Are You Productive, or Just Busy?

As we approach each day with our ‘to do lists’ there is a genuine risk that our days can be spent being ‘busy’ with ‘activities’ as opposed to being productive on specific outcomes. When you consider that as agents, we are paid for results and not time and effort, Rik Rushton says that it is critical that you are conscious of how you invest your time.

Having worked in our Industry for more than 20 years and having the great fortune to coach elite sales professionals throughout Australasia, I have found seven things any agent at any level can do to become more productive and dollar productive instantly.


  • Plan your day/week/month/quarter/year the day/ week/ month/ quarter/year before you actually work it. Plan your work then work your plan. Have your outcomes for each day highlighted. They need to be specific and relevant – for example, “I will get a price correction today”. “I will bring that tough buyer in line with the market reality today”.
  • Arrive one hour earlier to the office than your colleagues, ready to work your plan and either stay late by one extra hour one or two nights in your week, or miss a meeting of the same duration this next week. That way you have gained an extra eight hours to become more productive.
  • Group your appointments so that you are in/out of the office for large blocks of time.
  • All paper work should be either done or delegated prior to 9 am to avoid office distractions and interrupting the flow of your production.


  • Change your voicemail message every day noting the date in your message. “Thanks for calling on Tuesday the 1st of May….” This lets clients know you are disciplined and will portray confidence to the client that their message will be returned promptly.
  • You decide when to take in-coming phone calls and return all calls in “batches”. New calls will keep coming in all day so you will need to control their flow. Train your personal assistant or receptionist to say: “Where will you be between 1.00pm-3.00pm and I will have Rik return your call on that number then?”
  • You set the agenda for the call: “This is a business call….” You also decide when to end the phone call. “Great talking to you and I must go now!”


  • Write “thank you” notes whilst you are still talking on the phone using one of the key points of the conversation to optimise the impact of the note: “Great to talk to you today & congratulations on your son’s school report….you must be very proud!”
  • E-mail. This is without doubt the very best way to communicate efficiently and a great way to avoid telephone tag! Always send every email with a read receipt!
  • Standardise any letter used more than once, allowing for insert sections to personalise where appropriate to improve your processes.
  • Try to remember that three meaningful words are better than 33 of small talk when writing notes.


  • Never attend a meeting that does not have an agenda with a clear finish time!
  • Set odd times for meetings with non-productive people. Chances are they will not keep them and you are free to be more productive. 7.10am works wonders for me! Get as much information emailed to you prior to a meeting to avoid wasting time ‘in the meeting’.
  • Use a highlighter pen when reading any meeting articles so that you can find the relevant points when you have to refer to it again.
  • Minimise interruptions. When some one asks: “Do you have a minute?” Always respond with; “If you need a minute now the clock is running, but if you come back at 6:45pm I can give you 30 minutes then”. If they actually chose the later, (and my experience is they rarely do), ensure they come back with not only their challenge but a solution for it as well. Odds are they will solve it themselves in the meantime!

Set odd times for meetings with non-productive people. Chances are they will not keep them and you are free to be more productive. 7.10am works wonders for me!


Delegate and trust others. You need to be freed up to do the dollar productive stuff that you are skilled at and let others do the low leverage items that are necessary to your business success; but not vital for your personal involvement! “If you don’t have a PA ….you are a PA”! I heard that at NAR way back in 1998 and I have found this to be very true!


  • Do the difficult tasks in your day first.
  • Take responsibility for each of your outcomes. I will often tell my team that I make wrong decisions from time to time, but I am never indecisive! Remember experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted!
  • Learn to say no to certain requests and ensure that you do your chosen ones superbly.
  • Buddy up with someone in your office to use as an accountability partner. Without accountability nothing of long term value is possible. With it, nothing is impossible.
  • What is the best use of my time now?” Keep asking yourself that question.

Remember experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted!


Run the tape at the end of the day and give an account of your outcomes. My wife will ask me only one business question when I arrive home at the end of my working day: “What was the best outcome you achieved today?” Never miss an opportunity to let your loved ones know what you were doing whilst you weren’t with them. When you get in to that discipline, you will find extraordinary ways to report to your partner/family the outcomes you have created in your business day!

Real Estate is an Industry that rewards results; not time and effort. I hope that these 7 Handy hints can add value to your business life!

Show More

Rik Rushton

Rik Rushton has been a peak performance coach, platform speaker, conference emcee and trusted advisor to many of the leading brands, organisations and professional sports teams throughout Australasia since 1995.