7 Ways to Invest in Real Estate When You Are Too Frickin’ Busy

by | BiggerPockets.com

Do you feel too busy?

I’m extremely busy – but then again – who isn’t? However, for the first time in my life, I seem to be slipping on my ability to handle my business. I’m waking up extra early, going to bed extra late, and I haven’t watched a movie in ages. There simply are not enough hours in the day to get all the things done that need to get done.

Perhaps you can identify?

The problem is clear: I simply have too much on my plate. Trying to run a real estate investment company, hang out with you hooligans on BiggerPockets, and do the 50 other chores in my life has finally caught up with me. Combine that with my first eviction, 5 rehabs going on simultaneously (with 5 contractors who never learned how a calendar works,) and an ever-growing stack of TPS reports – I just can’t do it anymore.

This post is my turning point.

Some people write to teach.

Some people write to show off.

Some people write to simply blow off steam.

Me? I write to grow, to learn. It may seem silly, but I never grow faster than when I sit down at a keyboard and write out my thoughts.(Which is why you should consider starting your own blog, right here on BiggerPockets, in the BiggerPockets Member Blogs area!)

So this post is my medication, my instructor, my discipline. Something needs to change, and it’s not going to happen unless I stick my flag in the ground and start making some concrete decisions on how to fix the problem.

Are you with me?

Chances are – you are having the same problems as me… probably worse. After all, I am kind of a whiner… I don’t even have kids yet! So I hope you’ll follow along with me and choose to make some decisions as well, sticking your own flag in the ground.

Below are eight steps that I am hoping to begin instituting in my own life to help me continue to invest in real estate while being too frickin’ busy.


hire assistant

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1.) Hire an Assistant

My wife is an incredible help to me, and she takes care of 90% of the workload in managing our properties. However, although she works full time at it and I only work part time at my investing business, it’s still too much. So, Thursday morning I have my first interview with an assistant. I honestly don’t know everything this assistant is going to do, but I believe that the benefit to having one will out-weigh the cost. My hope is that by focusing on the activities in my life that bring me the most satisfaction and “bang for my buck,” I will be able to earn more than that assistant is costing me and be an overall happier person.

I look at this adventure as an investment… it may take a long time to pay back, and financially it may never (though I hope it will!) However, if I can do less of what I don’t want to do and more of what I do – it will be my favorite investment regardless of how it financially turns out.

For those of you who think an assistant is un-attainable… don’t think I plan to hire a local assistant to bring me coffee and cost me thousands of dollars a month. I’m talking about a virtual assistant, which I’ll pay between $3 and $5 per hour (a great wage for them) for an assistant in the Philippines to handle anything that can be done online. For a great article on this, check out Using a Virtual Assistant in Your Real Estate Investing BusinessI’ll let you know how it turns out.


2.) Start Saying No

This is perhaps the hardest thing on this list, and I’m going to tread carefully here. The source of most of my busy-ness, however, is because I simply agree to do too many things. Whether it’s a “quick favor” for a friend, a new business idea that I’m excited to play around with, or any other kind of obligation – I need to start saying “no” – even to myself.

I’ll be honest – I am afraid of appearing rude, or stuck up, or mean. I want to be known as a helpful person and a servant to all – but not at the expense of my health or my marriage. If I’m helping a friend draft a resume for the third time but can’t seem to find ten minutes to take a walk with my wife… something needs to change. Something is going to change.


3.) Prioritize My Investing

As the co-host of the BiggerPockets Podcast and a shameless addict of the BiggerPockets Forums, I get to pick people’s brains every day about different, exciting investment strategies. Josh and I joke about this often – that after each Podcast recording, suddenly that method seems so cool and we want to try it out! Whether it’s wholesaling after Jerry Puckett’s or Sharon Vornholt’s show or second mortgages after Dave Van Horn’s show – it all just seems so enticing.

However, it’s important for me (and you) to recognize one important fact: I can make money in real estate with any strategy. I don’t say that to sound cocky, and I believe the same is absolutely true for you. Except for the scams – they all probably work.  Flipping, wholesaling, subject to, lease options, peer to peer lending, etc.

However, chasing the newest shiny object is detrimental to my life. I need to learn to prioritize what is important and what is okay to put on the shelf. I need to recognize what is working well for me – and focus on that. For example, in my life, multifamily properties are working great, so I’m going to keep focusing on them. Partnerships are working great – so I’ll keep building them. Rehabs… are not so fun, so maybe I need to cool it during this phase of my life? They’ll still be around later. And speaking of rehabs…

JD Hancock

4.) Fixing My Problem with Handymen and Contractors

One of the biggest drains on my time is dealing with contractors (if you listen to the Podcast, you’ve heard me complain.) I have multiple contractors – yet I still struggle with “babysitting” them when I shouldn’t have to. Perhaps this is a result of bad training, or perhaps this is a result of bad contractors; maybe both.

