Death By Procrastination: How to Defeat The Enemy of Your Success In Real Estate

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In this business of real estate investing, there are so many things we need to do on a daily basis that it’s easy to put of projects and postpone the implementation of those big ideas we have in the back of our minds. Procrastination can become such a habit we no longer recognize it. Have you ever given any serious thought to just how this one bad habit is affecting your business and your bottom line? Most of the time, the majority of real estate investors are completely unaware of those costs. But I can tell you that your failure to act on things you know you should be doing is costing you plenty of money. You can put an end to this vicious money sucking cycle just by ending procrastination (which admittedly is easier said than done).

The 3 Stooges; “Woulda’, Shoulda’ and ‘Coulda’”

Think about this for just a minute; how many times have we all announced to the world (or just our spouse and friends) that a new project was on the horizon. Related: Procrastination: The Thief of Time and Accomplishment In that moment we are so full of excitement about our project, our plan or – you fill in the blanks – whatever our “new thing” is.  In that moment we fully intend to follow through on our commitment. But later when someone asks us about that “project” we are forced to say –

  • It’s on my list
  • I have it on my calendar
  • I will get to it next week (next month, or after the holidays).

I suspect we have all been guilty of this.  We just get caught up in the day to day activities of our businesses. “Woulda’, shoulda’ and coulda’” get in the way again. One way to attack this problem is by doing the thing you dread the most or have been putting off longest by doing an exercise called “Eat that Frog” (I wrote about that in a previous post you can find here).

Words of Wisdom by Seth

I read a blog post recently that was written by Seth Godin titled “Set a Date”.  Anyone that reads his posts knows that Seth is typically a man of few words- at least at one time.  In this particular post he said:

If you haven’t announced a date, you’re not serious. Pick a date. It can be far in the future. Too far, and we’ll all know that you’re merely stalling. A real date, a date we can live with and a date you can deliver on. If your project can’t pass this incredibly simple test, it’s not a project. Deliver whatever it is you say you’re working on on the date you said you would, regardless of what external factors interfere. Deliver it even if you don’t think it’s perfect.  You picked the date. And as a professional, the career-making habit is this: once you set a date, never miss a date. Now those are words of wisdom.

Related: Not Another Goal Setting Post! Really? Really! (With a Twist…)

Indecision Is Not Your Friend

You might be wondering what sent me down this whole path once again. It’s really simple; it was an email I received a few days ago from someone asking if I would mentor her.  The first sentence in her email was:   “I’ve been thinking about getting ready to invest in real estate”. She then went on to tell me all of the reasons she had delayed getting started (none of which were really valid reasons) including the one about needing a new car. She never mentioned that there was a problem with her car, but for some reason she needed a new one before getting started. She closed out her request by saying, “When I finally decide if this is right for me, will you help me?  I know I can’t get started until after the kids are out of school for the summer, and we get back from vacation at the end of July”.  (I wonder if she is getting the new car before her vacation). Seriously?

Make a Decision

We have all been guilty of procrastination from time to time, but doing this on a regular basis will cripple your real estate investing business.

  • Do you want to start doing direct mail?  What’s the date?  Where are you getting your mail pieces?  Decide and put it on a calendar.
  • Are you thinking about cold calling FISBO’s or expired listings? Then start tonight.  If you can’t start tonight, when can you start? Put it on the calendar.
  • Have you been thinking about hiring a virtual assistant to take some of the workload off your shoulders?  Just log onto Odesk or one of the other similar sites and see what they have to offer.  When can you do that? Put it on the calendar.

Once you can do that on a regular basis, you will end procrastination forever (or at least until you get another swift kick in the butt).

The trick to doing anything is just these two things:

  1. Decide you are going to do it
  2. Put it on the calendar; schedule it

That’s it.  It’s simple, but it’s not always easy (just like real estate investing).

