As the real estate landscape becomes more competitive, agents are forced to perform an intricate balancing act every day, including planning open houses and showings, communicating with their current clients, generating leads and staying up-to-date on changes in the housing market.

However, one of the biggest challenges is also one of the most basic, not limited to any one professional or any one industry: time management.

Effective time management can make the difference between being at the top of your game and struggling to meet your sales goals. So whether or not you made New Year’s resolutions for your career this year, chances are your time management skills could use a little polishing.

There are five keys that can help make 2018 your best year yet as a real estate agent.

First, start each day with a plan. You can examine your list of goals for the year and determine the short- and long-term actions you need to take in order to reach them. There will be certain occasions when emergencies arise or priorities change, but try to follow this plan as closely as possible.

Next, learn to delegate. Sure, it can be hard to cede control of certain aspects of your business, but there may be tasks for your team or administrative staff to complete — for example, sending out marketing materials or managing social media. Just make sure that everyone knows what their assignments are and what deadlines to expect so you can all be on the same page and keep things running smoothly.

Set blocks of time in your schedule. By doing this, you will know ahead of time just how much time you can devote to a certain task. For instance, you may open your email inbox and see dozens of new messages. Too often, agents get caught up wanting to answer all of them at once. Instead, create an automatic email response and schedule select times during your day to respond in full.

Next, set realistic expectations. When working with clients, it’s important that they know what to expect in each interaction with you, whether you’re sending them an email about potential homes, scheduling an open house or showing, or guiding them through the home financing process. If your clients stay well-informed throughout every step of the process, they will be more confident and you can feel more at ease.

Finally, take a break. You cannot forget to rest. It may sound cliché, but you have to unplug and give yourself time to relax. Some agents think it’s harmless to just work one more hour or respond to a few more emails, but that can lead to a quick burnout. By resting, you actually can boost your productivity and improve your motivation and creativity.