Attention future CREA Presidents! You don’t have to quit your day jobs

I was asked recently whether I’ve had to put my work as a real estate agent/broker on hold while I attend to my responsibilities as President of CREA. I’m happy to report the answer is no! I’ve learned a few lessons over the years that have helped me balance both roles. I’d like to share a few of those with you today in case you’re interested in taking on a volunteer role (which I would strongly encourage you to do).

  1. Find an opportunity that fits your life now and keeps the door open for other opportunities later.

Although I joined my first Board of Directors early on in my career and have been a Director at the local, provincial, and national level, there have been years in between when I have had less time to devote to a board position so instead sat as a member of committees. There are many different ways to be involved as a volunteer in our industry and I don’t think there are any small roles. Any contribution you can make to improve our industry or your community is time well spent in my book.

If now’s not the right time in your life to take on added responsibilities as a volunteer for whatever reason, that doesn’t mean the time won’t be right later. And don’t forget, most volunteer commitments are limited to specific term lengths, so you don’t have to worry about signing your life away.

  1. Segment your time and prioritize tasks.

It’s no secret that the biggest commitment for any volunteer is time. When I was President of my provincial Association, I was away from my business 160 days of that year! I learned quickly that I had to segment my time and prioritize tasks.

For example, at the start of each day, I know there are things I need to do for CREA that are urgent and there are things I need to do for my business that are urgent. I assign each task a grade, with “A” being the most urgent and the tasks I get to first. I grade semi-urgent tasks with “B” and get to them next. I grade remaining tasks with “C” and focus on them if time permits.

I also still rely on my paper day planner. Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve always found it easier to write something down on paper while I’m talking on my smartphone. I also get a feeling of real satisfaction from physically scratching things off my list!

I must admit, however, that I am and always have been a workaholic. I start my day very early and I tend to end it very late.

  1. Have a good team behind you and keep things in perspective.

As CREA President, I do a fair bit of travelling across the country. I am thankful I have a great crew of people in my day-to-day business who can help take care of things back home when I’m on the road.

Sometimes I have to pass on opportunities I would usually be involved in, because my plate is already full with the demands of my work as a real estate agent/broker and a volunteer. At times like these, I remind myself that taking a leadership role, such as President of a national association, requires sacrifice but it’s just one year of my life (at a time) and there are such great benefits for me personally and for my career.

I get to work alongside great, knowledgeable people, share ideas and insights with them, and call them my friends.  I get to be in the know about how our industry is changing and I can help make things better for my fellow REALTORS®, Canadian homebuyers, and our communities.

Editor’s Note: If you are interested in serving your profession and sharing your talents with those in the REALTOR® community, contact your local or provincial Board or Association to learn about what opportunities exist where you live. To learn more about volunteering at the national level with CREA, please visit

Pauline Aunger was President of CREA for 2015. Pauline previously served as a Director-at-Large on the CREA Board of Directors. She has been a REALTOR® since 1977 and is the Broker of Record with Royal LePage Advantage Real Estate, Brokerage in Smiths Falls and Perth, Ontario. She is a member and Past President of the Rideau St. Lawrence Real Estate Board where she served as Chair of the Political Affairs Committee and as a member of Professional Standards Committee. Pauline is a member of the Ottawa Real Estate Board and also a Past President of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) and served on many committees including as a member of the Board of Governors of the OREA Foundation and on the Federal Affairs Committee for CREA.

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