I am going to start actively making some changes with my contractors. First, I will start treating my friendly contractors with a more “business” mindset. “No, I will not pay you $20 for gas because you don’t have enough for the week. Finish the job and I’ll pay you.” I will also start looking for additional, new contractors. I will start actively asking more local investors, agents, and friends for referrals. I will try to find some that do exactly what I want … and then pay them well for their work.

Property Management

5.) Property Management?

There is a principle (made famous by the awesome book “The Four Hour Workweek“) called the “Pareto Principle” – or the 80/20 rule – that states that roughly 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. For example, 20% of the bean stalks in my garden produce 80% of the beans, or 80% of your profits come from 20% of your customers. I’ve noticed this same principle with my investing: 80% of my problems are with 20% of my tenants.

For seven years now, I have managed my properties with just my wife and myself and I think it’s time to hand some of them over to official property management. I don’t believe I need to hand all of them over – but I bet you can guess which ones are going to go first.

Yep, the 20%.

Turn Key Investing

6.) Turn Key Investing

Although this is not an avenue that I will be taking immediately, I think it’s worth addressing here because:

  1. This post is titled “How To” … so it should apply to YOU as well
  2. I may go down this route in the future

Turn key (or turnkey) investing is the process of buying a piece of property, usually out of the area, which is already finished and ready to rent (or already rented.) In other words – less hassle. Turn key investing is very popular for those individuals who are located in large, expensive cities because the returns can be much better through a turn key company than what someone might get locally.

However, I’m not drawn as much toward the returns (I can get the same in my area) as I am the process… write a check, buy a property, get nice cash flow checks back in the mail. So, while I may not be quite ready for turn key investing right now, it’s definitely an avenue you may want to consider in your own life. There are hundreds of ways to invest in real estate – stressing yourself by investing locally doesn’t have to be the only way.


7.) Write Down my Plan


What About You?

These were just seven ideas I’ve come up with on how to simplify my life and continue to invest in real estate despite my “busy” life. I know you can think of more – so please do me the honor and add your suggestions below in the comments and let me know other ideas you may have for me.

Also – if you are in the same boat I am, leave a comment and let me know the steps YOU are going to take to simplify your life. There is something powerful about writing down your steps (as opposed to keeping it locked in your head) so take a moment and pour out your soul. I know you are busy … but it will only take a moment for your life to change direction.

I know mine already has.

Photos: Matteo MignanimslavickJD Hancockjulien halermiuenski miuenskiThe Pug Fatheryusheng

About Author

Brandon Turner

Brandon Turner is an active real estate investor, entrepreneur, writer, and co-host of the BiggerPockets Podcast. He began buying rental properties and flipping houses at age 21, discovering he didn’t need to work 40 years at a corporate job to have “the good life.” Today, with nearly 100 rental units and dozens of rehabs under his belt, he continues to invest in real estate while also showing others the power, and impact, of financial freedom. His writings have been featured on Forbes.com, Entrepreneur.com, FoxNews.com, Money Magazine, and numerous other publications across the web and in print media. He is the author of The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down, The Book on Rental Property Investing, and co-author of The Book on Managing Rental Properties, which he wrote alongside his wife, Heather. A life-long adventurer, Brandon (along with his wife Heather and daughter Rosie) splits his time between his home in Washington State and various destinations around the globe.


  1. Great article! Hiring help is the best thing I ever did. Increased free time, productivity and money.

    I am going to start my own property management company soon.

    I try to do the most difficult things first. I think people occupy their time and feel they are accomplishing things by doig the easy stuff. Do the most important, hardest things first.

    Follow up to my last point, do the most important things first and delegate or wait on the little crap.

  2. Awesome post, Brandon. Seriously one of your best 🙂

    I just read this the other day on an excellent website called http://www.shenegotiates.com – but men can use the tips too lol!! It was about saying no effectively and graciously, which I know is a concern to you (and many others I would imagine). Here are her tips:

    7 ways to say NO:

    1. No: “Yes, I’d love to participate, and I’m going to have to decline.”

    2. No with help: “I love that you thought of me, and I’m unable to participate. How can I help you find someone else?”

    3. No with appreciation: “I think your idea is fabulous, and I’m not able to participate at this time.”

    4. No and yes: “Yes, I’d love to participate, but at a later date. Can you ask me again in January?

    5. No with specific yes: “I’d love to help you with your project, and I’m on a deadline until Tuesday. Can we meet on Wednesday?”

