How to Grow Your Business By Designing & Executing Systems & Processes

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Several months ago BiggerPockets’ own Brandon Turner was in San Francisco for a week.

We organized a fantastic meet-up in the city and had great conversations with local BiggerPockets members.

During the event Brandon turns to me and says, “Hey, when are you going to get back into writing for the site again?!”

At my own admission, I’ve shifted my focus over the past half year to my new west coast market and business endeavors. Consequently, it’s pulled me away from collecting my thoughts and turning out articles for the site.

Looking back, I realized this was a perfect way to learn from the systems I’ve built in my own business and apply them to my involvement with BiggerPockets.  I’ve learned that systems are crucial for my work and I would suspect they are for you as well.

There are SO MANY aspects of the real estate game that one could focus on, learn more about, and execute on. It’s immensely difficult to keep oneself on track and march towards one’s professional goals.

Simplifying Your Business with Systems is Essential for Growth

One thing I’ve picked up from entrepreneurs both in the real estate industry and other fields is that systems–learned over time–keep one focused, motivated, and in a place where they can effectively measure their progress.

It is so easy to get pulled in 10,000 directions when exploring, starting, and growing in the real estate game.  If you’re in a place where new systems can help you in your business, here are a few ways to build them:

Task Tracking

Whether it’s on a white board, calendar, software, or good old notepad, daily/weekly/monthly task tracking can be very helpful when faced with a monumental to-do list. If you’re inclined to track tasks on your computer or phone, here are a few great resources:

  • Wunderlist - This is a wonderful tool for organizing project tasks with multiple people.
  • Asana - Similar to Wunderlist, this program can effectively organize project tasks with multiple parties.  Starting a business or have a business partner? Try Asana out to keep tasks front of mind.
  • Snail – Mac App that times and tracks tasks on your desktop.
  • Do One Thing – If you’ve got a Mac, Do One Thing could be a useful app for your desktop. This app keeps one task in front of you (via the top of your desktop) at all times.  It’s simple (it reminds you to do one thing).
  • Google Calendar - I’ve got 2 calendars (personal & work) synced to my phone and email.  When I need a reminder of future calendar items on my plate, they are at my fingertips.
  • Google Drive – This is a fantastic resource because you can keep documents, spreadsheets, and notes in the cloud and access them on any device with an internet connection.

Block out Buckets of Time

Our modern work day is a jumbled mess. If you’re like me your day could quickly turn into this if you aren’t careful: meetings, emails, calls, reading, following up, research, planning. With all these competing items, it can be very difficult to properly organize one’s time.

I’ve learned to love organizing buckets of time throughout my day.

Here are a few examples: try not scheduling any calls until after 10am, focus the first 2 hours of your day on your most important project, keep every day after 4pm (when possible) as time allotted to long term goals/thinking/planning.

Organizing my days into buckets has helped keep me sane when I’m faced with so much day-to-day work.

Email

I both love and hate email.  Despite being an effective means of communication it is unfortunately a necessary evil of our modern working environment because it can quickly zap your time and energy.

If you’re faced with a never ending inbox, try this: only check and reply to email at set times throughout your day (maybe it’s 8am, noon, and 4pm).

I picked this up from a developer recently when I got a reply from him. In his signature it read: “I only check my email once in the morning and once in the evening. If it’s urgent, call me at this number: xxx-xxx-xxx.” While I haven’t gone to this extreme in email checking, I thought this was brilliant and I’ve tried to adopt the mentality in my own email habits.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with email, it might be worth a try.

Productivity

Looking for a technique for measuring and improving your productivity? Give these methods a try:

Everyone works at different paces and through different systems.  The above strategies, tools, and techniques may not be your cup of tea. If you’re looking to implement new systems into your day, try testing a few things out. See what works. Then try to build and grow off that foundation.

Properly built systems could help you achieve more in your real estate career.
Photo Credit: drubuntu

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About Author

Kyle is the creator of realestate-java.com, a blog dedicated to commercial real estate development. Kyle is also a real estate development associate with Blu Homes, Inc. His company focuses on building sustainable homes throughout the country.

10 Comments

  1. Great post Kyle.

    Entrepreneurs have this ongoing thought process that is hard to reign in most of the time. And most of us admit to having “shiny object syndrome”. So it’s vital that we learn how to structure our days and to block out some time to get actual work done.

    Darren Hardy says in his book “The Compound Effect” the same thing you pointed out about the beginning and the end of our days. He calls it bookending. He says that you typically have more control over those particular times of day – at the beginning and the end, and that we may have very little control over how the middle of the day turns out. So it’s really important to make the most of those times.

    You are the second person in 2 days that has mentioned Asana. I guess I had better check that out.

    Sharon

    • Sharon, I just put The Compound Effect on my to-read list. Thanks for the recommendation!

      I’m a big fan of bookending–beginning of the day on the most important tasks, end of the day on more long-term planning (when possible).

  2. I’d like to get some feed-back on how some of the solutions on the market today compare to the Taza Systems modules. I know about some of them like Resnet, Yardi, Propertyware, Equater; and there are many others. I’d like to hear about some experiences good and bad that Agents have had with these systems and if they know about any others in the industry. I have heard that some Agencies have their own in-house systems also. What I understand is that if you have less than 20 properties to handle then you can just use the personal tools that are mentioned in this article, but if you have 30 or more properties then it becomes difficult to handle all of the details without a well designed solution; is this a correct premise to assume? I’m looking forward to the reality from the view of hard working successful RE Agents.

  3. Hi Ron. Thanks for your feedback and questions. I haven’t had much experience with robust property management software like Yardi or Timberline myself. I’m sure others could weigh in that have more specific experience in this realm.

  4. Hi Kyle, great article. Sometimes for me it just comes down to a simple sticky note at the end of the business day to prioritize the next day. When the phone starts ringing off the hook, emails are flooding in, 15 shiny things start to happen and I get near overwhelmed on what to do next, I always refer back to that days list. It sets me up for a productive day (by acknowledging the most important things that need to happen the next day), and brings me back to my priorities when the day starts to get away. There are more complex systems for this, but it’s all the same basic premise.

    • I definitely agree with the post-it notes (sometimes I go a bit overboard). I tend to write down a few big tasks at the end of the day and put them on my keyboard or phone.

  5. Jordan Thibodeau on

    Great Article Kyle.

    I use asana for all of my real estate related work. When I work with contractors, I require that they use asana, post pictures of completed jobs onto the asana project, and notify me when the work is complete. It’s a great way to coordinate your contractors, property managers, and agents. Also, you can track how much work you’re putting into a specific property by seeing how many tasks you are logging on that property via asana. Then you can take your cash flow and divide by the time invested to see what your hourly rate turned out to be.

    Then, I use asan to delineate between working in my business and working ON my business. So I set up a section for real estate education and improving business processes.

    • Very interesting use of Asana, Jordan. I think you’re taking it to a whole new level (much more than I considered). I’m going to have to try out your techniques. Thanks!

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