Business Management

How to Use Positive Triggers to Be a More Productive Investor

Expertise: Personal Development, Real Estate Investing Basics, Business Management, Mobile Homes, Real Estate News & Commentary, Landlording & Rental Properties, Mortgages & Creative Financing, Real Estate Marketing
224 Articles Written
woman sitting at desk covered in post-it notes looking tired

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Over the past decade investing in real estate, I've come to realize my strengths and weaknesses as a real estate investor — and as a human being in general. In the past I routinely found myself with the day finished, and few, if any, new calls to sellers dialed and no appointments made. This trend continued for weeks, giving me a persistent feeling that I was perpetually behind the proverbial 8-ball.

My excuses were not all over the place, but rather contained to just a few areas of my business.

My main complaints were:

  • “Arg! I really don’t want to make calls to sellers today.”
  • “Stuffing envelopes is so boring!”
  • “Why can’t I motivate myself to wake up early on the weekends?”
  • “I feel like a loser since I skipped my morning workout.”
  • “I can’t make personal calls at work ’cause my lunch is only 30 minutes long.”

Every problem has a solution. After considering my challenges, I decided to set up positive triggers to remind and encourage me to perform a specific action.

Positive trigger = A friendly reminder typically established by you. Usually premeditated and placed in a way to be unmistakable, it reminds you to do something productive. See examples below.

5 Examples of Positive Triggers

Below is a list of the biggest 5 positive triggers I’ve set for myself. Disclaimer: Some of these positive triggers may not work for you based on your goals, traits, motivation, and physical abilities. Try thinking of positive triggers you can create for yourself.

1. The Trusty To-Do List

During the daytime, I used to tend to go easy on myself if no one else was watching. I would have little guilt in throwing my feet up and reading a good self-help or business book for a few hours. However, I too live in the real world, and most of us already complain about too few hours per day. I needed a way to bring clarity to my routine and be more productive daily.

Related: 14 Things Every Real Estate Investor Should Do Every Single Day

My solution: To create and write down the bulk of my daily to-do list the night prior. Once the bite-sized tasks are committed on paper, I find that the next day, these items always get checked off my list. Become a to-do list murderer! If there is an undone item on your to-do list, complete it quickly and without prejudice. Start smiling every time you cross off an item. As you think of more bite-sized tasks, add them to today’s or tomorrow’s list.

2. Strategically Scheduled Meetings

Waking up for work is easier for me because I know that I have to be there. If I do not go to work, I may very likely lose my income source. On the weekends, I needed a consistent and proven way for me to wake up early so that I could maximize my few days off from work.

My solution: To set my appointments with sellers in the mornings on Saturdays and possibly Sundays. In my mind, appointments with sellers equate to profit. Profit and helping sellers highly encourages me to rise up eagerly to meet with local sellers. After my weekly morning appointments, I can now stay out and continue growing my business and network.

3. Letter Mailing Materials Stored… in the Freezer?!

In my niche, mailing We buy houses letters to certain owners is very profitable. Even though I know mailing letters produces deals, I found myself losing steam whenever “envelope stuffing day” was here. I needed a way to make myself stuff and address envelopes — and be happy.

My solution: To keep my stationary in the freezer. Everyday after coming home in the afternoon or evening, I like to enjoy a bowl of ice cream or some other frozen dessert. To set up my positive trigger, I’ve begun keeping my current prospect list of names and addresses, preprinted letters, and a box of envelopes in my freezer. Everyday I come home, I’m forced to stuff envelopes prior to eating my reward.

4. Carefully Placed Athletic Equipment

I find that even 20 minutes of cardio and stretching each morning gives me energy and fire for the rest of the day. No coffee needed! The only problem is that my bed is cozy, and the snooze button is so easy to hit. I needed a way to get up, stay up, and start moving immediately.

My solution: Step 1: Every night, I position my jump rope on my light switch to remind me to start jumping when I wake up. In my house, the living room switches are OFF when in the up position and ON when in the down position. My jump rope can be supported by the light switch when in the OFF position.

Related: 6 Weekly Habits of Successful Real Estate Investors

Step 2: Drink a full glass of water before bed. This old classic trick gets me up early each morning, as I stumble through the living room, only to find my jump rope waiting patiently for me.

5. A Pre-Packed Lunch

For the last few months before I began working full-time investing in mobile homes, I worked 2 jobs 6 days a week. While this is not a big deal to anyone with 2 or more jobs, you can likely sympathize with the lack of time to call sellers, buyers, Realtors, lenders, brokers, community managers, etc. I needed more free time during the daytime hours to call sellers and set appointments.

My solution: Pack a lunch and call sellers from work. Here’s a story: When I was a boy, in my grade school, you were called a “nerd” if you brought your home lunch to school. This of course made me very popular carrying my ALF lunchbox and thermos. While the name calling was not appreciated, I really did like my home made lunch; I knew it was going to be delicious, and I really liked watching all the other kids have to wait in line for 7+ minutes to buy their food. We only had a 30 minute lunch, and there was no way I was going to spend 7 minutes or more in a food line.

The moral of the story is that by bringing my lunch to work, I can quickly eat, make calls, and set appointments with sellers for the coming weekend. Thirty minutes a day can add up over a month of calls.


This article is targeted to help you develop your own positive triggers for your business. Start to see where you are lacking and what needs improving. Then start thinking outside the box to accomplish creating your positive triggers.

Remember that your positive triggers are not miracles; positive triggers only remind you of the work needed — they don’t do the work for you. Stay motivated and know you can do this!

Have you set any positive triggers for yourself in your life?

Please comment these below for us all to learn and grow.

Investing since 2002, John started in real estate accidentally with a four-bedroom mobile home inside of a pre-existing mobile home park. Over the next 11 months, John added 10 more mobile homes to...
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    Shaun Reilly Landlord and Rehabber from Newton, Massachusetts
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    These are some really good tricks. I am going to try some modifications of a few of these. I’ve done the put the alarm on the other side of the room thing to force me to get up rather than hit the snooze. There is also the vaunted “Put it under your keys” trick to make sure you don’t forget important items when leaving for an appointment.
    John Fedro Investor from Austin, Texas
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    Hi Shaun, Thanks for commenting and great additional Tip. All the best and talk soon, John Fedro
    Daniel Mohnkern Investor from Titusville, Pennsylvania
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great ideas. Thanks for sharing. I like the list making the night before. I would add one thing to that topic. “Eat That Frog” is great book about tackling your biggest and ugliest task first. That way, when you go through the list you created, you aren’t just making yourself feel good by marking off all the easy little tasks and never getting to the most beneficial ones. Tackle your tasks in order of most imperative task to get to your ultimate goals and aspirations. This way, you will not only have a sense of accomplishment, but will also be wicked productive in your best interest. This will transform your busy-ness to proficiency.