There’s an old weather adage that refers to the month of March as coming “in like a lion” and going “out like a lamb.” For a farmer keenly observing the weather patterns, this statement sounds pleasing and agreeable. But, for a real estate agent with a solid business plan and new sales goals for the year, this statement would be better received to say March will come in like a lamb and go out like a lion.

So, how do you ramp up your March productivity to ensure you’re prepared for the spring season? According to Ryan O’Neill, successful team leader of The Minnesota Real Estate Team with RE/MAX Advantage Plus in Lakeville, MN, and the #1 RE/MAX team in the world for transactions in 2014, it comes down to two things: lead generation and time management.

“In an industry where you can’t control when people will pull the trigger to buy or sell a house,” says O’Neill, “the best you can do in advance is to get ready for when that day comes.”

O’Neill offers that if your March schedule provides you a lot of free time, you need to fill it by focusing one daily task on an activity that will bring you more face-to-face time with your clients.   “Part of our job is to form a relationship with our clients. It’s very hard to do that if you don’t connect with people. If you have time in your day, send a note to a past client. Pick up the phone and call someone you recently met at an open house to set up a coffee date. Show interest in them and let them know you’re available, whenever they are.”

O’Neill also suggests keeping yourself consistently busy. If you’re able to fill your down time in March by making phone calls, and meeting clients, when you start to get busy in April and May with listing appointments and showings, you can feel confident that more business will come in from the contacts you made earlier.

In addition to focusing your time on connecting with potential leads, O’Neill says it’s also important to manage your time. He suggests creating a daily to-do list that you prioritize, focusing on the most important item first. “I’ve found that some agents don’t slow down enough to think about how they’re using their time. They’re running all over and crisscrossing their own paths. They’re busy but they’re not efficient.”

“Slow down, take a breath,” says O’Neill, “and if you need to, ask for help.” But, if you start your day by creating a fresh to-do list, topping it with the most important thing first, then dropping the rest in, in an order that makes the most sense of your time, you’ll discover how efficient you can be.

O’Neill says he understands how taxing lead generation and time management can be; however, he counters it with this final thought: “If you as an agent ever feel like it’s a waste of time, don’t forget what can happen down the road. That phone call you made and coffee date you set, while it might not bring you new business tomorrow, it will make an impression on that person. They might tell their friends about you, and their friends might want to meet you when they’re ready to pull the trigger.”