4 Types of To Do Lists Crucial for a Fully Focused Real Estate Business

by | BiggerPockets.com

Several years ago, as I have mentioned in many other blogs, I read a book that changed the course of my life. It immediately altered the way I thought about myself, my time and how I needed to interact with the world. That book was Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. Since that time, I have attended numerous personal development seminars (all of them were free because I’m cheap), taken those more successful than myself out to lunch and dinner to pick their brains, and immersed myself in the world of Real Estate.

The single most important thing that I have learned from all of this is that the extent of your success is completely dependent on YOU. It’s all in your daily habits — the attention that you place on your goals and the steps needed to reach them. The large part of this focus is planning, of course, but more importantly, keeping a daily To-Do List to assist in steering the ship. Now, many of the gurus will attempt to sell you books, courses and motivational CDs that you will probably never read or listen to… the message is the same: do anything necessary to keep yourself on task.

Related: How to Find Maximum Business Productivity Between Control & Chaos

In my office, I use basic whiteboards and label the lists based upon the degree of importance. I also carry a plain legal notepad that is constantly evolving.

This is how it all works: I personally have 4 lists.

Download Your FREE guide to evicting a tenant!

We hope you never have to evict a tenant, but know it’s always wise to prepare for the worst. Navigating the legal and financial considerations of an eviction can be tricky, even for the most experienced landlords. Lucky for you, the experts at BiggerPockets have put together a FREE Guide to Evicting Tenants so you can protect your property and investments.

Click Here For Your Guide to Evicting Tenants

My 4 To Do Lists

URGENT is on the whiteboard above my head. This is the do or die list that gets updated daily. These are things that need to happen quickly to move projects forward.

is on the whiteboard to my right. This is a list for “Bigger Picture” goals. It’s more long term and follows a weekly and monthly timeline. These items directly affect the business, but need other steps to get completed to be crossed off.

CALENDER is on my MacBook. This is the daily grind. Scheduled meetings, telephone phone calls, daily online posting schedules and even my exercise routine are on here. My team shares this and knows when I am available or what meeting we have at any given moment. They get a notification when it changes.

NOTEPAD is next to my laptop on the desk staring at me all day. Normally, I have 20-30 items at any given moment. I cross them off when complete and add items as they come to light. There are never enough hours in a day to complete this to do list, but personally, I like it that way. I always keep adding more and more. On an average day, I might execute on 5-7 things on my NOTEPAD. The next day, I will add another 5-7. It’s just a never ending cycle that I love.

Using Lists to Increase Focus

On Monday morning each week, we have a company meeting and go down the list of items on the white boards. We all compare lists, take notes and give updates. This is a fun and intense time because we always have new lists and leave the meeting with all sorts of things to focus on for that week. Each member of our team even has a whiteboard next to their desk and carries a notepad.

Related: 4 Productivity Hacks to Turn Wasted Hours into Quality Time

The goal of all of these lists is constant focus. They haunt and drive your activity every moment of every day. I even have a whiteboard on the inside of the bathroom door to serve as a reminder. Also, just in case something comes to mind, I can quickly write it down. 🙂

At home, we have a whiteboard in our kitchen that includes broad business and personal family goals. Realizing that these two are intimately related is really what pushes me to work so hard — I don’t plan on working this hard forever.

Reading this, you may think to yourself, “This is really simple,” and I say to you “Yes, it is!” The problem most people have is sticking with it. I mean, I know how easy it is to give up or to make an excuse or to just skip it for one day, which usually becomes many more. I have also found that the more complex you make something, the less likely you are to actually do it. I try to keep everything I do very basic, clear and duplicate-able. I want my team to do it too and become committed to their own success.

Consider this my contribution to your success! Start today, and see how far you can go.

How committed are you to your success? Do you keep a list or a calendar, a planner or just wing it?

Let’s talk in the comments below!

About Author

Engelo Rumora

Engelo Rumora, a.k.a.”the Real Estate Dingo,” quit school at the age of 14 and played professional soccer at the age of 18. From there, he began to invest in real estate. He now owns real estate all over the world and has bought, renovated, and sold over 500 properties. He runs runs Ohio Cashflow, a turnkey real estate investment company in the country (Inc 5000 2017 & 2018) and is currently in the process of launching a real estate brokerage called List’n Sell Realty. He is also known for giving houses away to people in need and his crazy videos on YouTube. His mission in life is to be remembered as someone that gave it his all and gave it all away.


  1. Michael Buffington

    I agree. YOU must take action and the only way to make sure things get done is to keep a list of what needs done. I use a google calendar for the daily reminders and a task list in google calendar for all my other to do items. I normally have five or more to do lists running at any one given time. The calendar and to do lists are synchronized across my phone, tablet and computer. As soon as I think of something that needs done or something I want to do it I pick up one of these devices and enter it before the thought is forgotten. I look at my calendar and to do lists throughout the day. It is not uncommon for me to look at my calendar and to do list over ten times in a day.

