How I Balance an 80 Hour Real Estate Work Week with My Family Life

 Jeff LichtensteinGuest blog by Jeff Lichtenstein, a Realtor in Palm Beach FL

As I’m writing this today, I’m managing 60 active listings with 19 homes under contract. I work an 80 hour work week, which could easily be a lot more if I didn’t work smart. Realtors know that I come in way earlier than anyone else (often between 5-6 am) and work harder than anyone else. Other Realtors joke that they couldn’t do what I do because they wouldn’t have a “life”. My first year or two in real estate, I would agree that I didn’t have much free time. Over the years though, I’ve learned how to balance, working an 80 hour work week while maintaining a strong family and personal life.

1. “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. — Benjamin Franklin”

Benjamin Franklin was right on. Being from the Midwest, the news came on at 10pm (as opposed to eastern time 11pm). I’ve always gone to bed by 10. I still get my 7 hours of sleep. This lets me get up at 5 AM and to work by 6 AM. If you want solitude go to a real estate office before 8:30 in the morning! I work at 2-3 times the pace before 8:30AM. I’m fresh and there are no interruptions. I get my paperwork done and prepare for the day. Also, the kids are not up at 5 or 6 in the morning so I’m not missing anything.

2. Dry cleaning

Leave Dry cleaning By The DoorI leave my dry cleaning bag out. How to save 1560 minutes a year! The drycleaners pick the bag up and deliver the dry-cleaning. If I had to worry about dropping and picking up the dry cleaning, it would cost me ½ hour to an hour a week. ½ hour times 4 weeks is 2 hours a month. 2 hours x 12 months is 24 hours. I’d rather have the full day in life than pick up the dry cleaning. Keep a journal of everything you do in your week. You will be shocked at how many time savers there are.

3. Delegate

Be like Ronald Reagan and delegate everything. I email and give power to delegate to my administrative person and my assistant Realtor. I let the receptionist set up showings. Train your staff correctly the first time and it will save you hours later on.

4. Gadgets

There are all sorts of technology to speed up time. Our team uses an app called Note*spark ( This lets us share all of our showing instructions so we aren’t in a desperate search for phone numbers and emails. Use technology.

5. Simplify

I have one laptop. I don’t use a desktop or even an Ipad for daily use. I take it everywhere I go. I have found that having too much stuff can slow you up.

6. Family Time

Family TimeSet appointments for family. Friday Breakfasts with the kids! I have been doing this since my oldest was in kindergarten. In 9 years I’ve missed 3 Friday breakfasts. It’s a great time to connect with the kids and give your spouse a day off.

7. Exercise

I work out with a trainer one day a week at 5:30 PM and we have a family appointment on Saturdays. Again, set an appointment. The family work out is terrific as we all do it together with the trainer. It takes care of a work out and family time all in one!

8. Saturday OFF

I take Saturday off. If a deal is being negotiated or there is an emergency, I’ll take the call. Otherwise, I let my assistant deal with it. If a buyer wants to meet on Saturday only, than we refer it out. I change my message for that day to defer all calls to my assistant. I also tell my clients up front about how I operate. If you talk to them about it in the beginning, you won’t have issues, as people are very understanding once it’s explained to them. If you don’t have an assistant, partner up with another Realtor and help them out for a day they want off.

9. Don’t socialize at the office

Office time is work time. Don’t hang out at the water cooler and gossip.

10. Date Night

Saturday night is for me and my wife. Standing date. Leave the Smart Phone in the car. Enough said.

11. Positive Outlook

A positive outlook also helps get me through the tough parts of the day. Each morning I write down 2 people that I’m grateful for and why. Real estate is a tough career. We are always on call. However other industries have their pitfalls. In a previous life, I worked in textile sales. I traveled 35 weeks a year. Others commute from the suburbs to New York and spend 2 hours on a train. We are home each night and our commute is usually negligible. We also set our own hours. Be grateful for what you have and use those advantages to balance your life.

Jeff Lichtenstein is a Florida Realtor specializing in Palm Beach real estate. Jeff is a mild-mannered but driven real estate agent dedicated to his customers. He is an early riser, most often at work at 5 or 6 am to put in an average of 80 hours per week. You can reach Jeff via his website, telephone at (561) 346-8383 or e-mail

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