4 Productivity Hacks to Turn Wasted Hours into Quality Time

4 Productivity Hacks to Turn Wasted Hours into Quality Time

7 min read
Nathan Brooks

Nathan Brooks is the co-founder and CEO of Bridge Turnkey Investments, a Kansas City-based company renovating and selling more than 100 turnkey properties per year.

With more than a decade of experience in real estate investing, Nathan is a seasoned investor with a large personal portfolio and a growing business portfolio. Just last year, through Bridge Turnkey Investments, he helped investors add over $12 million in value to their real estate portfolios and has goals to crush that number in the coming years.

Nathan regularly produces educational content to fuel his passion for helping other people learn about and find success in real estate investing. He has been featured regularly on industry podcasts, such as the Bigger Pockets Podcast (#87, #159, #232, and #319), Active Duty Passive Income podcast, Freedom Real Estate Investing podcast, Fearless Pursuit of Freedom Podcast, Titanium Vault, InvestFourMore Real Estate Podcast, the Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever show, the Good Success Podcast, FlipNerd, Wholesaling Inc., the Real Estate Investing Profits Master Series, Flipping Junkie Podcast, Flip Empire podcast, Think Realty Radio, and more. He is a sought-after speaker and writer, featured regularly on the BiggerPockets Blog and found on stage regularly at events across the country.

He is also part of multiple leadership groups for top executives, including Collective Genius, an invite-only group known as the Elite Investor’s Board of Directors.

In an effort to help investors further, Nathan started Bridge Real Estate Investing Meetup (BREIM) in 2018. The group’s tremendous growth earned it the title of “Largest Meetup in Kansas City” after only three months running, and it continues to grow daily.

Nathan is a passionate leader, well-respected investor, and friend to everyone he meets. He currently lives in Kansas City on his 11-acre property with his wife and two beautiful children. He loves to enjoy the outdoors, train MMA, and come up with new business ideas to crush.

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The past month or two, I have felt the need to renew my direction, my trajectory, my goals, my paradigm — within my family, my personal life, and my business. I’ve been filling my mind with literature, music, and meditation, seeking to see within my own person, asking questions as to exactly what I am doing, what I am spending my time on, and what in this world, and within my world specifically, is worth my most valuable asset: my time.

You see, I don’t want to live without thinking — but I also don’t want to overthink. I don’t want to obsess over the smallest of details, overlooking massive opportunities that lie just the shortest distance from where I am, unable to see, and therefore unable to convert.

I also don’t want to miss the opportunities in this world that require another level of analyzing ability, skill, and aptitude; I want to decipher the nuances and therefore get the best deals and make the best of opportunity. It can be shocking how easy it is to overthink, overdo, and completely overanalyze our lives, businesses, children and potential real estate deals — while completely under-utilizing our own abilities in those same spaces by not making any true decisions.

As I sit here right now, I have a cup of coffee in my favorite coffee mug. It’s one of those Starbucks mugs, the really cool ones from the different cities you have traveled to and had an impulse to buy while standing in line waiting for your morning coffee. This one is a blue pastel color with the downtown Miami skyline, palm trees, and the ocean. Whenever I see it, it takes me back to when we bought this mug. The “we” being my wife and me. And the experience being our trip to Miami last year.

It was the week of the Finals, my wife and I being hardcore Miami Heat fans, and we decided on a whim to find a babysitter for two children (thanks, Grandma and Grandpa!), book flights for less than $300 each, buy lower level tickets to the game, and reserve a hotel right in downtown Miami for less than $100 a night. A week later, we were in South Florida attending game three of the NBA Finals.

#boom #miami #livingthevidaloca — or something like that 🙂

If you happen to be an NBA fan — or just have a great memory — you will know that this game ended up being the beginning of the end for Lebron and the Miami Heat. It’s painful for me to even say this… but they got their butts handed to them.

Related: Four Productivity Improvement Tips To Make You A Better Real Estate Investor

They lost that game, and went on to lose to the San Antonio Spurs. But we were there. Cheering our team on, with a beer and hotdog in hand, screaming our heads off, people watching, checking out the night skyline at half time, and eventually walking away wondering what exactly happened for the Heat to have such a catastrophic meltdown.

Still, what we both still kept coming back to was: It’s The NBA Finals. Win or lose, it was an amazing experience — from seeing all the players on both teams to the TV cameras and media people everywhere to a city fired up for their team.

Yes, we spent money on the trip, and the game was what spurred us to go. We didn’t go into debt because we paid cash from money we had made in our real estate business. And the game was only a few hours of a 3-4 day trip in Miami. We ate amazing meals. We walked around downtown Miami, South Beach, and just explored.

It wasn’t about the game. It was the time together.

Achieving a Work-Life Balance

Anyone with young children knows that quality time together is hard to come by. I’m not complaining, far from it. But we all need time together with our friends, our spouses, and ourselves… alone.

In a world where we can have so many distractions that lead us on endless wild chases to absolutely nowhere, it is so vital that we set up systems that help us navigate anything from our calendars to our work-life balance to our marriages to our cell phones.

