Muscle Memory for Real Estate: Improving Your Efficiency

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According to Wikipedia, the definition of ‘muscle memory’ is as follows:

Muscle memory has been used synonymously with motor learning, which is a form of procedural memory that involves consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition. When a movement is repeated over time, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort. This process decreases the need for attention and creates maximum efficiency within the motor and memory systems. 

Terms like “without conscious effort” and “maximum efficiency” really stick out to me as ideal characteristics to develop when playing golf, swinging a bat, or playing an instrument. But what about being applied to real estate? I’m a firm believer that in order to become a truly successful investor, you must develop muscle memory for your business!

I am NOT defining “successful” as simply the amount of money you make, but rather as the amount of money per hour you make. Think about it for a second. You could make thousands upon thousands of dollars, but if that means you’re working 12 hours per day, is that really success? Maybe you would say ‘yes’, and that’s fine; however, I’d rather make less, and only need to work a few hours a day. It’s all in the eyes of the beholder. Whatever your definition of “successful” is, I’m sure we can all agree that “without conscious effort” and “maximum efficiency” are two ideal attributes to have.

A real estate business in which you are doing things without conscious effort out of habit and  working at maximum efficiency is one that is not only going to create success, it’s one that will allow you to put in the least amount of time required.

How do you get to this point? Routine, routine, routine, and a little more routine!

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Building Your Real Estate Muscle Memory Through Routine / Systems

I’ve seen some call it “systems”, and while that term fits, to me the word “routine” implies something that is done over and over again to the point where you don’t even think about doing it (muscle memory). It doesn’t matter what you’re doing in your real estate business, you should always be trying to make a routine out of it. It may not be the best routine, but if you are doing things properly, that will become obvious and you can change up the routine.

This brings up the questions, how do I form a routine? How do I know if it is working at maximum efficiency?

Routine Forming

Upfront Warning: this can be monotonousness and tiresome! At the end of the day though, it is effective!

As an engineer by degree, this sort of task comes a bit as second nature, but document and list out everything!

  • What do you do in the morning when you wake up? List it out!
  • What do you do after you hang-up the phone from a motivated seller? List it out!
  • What do you do after doing a walk-through a house you want to make an offer on? List it out!

The first thing that becomes obvious is just how much you actually “do”. The second thing that becomes obvious is how many of the things you “do” are either repetitive or not even required. This leads to the next point…

Efficiency Forming

As you begin to go through those lists you’ve put together, ask yourself, “did I already perform this task in one way or another?” and secondly, “did I truly create any value out of doing this task?”.

This will make me look silly, but it makes a perfect example of how even obvious things may not seem so obvious. When I was first getting started, my general list would go like this…

  1. Check out home.
  2. Check out home with contractor – decide if I want to pull trigger.
  3. Go home and print out checklists for my scope of work.
  4. Return to home and complete checklists for my scope of work.

Ummmm… what was I thinking?!?!?! Why in the world was I making an extra trip to go back to the property in order to do task #4??

I know what you’re thinking, “there is no way that I do anything that is such an obvious time waster within my business.” My simple response, “I thought the same thing!!”.


Build muscle memory in you real estate business by making lists, maximizing them, and then doing them over and over again until they become routine. Before you know it, a task that used to take an hour will be down to 30 min.

Photo: Brady Withers

About Author

Clay Huber

Clay (G+) is a licensed real estate agent and the owner of Huber Property Group, LLC, a real estate investment company located in Grand Rapids, MI. His company purchases distressed properties with the main exit strategy of fixing them up and reselling with owner financing, particularly, land contracts.


    • Thanks Michael. “Tweaking” should always be taking place. With as fast as technology (social media) changes these days, there seems to consistently be new ways to maximize your routines.

  1. Hi Clay,

    Great post and detailed instructions. I love your simple push for folks to list and repeat the daily actions it takes to become proficient in this business. Plus the awesome addition that over time these tasks will take less and less time to complete, while probably converting more and more sellers/buyers as you improve. What effort do you feel should be made with regards to constantly tweaking and improving (or split testing) strategies for completing the same task?


    • Good question John. The effort put into tweaking/improving is really dependent on you and your motivation to free up as most of your time as possible. Me personally, I want to spend the least amount of time working as I need to, so I’m always looking for new ways that can decrease the amount of time I put into a certain task.

      The key being, less time, but SAME output. If you are sacrificing output (customer service for example) to save time, then you are NOT going in the right direction.

  2. Hi Clay!

    Excellent post and for me doing something on daily basis, which will become the routine for you and you will learnt with the passage of time to make it more productive and can do some variations in it as per your work requires.

    Thanks for great information.

  3. Thank you Clay for pointing out the value in a routine, and that that it’s the right things within that routine, I’m still working on that… but when I look back a year ago, it looks really good now compared to then, holy cow! Thanks again!

    • Paul – it’s amazing how when you look back at the way things “used to be” compared to how they “are now” the amount of progress that is made. You’ll also get a few good ‘head-scratchers’ where you’ll be asking yourself, “why in the heck was I doing that?!?!”

  4. This goes right along with the 80-20 rule, which says that 80% of your productivity usually comes from 20% of your activities. I find personally it’s more like 60-40, but you get the idea. You have to focus on those tasks which net the most gain vs. time wasted.

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