Why You Should Keep a Real Estate Investing Journal

by | BiggerPockets.com

Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the title of this post alone was enough to make some of you groan and think one or both of the following:

“You’re kidding me, right? Writing in journals is for pre-teen and teenage girls!”

“Do I really need something else to add to my plate? Sounds like too much work!”

Regardless of your initial impressions, I’d like to build a quick and perhaps even compelling case for why I think keeping a business journal for your real estate investing can be a very effective success strategy for any serious real estate investor.

1. It’s good to have a place (one consistent place) to capture great ideas you read or hear about

How often do you come across an awesome idea in an article or a blog or simply in conversation with others and think to yourself “I don’t have the time to do this now, but that would be a great idea!” or “Some day I’m going to give that strategy a shot for my business”?  I know it happens to me often — I’ll read great ideas in real estate investing forums such as the one right here on BiggerPockets or see a great video tip from one of my real estate investor blogging pals.  It’s impossible to process or take action on all of this.  Rather than be distracted by the ideas,  you can file them away in your real estate investing journal to refer to at a later time.

2. By the way, you also need a place for your own random thoughts and killer brainstorms

Ideas (whether good or bad) can be forgotten as quickly as they are formed in your mind.  Why not get those ideas written down so that you can truly evaluate them later?  Sometimes you’re so concerned about forgetting something that you’re unable to move forward with other important things, but if you write it down you can get it off your mind and move on.  Perhaps you’re having a challenge and need to brainstorm some solutions…do it in the journal where you can have record of it later.

I know some people who are really savvy about this and keep a voice recorder at all times so that they can capture their thoughts even if they are driving or are somewhere that makes writing impossible.

3. You have a written history of your businesses successes and failures (lessons learned) to celebrate

For me personally, this is one of the greatest benefits of keeping a journal for your real estate investing business.  You can capture what is working well, what isn’t working at all, the obstacles that you had to overcome, etc.  Not only will this help you moving forward in your business, but it will also allow you to truly appreciate how far you’ve come when you go back and read the journal in later months or years.

You can take this a step further and also consider the value of handing a journal like this over to a child, sibling, or someone you mentor in the years to come.  It’s bound to be inspiring when you have reached some or all your real estate investing goals!

There are actually a number of other reasons I can think of to keep a journal for your real estate investing business, but these are three solid ones to consider.  Your journal can be on paper or electronic, but even as a major technology fan I will tell you that I do believe that there is something powerful about putting pen to paper.  You also don’t have to write on a daily basis, but the idea is to be consistent (at least weekly) to gain the most from the process for your business.

Would love to hear your candid thoughts. Do you keep a business journal?  Do you think this could make a difference in your business or does it seem like a bunch of fluff?

Image: digitalalan

About Author

Shae Bynes is a real estate investor in Sunny South Florida. On her blog, GoodFaithInvesting.com, she provides helpful tips and an inside look at her real estate investing adventures -- obstacles, failures, & successes!


  1. Shae,

    This is an excellent idea. I’ve heard of keeping a completed deal journal, and I personally keep a completed tasks journal so that I can analyze what I’m doing and can stream line my processes. I really like your take on it. It is a great idea to keep a journal for your brainstorming and a place to keep all those weblinks, blog posts, and REI tips you want to reference in the future.

    I am going to implement this idea… I can see this idea also improving future time management.

    Great post… keep ’em coming.


    Chris G.

  2. I save everything as an email; I do that because most of my resources are on the internet (just like this blog entry). That way I can copy-paste the article directly into an email, using the article’s title for the subject line (that’s key, because if you can’t find the information, it isn’t useful). Then I send the email to myself, dropping it into a set of sub-folders under the Real Estate parent folder. Quick and easy; and that’s important because you won’t do something if it’s time consuming or tedious.

    If I have my own notes, then I create a email from scratch, or add to an existing email of the same topic (deleting the old copy).

    Now I can use the search feature of Outlook, and forward the information to others, reorganize both the contents of the email and the folder structure, add attachments, and most importantly I can back it up to my network drive and to off-line DVD’s — so it will NEVER get lost. It’s also fairly portable; since I bring my laptop everywhere I go, I also have my notes. Now, I can see that if you were a “fixer”, that for sure a combination of the two methods would be best; emails or text files for permanent retention and a note book for running to Home Depot.

    The challenge with an actual written version is that you can’t search it, you can’t reorganize it, you can’t add lots of information quickly to it (copy-paste and attached files), and you can’t back it up (without a tedious copy session). Every tool has it’s place.

    BTW, it’s huge for us and our RE business to have this type of journal.

    • I agree Tim. Digital is the way to go these days, because it’s so much more versatile. Being able to find items by content or topic (as well as chronologically) is far more efficient that flipping through page after page of notes. I still use pen and paper to get ideas down quickly, but anything worth keeping goes into the box. We’ve been using Google Docs so that anyone/everyone in our organization can access information as needed.

  3. Great, Chris! I think you’ll find it really helpful.

    Tim, you make a pretty compelling case for the use of technology 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this. I have been really struggling with getting appropriate back up systems in place. I have a portable hard drive but I forget to sync it and its a pain to keep it constantly connected to my laptop.

    Another awesome use of pen and paper is with writing down your goals. I have a goal journal that I write in regularly and its pretty powerful to remind yourself on a regular basis.

    Great comments fellas!

  4. Hi Shae!

    I have been keeping a make shift journal.
    Actually, I wouldn’t call it a journal, rather a notepad. Whenever I have an idea for a blog article, I will jot this down on my notepad. If I don’t, the idea is gone from my head, just as quickly as it came.

    For some time, I have been meaning to formalize my random note taking in some way. A journal will help this.

    I also thought of using the notes function in the good old BlackBerry in order to jot down all of my thoughts.

    All the best,

  5. Ariane Randolph on

    I think this is a great idea. I love to journal, and I have been writing down my ideas, but I like the focus on “consistent”, so I am refocusing so accomplish my goal. Whatever it takes! I am looking forward to seeing what else you have to say, but I like this so far. Thank you!

    • Hi Ariane, that’s great! I think that the consistency is key, and to be frank I’m still working on the consistency with this myself. Someone recommended a tool called Evernote to me last week so I just downloaded it and will give it a shot this week. I don’t think it exactly replaces a journal but it does allow you to organize a lot of random media (text, webpages, images, videos, etc.) and make it easy to find your stuff later. I have a lot of ideas scattered all over my hard drive because they were things I found online vs. things that popped into my head. 🙂

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