routines - always late for something.

Mornings don't have to be bad – the a.m. can become the best, most positive, part of your day. Start your day happy and relaxed with these tips:

1. Let the light in. Open your blinds or curtains half way before you go to bed. When morning comes, your room will fill with natural light and the rising sun will send signals to your brain to slow production of melatonin and start producing adrenaline, signaling that it is time to wake up. This way, when your alarm goes off, you'll already be half awake. 

2. Rise with the sun. If possible, go to bed early enough that you are able to wake up with the sun rise. Get your recommended seven hours of sleep. If you are able to maintain this routine, it is likely that your biological clock with be reliable – you'll be awake with the sun without problems.

3. Give yourself extra time. Set your alarm a little bit earlier. This way you are not rushing out of bed. Begin your day slowly waking up. Stretch, listen to the news, mentally think about what you are going to wear, what you are going to do, and what you'll eat for breakfast. Mentally preparing yourself for your day can do wonders, and remember – don't press the snooze (no matter how tempting it may be!)

4. Stretch. Start stretching even before you get out bed or open your eyes. Start with your fingers, move to your wrists, then your arms. Stretch your toes, feet, ankles, and legs. Sit up, stretch your neck and back – the enhanced flow of blood will provide an extra flow of oxygen to all your tissues.

5. Enjoy the shower. The shower can be a very relaxing part of your morning - if you're not rushing. Take a moment to enjoy the water beating on your back, or have a warm bath if you can. It can be a both simultaneously relaxing and energizing experience. Schedule a little extra bathroom time into your morning routine.

6. Get inspired. Read a motivational quote, recite a poem, or watch a feel-good video. Get yourself in a positive mindframe by exposing yourself to positive words or images first thing in the morning. Have goals you want to keep in mind? Stick a few post-it notes with affirmations on your wall in a place you'll see during your morning routine.

7. Take your vitamins! This is self explanatory. Take your vitamins and make sure you are eating right and drinking plenty of water. When we're healthy we sleep better, have more energy and are generally happier people!

 
8. Make less decisions in the morning. For a truly relaxing morning, make your decisions the night before or save the decision making until after lunch. Decide what clothes to wear, what to eat, what route to take to work the night before. Routinize as much of your morning as possible to save time and headaches.

9. If you drink coffee, make it good. Get a coffee maker with a timer that you can sync with your alarm. Knowing you have a fresh pot of piping-hot coffee waiting for you will motivate you to get out of bed. Drink good coffee. Whole beans are the best for the freshest taste. Many coffee experts recommend using double the amount of coffee that the instructions suggest.

Stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on your immunity. Starting your day happy and relaxed can help increase your chances of a healthy, productive day!

6 Productivity Tips to Try Today

Productivity is about more than doing work and keeping busy. Often, we can be occupied without really making progress towards our goals. It's important to be conscious of what our time and energy is being spent on and being mindful of what needs to get accomplished. Here are 6 tips that will help you prioritize and manage your time for maximum productivity:

 

1. Write it down. Studies show that you are 42 per cent more likely to accomplish a task if you write it down. Don't leave it to your brain to remember and sort through all the things you want done – write them down to help you focus.

 

2. Rethink your to-do list. As mentioned above, writing things down is super important, but there's more to it than just making a list. It's important to have a broad view of all the things that need to be accomplished (plus action items to get you started), but our ability to work on certain tasks will change from day to day. There will be times of the day that are suitable for us to work on our 'number one' action items, but the rest of the time will probably filled up with less important tasks. Be realistic and flexible with your list and don't be hard on yourself if there's something you can't 'check off'.

 

3. Laziness can serve as a filter. It's good to be picky about what you spend your energy on. Be willing to wait for inspiration – something should be really worth your time before you work on it. Remember, there is a difference between being busy and actually working on important tasks.

 

4. Make use of whatever time you have. Being efficient means being creative and using whatever windows of time you have available. Be flexible and willing to switch tasks based on what the situation calls for. There are few times and places we really have the appropriate energy level, tools, and uninterrupted time frames to work on our most important work.

 

5. Focus on one large project at a time. Say you had three ongoing projects, if you switched your energy back and forth between them every day, chances are that you would make progress but not be completely finished any one of them. Focus on one project each week and give yourself a timeline and schedule to finish that. Productivity will increase if you follow the concept of keeping your energy and focus on one thing at a time - shifting focus takes more time and energy than you may think.

 

6. Make schedules and routines. Make schedules for the different aspects of your life. There should be a work calendar, a personal calendar, and a calendar for any creative or business projects you have on the go. When you schedule your day, you are less likely to float around doing random jobs here and there and more likely to actually get things done. Getting into a routine allows you to improve your efficiency and make the best use of your time.

 

When are you most productive? What do you do to ensure you stay on task?

