You can schedule every waking minute of every day, but that won’t help you better manage your time if you can’t stick to the schedule. That’s why you need to accurately estimate how long a task or meeting will take and take other measures to move along your day. 

Here are ways to create good estimates and keep your schedule on track.

Use Past Performance

Track for a month how long your listing appointments last. Throw out any outliers—the four-hour meeting with the lonely seller, the three-hour roundtrip to an area where you rarely do business—and take the average to give you a solid estimate. You can use the same technique for other recurring tasks, such as lead generation activities, catching up with past clients, bill paying, monthly accounting, etc. 

Don’t Be Afraid to End Meetings 

Often, people don’t know how to end meetings. They linger and make small talk after the agenda is complete, fearing that it’s rude to formally end the conversation.  However, there’s nothing rude with saying, “We’re nearing the end of our scheduled 30 minutes, and I want to be respectful of your time. Is there anything else you’d like to discuss before we end today?”

Build in Breaks

Four hours of back-to-back client calls may look like a great use of your time when you schedule them; however, it’s likely that you’ll burn out before you’re done and need a break, which will throw off later parts of your schedule. Make sure you have breaks as part of your schedule. They’ll give you needed downtime and serve as a cushion when an appointment occasionally runs over. 

Aim High

If you’re scheduling a task and have no idea how long it will take, use your longest guess. For example, you’re meeting a buyer and have four potential properties to show him. You’ve asked how many he’s interested in seeing, but he hasn’t given you an answer. Block enough time to see them all.   

These simple strategies can improve your time management and make your schedule more realistic.