    It does not matter if you use a digital calendar, whiteboard, notepad or planner. What is important is you created a system that works for you and use it daily. Anytime something pops into your head that needs done get it in writing, even if you are going to delegate it to someone else to get done.

    I only wish I had read Rich Dad Poor Dad earlier in life. I have the audio version of this book and normally listen to it once a year in my travels. This one book changed the course of my life. If for some reason you have not read this book go get a copy today and read it.

    Thank you for the article. I always like to hear what works for others and to see if I can use it in my own routine and systems.

    • Engelo Rumora

      Hi Michael,

      Thanks for your detailed comment.

      You have a great structure and it looks to be more tech savvy than mine.

      Try this… At least 3-4 times per day I get simultaneous thoughts that come to mind. I quickly grab a pen and write the first one down. When I finish writing I loose the other thoughts.

      It drives me nuts. Mind is in over drive all the time…

      Has anyone invented a machine that can plug into your brain and take down thoughts catering for the “To-Do” list? haha

      Probably not 🙂

      Thanks and have a great day.

      • Michael Buffington

        Hmmmmm….a machine that captures my thoughts. That may be scary. I’d need some type of filter on what it records. I like the idea but, only if I could limit what it records. You just may have the next big idea.

        When I started out in business (many years ago) I used a spiral note pad and desk calendar. A trick I learned from a mentor and boss. I started using Google Apps many years ago for our office and quickly learned I could replace the note pad and desk calendar. Since I normally have my phone with me at all time it makes it easy to quickly add notes, to do items and calendar events. I am lost without my phone if I forget it, but only because I don’t have my calendar, to do list and notes. There are many times I put the phone in silent mode and do not answer it through out the day.

        Just remember to turn the mind off for sleep. A problem I have frequently.

        Take care.

        • Engelo Rumora


          Filter is a must. Only business related thoughts 🙂

          I gave up on Google a while back after they didn’t let me register @ohiocashflow.com for our company email.

          The reason was that “offensive” wording was being used within “Ohio Cashflow”

          What the???

          To make things even worse, Microsoft said the same thing lol

          Back and fort with these guys for 2 weeks and finally decided to go ahead and just register the company email with Domain.com

          So far so good.

          Very fortunate to have a great gal running our entire online presence from website to social media, etc… so not mucking around with the tech stuff as much anymore.

          Still struggling to switch off at night.

          Actually just headed to Walmart to buy like 5 Air Purifiers with the hopes of better sleep. Might mix a bit of Vicks in the water also hehe

          Thanks and have a great day.

  2. A very good post, thank you! It is funny that I had to but a full fledge 2015 calendar to kind of get a broad picture of things and decided to carry a planner with me!! Your ideas are great to hear!!!!

    • Engelo Rumora

      Hi Richard,

      Thanks for your comment.

      The calender sounds great. Just get a nice briefcase to carry it around in 🙂

      I have 32 “Bigger Picture” goals for 2015 thus far.

      Its 20 more than last year.

      I will need more good people on board that will support the same vision.

      Thanks and have a great day.

  3. Don Clark

    Nice blog. I too have a white board and note pad. I love crossing out or erasing completed ones. Every time you do this, you know you’re getting closer to your goal. Having a white board, notepad or whatever you use and having a system for using those tools are two different things. I am continually having to remind myself to use the board and the notepad properly. You just can’t write random goals and things down to do. You need to figure out how to accomplish them. What is a simple idea, is not always easy to do. But, when we write our goals, then a plan of action, and then the tasks, this will help us achieve success.

    • Engelo Rumora

      Hi Don,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I will sometimes write the easiest task down on my notepad just for the sake of being able to cross it over with a thick black marker pen once its complete 😉

      Its a mind trick that gives me confidence to tackle the other 20 or so things that I really don’t feel like doing that day.

      Make sure you schedule Monday morning for group meetings or even a meeting with yourself to revise all lists.

      Thanks and have a great day.

  4. Mark Lenox

    Ahhh fantastic; another fan of priority lists! Thanks for the good read.

    Ever since I attended a Franklin-Covey day planner seminar early in my career (it was the early 90’s, yes I am old), I have been a big fan of these priority-type task lists. The biggest benefit to me is that it frees my mind from worries about forgetting something! I can focus on the task-at-hand without wasting energy on “what am I forgetting?”

    For me, I am also a huge tech fan. By utilizing OneNote, I can keep my prioritized task list on my Surface tablet, PC and smartphone all at the same time. I can also create notes regarding each task as I go, and one of the devices is always within reach. The note pages are also shareable. Fun stuff for us highly organized techno geeks!

    At one point in my life, I did reach overkill, where I had my calendar scheduled with tasks. I thought it would work (like from One Minute Manager) to schedule the amount of time it should take to accomplish each task and stick it on my calendar. I don’t know whether it was just overkill or poor execution (lack of discipline) on my part, but that became very frustrating very quickly. I started spending more time rearranging my calendar than actually working on tasks, so I chucked that idea.

    There’s my two cents!



    • Engelo Rumora

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I will need to check out OneNote. I use Evernote to save all articles I come across on a daily basis but don’t have time to read them.