You can make all the money in the world, but broken partnerships, or bad marriages, or having no relationship with your children, or not exercising or eating well all cause pain, discomfort, or lack of pleasure in your life. If you’re not being productive, you probably aren’t able to unplug from your work brain to truly exist at home, experiencing and enjoying your family.

Listen, I am writing this for myself. My wife and I have had this discussion this week. Because she stays home with our two children now, almost never able to have time for herself without snotty noses, crying, or a room that has gone from clean to complete mayhem and apocalyptic destruction. You better watch out for the legos, those hurt the worst if you are walking around in the dark and WHAM… ouch!

I work as a worship leader at a large church, as well as an investor in real estate. These things don’t really exist on the same plane. They take different things from me — and both of them must be in balance with what I can, or should have, or should be doing, with my family.

If you are reading this far, I imagine you understand these same balancing acts, these hard decisions, and the struggle of time drain. You might be wondering where your day went and when the hours of meetings and countless to do lists became more abundant than your happiness has. You might be feeling completely overwhelmed. You’re probably desiring more time for what really matters, the people we care about, and the things we love to do.

Well, stop.

Stop going through the motions, and think on it. Meditate over it. Give yourself time to absorb what you are doing, and don’t beat yourself up over what you are doing that isn’t working. Instead, allow yourself the opportunity to make some changes, some small, some more significant.

Here are 4 action items to do right now. Seriously, grab a pen, and write them down.

4 Actions to Boost Productivity & Enhance Quality of Life

1. Stop living life through the lens of others.

If that means you stop wearing the badge of honor for checking your email at 10pm at night, then stop it. If that means not going to sleep until you make a check list for tomorrow (because you never seem to go to sleep, instead endlessly pondering whatever you have to do tomorrow), then make the list.

Listen to some music that is calming before bed. Have a cup of tea. Stop thinking about it. If it’s a matter of desiring what others have, this isn’t helpful or healthy for you. Stop making decisions in your life based on what others have, not on what you have, could have, or could do. Things don’t equal life. They equal things. Stop it.

2. Stop complaining.

If you don’t like it, change it. You and everyone around you deserve better. I’ve always had a line: don’t complain, explain. If there is something not working, stop doing it! Think through and explain to yourself what isn’t working, and change it. By embodying very definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result — you aren’t going to get anywhere.

In complaining, you are allowing your mind to come up with all sorts of conclusions as to why you are wronged, why it’s not your fault, or why you can’t change something. It’s not true. Change what you are doing: your behavior, your physiology, your calendar, your job. Don’t complain. Find what isn’t working, and stop doing it.

3. Build time in your calendar to do things you enjoy doing.

Just because it is work doesn’t mean it’s fun. Doing things you like to do makes you more productive, and it is something you WILL do. For me, I started building in practice time for the instruments I play at church, and I don’t bring my cell phone with me into rehearsal time.

Want to know what time it is? Ask a co-worker. Or get this crazy thing called a watch.

I build time in each week to look at houses. I have a plan, I know when I am going. Same thing with writing this blog: I have a process, so I don’t have to think through how I would make time for writing and stress over it; it’s already built into my day. And the gym, it’s everyday… I have to for my ability to function.

Related: 6 Easy Ways to Boost Your Productivity in Real Estate

If you have to keep asking yourself when you are going to do something, you are wasting so much of your energy on making decisions that you can put on autopilot (schedule them), and you drain the energy you could have put towards the actual task at hand of growing your business or spending time with your family. That is where the decisions pay their dividends.

4. Put your (stupid) cell phone down.

Ugh. I loathe it, to be perfectly honest. Because at my fingertips, I can do just about anything that wastes time, from looking at sports reports, to all my banking and investments, to stupid games, to Instagram and Twitter, and I can go from one to the other with the swipe of a finger. And seriously, stop checking your Facebook feed every 10 minutes (and delete the app off your phone… I did).

And email — that’s the worst, right? From the boss, from a partner. Good news, bad news: everything leads to a tangent you didn’t really intend to go on. Disable all the dings, rings, and reminders saying you just got a message or a text that are audible or that show up on the screen (yes, I’ve done that too).

Tangents are great when you are doing it for fun, like, say, looking for the best sushi in Miami, FL, but not so much when you are at the dinner table with your family and you get a DING and open your email to find something unpleasant you have to deal with tomorrow at the office.


Look, I realize it is easy to say all this stuff.

Oh great, now I can read this and be more depressed with my life. Or the fact that I haven’t bought my first investment property yet. Or how I am stuck with a deal, or a partner, or a spouse creating conflict or frustration.  

These things are inevitable. It’s just life — and it’s okay. Remember, things do happen. It’s not a pithy phrase, it’s just life. And by having more space for you to encounter those challenges head on by putting other things on autopilot, or stopping them altogether, you will have the decision-making power to deal with them decisively and effectively. Only then will you have the time and energy to move on to what is really most important: being truly present for life experiences with the people you love.

What actions have you taken to maximize the time and energy you have for friends and family?

Leave your tips and thoughts below!