Written by Sue Haviland, as originally published in The Reverse Review.

You’ve heard it said many times before: We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Have you noticed, though, when your reverse mortgage pipeline is shrinking, you seem to be able to get less done in the day? Is it that you’re worried about your production? That seems like the easy answer but I think there is more to it than that.

The timing for this article in interesting – we just finished the first half of the year. Are you where you want to be?

Indulge me here for a moment. Go back and look at your calendar. How are you scheduling your time? Is the focus on productive activities that bring in loans, or have you fallen victim to busywork? Personally, I normally have several different projects going at one time. It’s just the way I work best. Between writing, loan origination, coaching, committee work with NRMLA and personal and family interests, there’s a lot going on … BUT it’s all very structured. This did not happen overnight and it did not happen without a plan.

First, think about this: Are you a morning person or are you at your peak in the afternoon? Structure your activities around that time. For example, I am an early bird. I write for at least two publications each week: a senior-oriented magazine in Maryland, Reverse Fortunes (find me under Lead Central) and of course The Reverse Review. Over the years I have learned that I need to do my writing early in the day. Those projects are normally off my to-do list before the phones start ringing and before I look at email. Schedule your time in blocks. Your best block may be an hour at a time. I find that I work best in about 45-minute increments. And yes, I actually set up these time blocks and use a timer!

Second, take a look around your office. Go head, do it now. What distractions are in front of you right now? Your phone (landline), your cell/smartphone, your computer, other people? Don’t let the time vampires get in your way and cause you to lose focus. If you have a door, shut it. Turn off the phone, etc., if you are working on a marketing piece or a presentation. Whatever is on your calendar for that time slot, let nothing stand in your way. Think about this: If you had a reverse mortgage application scheduled right now, and you knew it was going to be a slam-dunk loan – borrower and the kids are on board, house is in beautiful condition, you are confident about the value – what would keep you from that appointment? I venture to say almost nothing. Treat everything on your calendar and your project list as though it were that reverse mortgage application. Another tie-in to this message is the time we spend on email and other outlets. Don’t let these potential distractions get in the way of your productivity. Don’t get me wrong; social media is extremely important and sharing your thoughts and ideas with your peers, customers and prospects should be part of your overall plan, but don’t get sidelined. Book the time for this activity the same as you would any other. When you see the latest shiny object, don’t allow yourself to be pulled off course. Stay with your plan. Often, when I am consulting with Reverse Mortgage Success members, this becomes the topic. Keeping that laser focus and eliminating distractions is sometimes tough to do, but it is necessary.

Third, look in the mirror. This may sound a bit odd, but how is your mindset? When you look in the mirror can you say that you are focused and on schedule, or just floundering and waiting for a loan to drop in your lap? Mindset and time management can go hand in hand. When you are busy writing loans, you are on your game and you just seem to get things done. Keep that momentum going … surround yourself with like-minded achievers, not the time vampires I referred to earlier. Study the habits of successful originators and see how they structure their time. Are you doing $10-per-hour work? Consider hiring an assistant. Can’t afford to pay someone? Check with your local colleges. Students often need to gain some real-world experience. Need someone to hold your feet to the fire? Get a coach.

My timer is about to go off, so I need to bring this article to a close. Look at your calendar, prioritize your time, and structure your day the way it works best for YOU. Now get out there and help some seniors!