I’m Back on the Hook

I’m always putting myself “on the hook” for things I’m not getting done. I did that this week when I announced on Facebook that I would be getting up one hour earlier each day to kick “Woulda, Shoulda’ and Coulda” off my list where a project was concerned. My solution was to get up 1 hour earlier each day and spend at least 2 hours the first thing in the morning on my project until I get the writing done.  Since I don’t really like getting up that early, I plan to be focused and get this done ASAP. I’m hoping that the “Compound Effect” will kick in and help me take a giant leap once this project is finished. (I wrote about that book too here).  At least that’s my plan for ending my procrastination for this project. How do you overcome procrastination? Be sure to leave your comments below!

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About Author

Sharon has been investing in real estate since 1998. She owned and operated a successful home inspection company for 17 years. In January of 2008 she took the leap of closing her business to become a full time real estate investor.

13 Comments

  1. Brandon Turner

    Thanks for the post, Sharon! I like your idea of getting up an hour early and working 2 hours on that one project. I’ve been doing a similar thing lately, but the closer I get to the end of my project, the more I procrastinate! It’s the strangest thing. I write 59,000 words for my upcoming book, but the final 1000 words took longer than the other 59. Crazy! Anyways, I’m back on it now :) Thanks again for the reminder to keep focused!

    • Sharon Vornholt

      Hey Brandon –

      That has been working well for me. I plan to keep on doing that. It’s amazing how much you can write early in the morning before all the interruptions begin. I am also familiar with the “end of the job procrastination”. Why is it we do that? It’s just crazy.

      What’s your new book on?

      Sharon

      • I think it’s because once the project is “done” it’s open for criticism …and most of us are afraid of failure. As long as a project isn’t “done” no one can critique it….

        • Deanna –
          I’m pretty much over that one at this stage, but that is a valid point. One we get started then the job usually gets done; it’s getting started that is the problem.

          Have a good weekend.

          Sharon

  2. We are all guilty of procrastinating on things.
    It is kind of crazy that we almost fight ourselves to keep from doing the most important things we need to get done sometimes.

    I like the 2 action steps you have there.
    Decide to do it and say when you will. Fine MAYBE your really can’t do the thing right then but you can figure out when you can and commit to doing it then.

    • Hey Shaun – I was thinking that I probably need to do a couple of book reports to get you commenting again. :)

      I have successfully gotten up 1 hour earlier the past couple of days to work on a project. If it wasn’t for being tired (because I’m not getting to bed any earlier), I would really be enjoying this quiet time in the morning. Nice hearing from you again.

      Sharon

      • I have a 5.5 and 3 year old so I have no idea what this “Quite time in the morning” you speak of is. :)

        It is unfortunate that to get an extra hour in the morning I’d have to get up 2.5-3 hours earlier, which is not a good tradeoff. In the before time I did find that doing that at times was a great way to boost productivity when I was in a procrastination rut.

        BTW I just checked I did not comment on your last article here, but I did on the one before that.
        You have fairly high expectations. :)

        • LOL Shaun. I was just giving you a hard way to go. I haven’t had time to do a whole lot of that myself. I am definitely in need of some serious outsourcing, but you need time to actually do that – to give work away. It’s a catch 22.

          I remember having small kids. I actually have done that a second time around with my granddaughter. Since I always had a business, she came to work with me when she was sick and couldn’t go to daycare, on days off from school etc. She is finally old enough to take care of herself now, but I still schedule things around her since she is here after school. I hope you get some time off this weekend

          Sharon.

        • And isn’t that the irony of delegating/outsourcing stuff?
          You need to put in a fair bit of work upfront to be able to effectively do it.

  3. Great article. I’m a big believer in scheduling my goals. I see them as being an appointment to keep with myself. That being said, you eat an elephant one bite at a time, so your calendar should show a progression of small goals so that by the time you get to the date that has your end goal, you are mostly, if not all the way, there.

    • Sharon Vornholt

      I agree completely. One of my favorite books was “Eat the Frog” by Brian Tracy. He said to just get rid of the thing you are dreading the first thing in the morning. Thanks for your comments.

      Sharon

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