    6. No when you don’t know: “Sounds interesting. I need to sleep on that” OR “I need to check with my boss/partner.”

    7. No with values: If I take on another task right now, I wouldn’t be honoring my commitment to my [family] [work] [business].

    I really think the VA & PM will be lifesavers too. Good team members are gold. Good luck!!

      • Interesting thing about saying no is that if you do it in a polite and thoughtful way (as in many of the ways above, or just a brief explanation) people respect you a lot for it.

        If you think about it wouldn’t you rather someone tell you they can’t do something then promise to and either not come through or do a lousy job because they didn’t really have the time to put into it?

  3. Great post, and great ideas. I was totally going to call you out about not having kids, but then you called yourself out! 🙂 I’m a dad of 3 now and time is at a huge premium for me. My biggest goal right now is to build up enough income to free myself from my 40-50hr/week job.

    Some of the best advice I’ve heard on time management came from Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. Highly worth a read if you can find the time (I sense irony?).

    I wrote a short article about it (http://beabetterengineer.com/putting-first-things-first/) from the perspective of an engineer, but it can be applied to lots of situations. The bottom line is that often the things that are the most urgent and “in-your-face” distract us from working on improvement activities that would actually decrease the urgent problems and help us deal with them more efficiently.

    Basically he reccomends exactly what you’re talking about – stepping back, re-evaluating priorities, and delegating tasks that don’t necessarily need to be taken care of directly by you.

    • Brandon Turner

      Ha yep Mike – I can’t imagine doing what I’m doing now with kids. The fact is – I simply couldn’t. So I’m making those changes now to make it better by the time I have kiddos running around the house! Thanks for the link on the BeaBetterEnginer – very good post! Thanks for the comment!

  4. I too went through that, all work an no play. By hiring a property manager I’ve save a lot of my time (phone calls, inspections, showing property, answering stupid questions. etc..) plus they got me a $100 a month more in rent then I would have charge. With PM’s, I can buy anywhere as I live an hour from most of my rentals. Since I can build a house from the ground up (cut rehab cost by over 50%), can’t see paying a contractor $85 dollars an hour unless I get lazy or behind.

    Motto: Do things right the first time and never bite off more then you can chew.

  5. Brandon, as always, an amazing article! I can relate to all of this! No time and it’s so hard to say no to everyone when you want to please everyone…

    I love the TPS report link!

      • That sounds like what a friend once told me as it applies to working as a mechnic in a car repair shop. Work on the most difficult problem first otherwise you run out of time and the most important problem did not get fixed. I think that applies to most things in life. Great article!
        Oh and when do those TPS reports need to be done and will I need to come in on Saturday to complete them?

  6. Glenn Schworm

    Nice article B, work smart not hard. I so agree with staying focused and not chasing that shiny new object. Master one area then decide later if you want to tackle another. And who are you calling a hooligan??? 🙂


  7. Great post Brandon! I can certainly relate. I’m working 50 hours a week, trying to build an investment company on a shoestring budget with a teenager and two pre-teens who enjoy a life full of sports and activities…Unfortunately I am not yet at the point where any kind of hired help is an option but I have decided that sleep is what needs to fall by the wayside. Nevertheless you have provided some very sound advice here. Ultimately time management is a necessary evil and I look forward to trying to implement some of these ideas in my own life and business. Thanks again!

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Jason, thanks for the comment. I am also sacrificing a lot of sleep lately, but I find that I’m getting a lot more done because of it and I’m more happy (well… not for the first half hour!) Good luck on your journey!

  8. Rita Phillips on

    Brandon – OMG…for a minute there I thought you were leaving us. Whew! I look forward to your clever, intelligent posts and share them often.

    Yep, I’m DEFINITELY with you on this one! Here’s a couple of thoughts:

    1) Allow more time for yourself. Not family, a mate, etc.. Just you (really)! Do things that make you feel positive, productive or damn happy. It might be reading a favorite book, or that dentist appointment you’ve put off way too long. But it’s still taking care of yourself. At the risk of sounding sexist (I’m not), it seems this is a little harder for women. It’s taken me about 40 years to catch on to this one, and it’s still a work in progress.

    2) Just say “No”. Repeat after me…”No”. It’s not easy, but practice seems to help. I’ve found the only ones who will be offended are the ones you should have never said yes to in the first place. Sharon’s tips above are great!

    3) When people tell me I must be nuts for working such long hours (70-80 per week), I remind them how much I enjoy it. Investing/flipping homes is my fun. Some folks play golf (to the tune of a couple hundred bucks for an afternoon), I flip homes. And BTW…make a tidy profit as well.

    4) No kids here either. But as someone told me once, “Whatever extra time you have by not having children, you just fill up with something else”. A-type personalities don’t sit around with a cold one in front of the TV every night; we like to make things happen. And that’s actually something to be proud of, yes?

