How Real Estate Agents Can Take a Break Without Damaging Business

Lindsie Tomlinson
May 30, 2016

With summer nearly here, and the spring market having been one of the busiest ones yet, many REALTORS® will be ready for a holiday.

The number one complaint I hear from colleagues is how hard it is to achieve “work-life balance”. Real estate can be 24/7, with lots of evenings, weekends and on-call work required. We are tied to our cell phones and in this day of instant messaging and emails, most clients expect a response within 22 minutes – an obscure stat that I recently heard!

I’m a mom of two young kids and they have told me at times they wished I had a different job. I’ve missed bedtimes and soccer games, but I do make a point of taking a real break from work occasionally. Over spring break this year, we took a family holiday to Nicaragua for two weeks and I (gasp!) left my cell phone at home. It was heaven! I was fully present and engaged and lived in the moment for two whole weeks of quality family time – a much-needed change of pace.

Make the Most of Mini-Breaks

I understand that living without a cell phone for two weeks will feel impossible for most people, no matter what their profession.

But everyone needs a break! So here is how to take a real break from your real estate business, without your clients having to suffer: Take a mini-break.

Most people take two days off from work in a week, but when you work for yourself, that can be difficult to do. Entrepreneurs can have a hard time “turning off”, but if you don’t, you’ll burn out. No matter how busy you are, you can afford to turn off for one day a week, or at the very least, a few hours. Turning off your cell phone and staying away from email for three or four hours can make all the difference when it comes to recharging your batteries.

Four key things you can do to boost your energy:

  1. Go to bed early – schedule this for one day a week.
  2. Nutrition – eat something healthy. I’m not talking all the time, I’m talking about one meal, once a day (and it still counts if it’s not kale).
  3. Exercise. It doesn’t have to be the Grouse Grind. Go for a walk, take a bike ride, do a yoga class. Just move your body. (Driving your car or typing on your computer are not considered exercise!)
  4. Turn off your business (cell phone and all other electronics) for as long as you can handle. The minimum time is three hours. Go for a hike, take your kids to the park, go fishing, play a round of golf, take a nap, surprise someone with a lunch date. Whatever it is you do, do it without your phone. Leave a temporary voicemail message on your phone letting callers know that you are unavailable but will be returning calls at a set time. This should alleviate any fears on the part of your clients that you’ve abandoned them.

How to Take a Longer Break

Now that I’ve eased you into it, here’s how to take a real break. One that will remind you of being a kid on summer vacation, where a day felt like a week and two months seemed to last an eternity. That kind of a break.

  • Get a partner! Partner up with a trusted colleague and agree to take care of each other’s business while the other goes on holiday. You should agree on a commission rate for any contracts they get accepted beforehand, and put the agreement in writing. Let all your clients know that you are taking a holiday and that you are leaving them in good hands.
  • Forward your cell phone to this person and set up an “out of office” response for your emails, directing clients to your partner. Allow them to treat your clients as if they were their own. If they do a bunch of work for you but don’t end up with a firm sale at the end of the day, you can buy them a gift or treat them to lunch as a thank you. But the real thank you will come later when you handle their business while they are away.
  • Try to surrender control and enjoy your holiday, but if you absolutely must check in, limit emails to something reasonable, like an hour every other day.

As this article is being published, Lindsie is on a plane to Europe, so any inquiries will be directed to her business partner Soriah for the next two weeks as she puts her tips into practice and enjoys her vacation.

Lindsie Tomlinson
Lindsie Tomlinson is a Vancouver-based REALTOR® who specializes in helping first-time home buyers and sellers, and growing families find the right home in the right neighbourhood. A Certified Negotiation Expert and regular contributor to, Lindsie is a proud supporter of Backpack Buddies and the Children's Miracle Network. Her passion for real estate, and for building lifelong relationships with her clients, has put her in the top 10% of Greater Vancouver Realtors®.