5 Ways to Become a better People Person

In order to gain influence and achieve success, we need people to like us, trust us, and believe in our abilities. Developing amazing people skills is key, but unfortunately, it isn't something that we've been taught in schools. People skills are something we work on and develop every day of our lives. Here are five tips to help bring the 'people person' out in you today:
 
1. Take the time to actually get to know people.
 
Ask the right questions, you know, the ones that people are excited to answer. Small talk is all good and fine but it often results in automatic responses that don't really help you learn about somebody. Getting people to quickly open up is easy when you ask deeper questions and express interest in their answers. Be attentive and present.
 
2. Find something that makes you stand out.
 
When networking at events with hundreds of people, how can you stand out? What good is knowing how to talk to someone when you can't even get them to notice you? One CEO owns over thirty pairs of orange shoes. Why? Because they make him stand out. They're a great conversation starter and have become part of his persona. You don't necessarily need to go out and buy a crazy accessory or outfit, but finding something that sets you apart can be helpful in making you seem both interesting and approachable. If you aren't a natural social super star, you know it can be difficult to spark up a conversation with someone out of nowhere - having something that works as a talking piece can give others an excuse to approach you.
 
3. Tell it, don't sell it.
 
Persuading people is easier when you have an engaging introduction and a compelling story. Captivate your audience with a story and they will be more likely to care about your mission. Be authentic, straightforward and show enthusiasm.
 
4. Raise others up.
 
Promote your colleagues. Share the accomplishments of other people. When you raise others up, people will be much more receptive to share what you have to offer. “A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.” Arnold H. Glasow
 
5. Make your good mood contagious.
 
We tend to take on the attitude of the people we talk to. If you're in a bad mood, it's contagious. If you're full of enthusiasm – it's contagious, too. When people feel enthusiastic and optimistic during a conversation with you, they associate those positive feelings with you. They'll remember that you made them feel good. Being associated with positive feelings will help you to stay top of mind and build better relationships. Be conscious of your mood when communicating and interacting with others.
 
We always strive to leave a good impression on the people we meet. Going above and beyond expectations is what makes us memorable.
 
Always be the best version of yourself. Hold the door open, send a handwritten note, remember important details and most importantly, show people that their time is valuable.
 
Have a few minutes on your hands? Try out
this quiz to see how your people skills fair and let us know how you did!

5 Apps for Tech-Savvy Realtors®

In a competitive industry like real estate, it is important to get an edge wherever you can. Taking advantage of tech tools and software not only helps to make your life easier, but it also benefits your business and your brand.
 
Here are 5 helpful apps for tech-savvy Realtor to try:
 

1. Get locals to know who you are. 

Snapchat Geofilters – Snapchat is a great social media tool for Realtors®, but more specifically, their on-demand geofilters are a fantastic way to get local engagement. Geofilters are an overlay for images that are based on a geographical location and selected time frame. If your target neighbourhood is hosting a popular event, set up a geofilter for that date and location that all local users can access. Get creative with your design. Fun, visually-appealing filters are more likely to get used. Find creative ways to incorporate your own branding or information for an upcoming local event. For as little as $20, you have the potential to get thousands of people to share your filters.
 
2. Create and edit attractive content.

Adobe Spark – Part of excelling in real estate marketing is producing shareable high quality content. If you don't have the budget to shell out on complicated photo and video editing software, Adobe Spark is a great alternative. This free app can be downloaded in the App Store or you can use it right in your desktop browser. Create and edit banners, ads, videos, graphics and newsletters for free.
 
3. Track your time and be more efficient. 

Hours – Hours is a time tracking app that allows you to discover and track how your time is being spent. Discover how long it takes you to complete tasks and monitor what you spend too much or too little time on. You can run reports that explain in detail where you tend to allocate most of your time and how to modify your schedule to be more efficient.
 
4. Give buyers valuable information about their new home.

Centriq Home – This app allows you to take a photo of an appliance label and within 24 hours the system will identify the make and model, display the serial number and pull all relevant manuals and how-to videos for the particular unit. It allows you to store receipts and documents, a list of service providers, notes and home inventory. Why it's good for Realtors®: Allows you to upload your own branding and gift the app to buyers at closing. The buyers will have all the pertinent information about their new home and they'll be seeing your branding and information every time they use the app. Cost: $349 USD annually.
 
5. Share information with clients, right away.

Gboard – Gboard is an iPhone app that allows you to do a Google search right in any app. Instead of leaving iMessage to do a search, selecting and copying information, going back and pasting it, you can now do it all right in the keyboard. This may not be revolutionary, but it is a handy tool to use when emailing or texting clients - allowing you to seamlessly send restaurant info, news articles, reviews, etc,. The search results appear as cards with key information like phone numbers, ratings, and hours and you can respond instantly.
 
With thousands of apps and tech tools out there, the possibilities to grow and maximize your business are endless - the key is to find the tools that work best for you.