    Let us know how the office assistant goes. I keep threatening to do it, but holding back.

  9. Good article, useful info. My favorite reply to time-wasting callers, other than let the call go to voice mail, is to say, after some polite listening and talking, “Gosh, I’m busy today and really have to get going, but I appreciate the call and I’ll do XYZ (or not) as soon as I can, thanks, bye.” Learned that from a lawyer whose time I was apparently wasting one day.

    Prioritizing is important too. I try to value my time at $100/hour or more, and when possible, I think “was that 5 minute phone call really worth $8.33 to me?” Helps me keep focused on my most important and value-adding tasks.

  10. Hi Brandon,
    Nice article to put things in perspective. I admit I’m
    One of those that get stuck in the “doing everything myself”mode. Also
    encouraging to hear testimony from real people with
    actual success stories. Keep up the good work!


  11. Steve Johnson on

    I know I have major issues with saying yes to everything. I went through a phase where I was overwhelmed with so many new strategies I didn’t know what to pick. Then I focused a little better and I felt more confident and now I’m seeing myself trying to pick up too many things again and I haven’t even start on the last one.

  12. Hey Brandon good article. I could benefit from using the ideas you mentioned. Since I’m fairly new to REI, I have yet to acquire any active investments. So far I’ve been to 3 local investment meetings. I just went to one yesterday and someone I had conversation with brought up an investment that they are involved with which is ” buying and selling defaulted mortgage notes”. The guy told me it’s an easier way to get started because you can get a list of defaulted notes and pick you’re the ones that would be more profitable for you. Mortgagors/banks do this all the time (wow moment for me). Have you ever tried dabbling into this and if so what was your experience like?

  13. Brandon –

    Everyone is destined to hit this point – the one where you just feel like you are drowning because the fact is we all wait to long to get help.

    Just about everyone can hire a VA for 3 or 4 hours a week when you are paying them an hourly rate of $3-$4. A good VA can do a lot for you in that time period., and you can start to get your sanity back.

    In regards to saying no, the truth of the matter is that most of us have trouble saying no. We are people pleasers. But it has to happen at some point. The exercise you did where you took a good look at your business and it’s “pieces” is what everyone needs to do before they reach this point; before you are completely worn out.

    Congratulations on taking that next step.


  14. Brandon that is a good idea to try to get as much of this stuff in place before you have kids as you can.

    I have two amazing little girls.
    They are my pride and joy, my reason for everything I do and so much fun!

    However I can’t do #*@&ing anything when they are around! 🙂

  15. Keith Weinhold on

    Hiring professional property management was the wisest thing that I ever did to improve my quality of life. Self-managing for 5+ years was too long.

    Some detractors say that, “You must manage yourself. No one cares about your property as much as you do.” I say “Managing a manager is a lot easier than managing ‘x’ number of tenants.”

    Some choices are just easy!

  16. Brandon,
    So many great points here! And enjoyed the TPS link…one of my favorite movies!

    I used a VA for a time (Odesk) for SEO on a website. He was in Pakistan. Did an amazing job and his cost was extremely reasonable (I think $2 per hour – this was about 5 years ago).

    I find the older I get, the easier it is to say no. I used to say yes to EVERYBODY and I love, love, love the fact that I now feel secure enough in my skin to say no when I need to. Now I just need to build up to saying it the way Lindsay Wilcox said, haha!!

    Although I only have one property currently, I can’t imagine not using a PM even for that. Absolutely no stress!

    And lastly, turnkeys. Yep, something I plan on considering down the road.

    Thanks again for a great write-up. Like Rita said, at first I was afraid it was your good-bye to us hooligans!

  17. Love this post! Looking forward to your take on the VA – I’ve been thinking about one as well. Although from a practical standpoint I’d be much better off simply learning to say no… 😉

    I’m also getting an error on the BiggerPockets member blogs link – any chance you could update it? Thanks!

  18. Nice post Brandon, I lost my first response so sorry if I double post here. I will start working on my saying no as soon as I go cut up my neighbor’s tree that fell on his fence and is partially in the road. It does not count on saying no as I volunteered because he just got out of the hospital. For me I think it’s about stopping from looking at the immediate picture, ie., list of fixes I need to do on rentals, and looking at the big picture, what I want to the business to do and how to get there. Probably my favorite quote is it’s hard to remember your job is to drain the swamp when you are wrestling with alligators.

  19. I’m thinking about buying a second house and renting it out. I’ve heard leases give tenants too many rights, so when renting, simply have the guy move in and tell him the rules verbally, with no lease involved. From what I hear, it’s much easier to kick someone out when there is no lease because the tenant has no legal recourse? Any thoughts / suggestions?

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