The Thing: How one of Canada's top commercial mortgage agents improved productivity

Daniela Peeva explains how a simple COVID-19-related tweak has made life easier for her, her clients and her family

The Thing: How one of Canada's top commercial mortgage agents improved productivity

Welcome to The Thing: a new, recurring feature here at MBN that we invite you all to take part in. Each edition of The Thing will examine one adjustment made by Canadian mortgage professionals during their careers that instantly made work more efficient, more profitable or simply more enjoyable; one of those changes that made you think, “Man, why didn’t someone tell me about this years ago?”

This is an opportunity for the mortgage community to share strategies and tactics that make everyone’s lives easier, including your clients’. We encourage all mortgage pros – brokers, managers, admin staff, execs – who want to share a lesson they’ve learned to message MBN’s editor directly at [email protected]. There’s no cost involved, and all we’ll need from you to potentially change a fellow agent’s life for the better is a few minutes on the phone.

In March, when COVID-19 turned most Canadians who still had a job into remote workers, mortgage brokers were faced with the prospect of combining their already high levels of work stress with the everyday challenges of family life. Even the industry’s top producers were struggling.

“I was getting absolutely frustrated and overwhelmed with what was happening,” says Mortgage Alliance Commercial vice-president Daniela Peeva. “When you have limited time – because in the morning you’re dealing with kids and you’re working a lot shorter hours than you were before – it’s impossible. It’s completely unproductive.”

One of the biggest challenges Peeva experienced was getting clients on the phone. With so many panicked clients worried about the fate of their deals, tenants and properties, hers was ringing constantly. But even the best brokers can only speak to so many people at once.

Peeva’s solution: time-blocking. She began dedicating a two-hour chunk of her day solely to fielding scheduled calls with her clients.

Some brokers may balk at the idea of telling their clients they can only call at a certain time of the day, but Peeva says that’s not the deal.

“I’m not telling them they can’t call me 24-7,” she says. “I’m telling them, ‘Follow the link and book a time that’s convenient for both of us, so when you call me you actually get me on the phone. I’m available every single day, but on my terms.”

Peeva says time-blocking has done magic for both her business and her family. She feels more organized and prepared for her calls, and the tension that comes from trying to be productive around children too young to understand what the word even means has been greatly decreased.

“I know that from 12 until two o’clock, the kids are not coming in. They know they’re not coming in my office, that I’m on the phone doing different things. I also know that between 12 and two I have someone looking after the kids,” she says.

Peeva’s clients have responded enthusiastically to the change. Many of them no longer need to be reminded to book their calls in advance; they just click the link she now includes in her email signature.

For time-blocking to truly be effective, Peeva says anyone trying it must stick to the times they set for certain tasks. There’s no point in blocking off an hour for researching a project if 20 of those minutes are going to be spent tending to other duties, like answering texts or calls. Peeva is adamant that time-blocking and multi-tasking, which has been proven to be a myth over and over, do not mix.

“Multi-tasking doesn’t work,” Peeva says, especially when important goals are at stake. “People should really block off the activities they’re going to do. Take your five or ten priorities, put them in your calendar and then go from there.”