      Another thing we recently started using in the office is HipChat. We can message live and share files, links, videos. etc…

      It helps keep the office quiet without me screaming across the hall if I need something from the others haha

      I keep thinking how good it would be to hire someone to follow me around all day and jot down whatever I tell them lol

      Not at that revenue stage yet 🙂

      Thanks and have a great day

  5. Matt Skinner

    Great post! I too have four (or more) things-to-do lists in various places and have often beat myself up for not getting every thought or idea on paper before it escapes me.
    Thanks for letting me realize “it’s not just me” and we’re all just a little crazy… Sometimes.

    To a productive and organized (no matter how chaotic) 2015, brother.


    • Engelo Rumora


      Love it Matt,

      Nothing pisses me off more than the escaping thoughts lol

      As I mentioned in an earlier post above. The next step to avoid this would be someone following us full time and jotting everything down.

      Thanks and all the best in 2015.

      ps. Please don’t work harder than me. Only committing to 80hr weeks for 2015 😉

  6. Really useful tips, I am wanting to implement these lists starting tomorrow morning (Monday). Right now I kind of wing it although I do have a client to do list that keeps all of my projects organized. As a web designer there’s a lot of moving pieces and I really need it.
    The issue I have is I mostly just check my email in the morning, put out the fires and then work on client projects. That leaves me with not a lot of time for biz planning and outreach. This system will help a lot!
    Thank you!

    • Engelo Rumora

      Hi Geej,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I can guarantee that having such lists will be crucial to your ongoing success.

      They also prove that there is always something to do as long as you update them daily.

      Thanks and much success moving forward 😉

  7. per aasland

    Glad to see that there are more list fanatics out there.
    The never ending cycle of a notepad list is definetly something i can relate to. its a good and very simple method to make sure that you stay productive. if my list looks the same for more than 3 days i go nuts, something always has to be done!

  8. I use an app called TuexDeux to keep me organized and on task. It’s basically an online notepad that allows you to keep multiple lists, is easily customizable, and syncs to all of your devices. It’s not free… But it’s well worth the $2 a month and comes with a free trial that can be extended a couple of months.

  9. Brenda Araujo

    Thanks Engelo, I’m always looking for new ways of scheduling my time and priorities! I’m going to test out your method for a week and see how it goes ; )

    My system now consists of keeping four lists (Real Estate to-do, Website to-do, Connections to-do, and Marketing to-do). I also have a running list of personal/domestic items. Before bed, I schedule items from each list, depending on priority level, for the next day. I even schedule when I plan on eating. I recently incorporated Chad Carson’s Sunday Session tip, in which you spend 10-15 min. each Sunday and make your top ten must-do list for the week.

    I don’t always stick to it. Take last night for example. I didn’t make my list and today I feel discombobulated. Good thing I came across your article to whip me back into shape. Now that I work for myself, it is SUPER important to form, and keep, solid daily habits.

    Thanks again!

    • Engelo Rumora

      Hi Brenda,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Sounds like you have quite a few things going.

      We are just putting together a “I Have Nothing To-Do-List” lol

      This will be for everyone new person that joins our company and it will prove that in Real Estate there is always something to do even when you thin there isn’t haha.

      Thanks again and have a great day 🙂

  10. Carolyn Lorence

    Thanks for an excellent post, Engelo! It’s a great reminder to go back to the basics. When I worked for advertising agencies, we held Monday morning “traffic” meetings first thing in the morning. The entire agency staff – creative, account service and admin – gathered around the giant whiteboard to review the hot projects for that week. Monday through Friday labeled across the top row; staff responsible to execute down the first column. It was a great time for everyone to talk about any challenges, shifting deadlines, reassign teams and get the big picture of work flowing through the agency. There is no electronic scheduling system that can replace that interaction. Valuable to EVERYONE!

    Your post reminded me of this very simple process – and something I’ve been so accustomed to for years. Seems like we are constantly looking for the newest and best app or perfect calendaring system to integrate everything in the name of efficiency. In the long run, we’ve wasted more time in the process. Thanks for reminding us that less is more, and simple is better.

    Here’s to the good ol’ whiteboard and notepad!! How easy is that?

    Have a great and productive day!

    • Engelo Rumora

      Hi Caroyln,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I have always like the KISS approach (Keep It Simple Stupid) 🙂

      I lot of it comes down to me just not being really tech savvy either.

      Monday morning meetings are awesome. I make sure that we spend 1-2 hrs going over the happenings of last week and this week. I also hate daily interruptions and have found that with a detailed Monday morning meeting, those interruptions are reduced significantly throughout the week.

      Playing with the idea of adding a “Team Bonding” get together. Maybe on a Thursday or Friday afternoon. Joke around a bit and let our minds wonder with creative stuff that could benefit the business in the future. This is also key as we all tend to get stuck in the day to day rituals of just pumping out the job and you never really get to STOP and just be creative.

      Thanks and have a great day.

  11. vicki gleitz

    As an Autistic person, I am LOST without lists. May I suggest 2 simple tips that help me. One, the first thing crossed off is something super simple that can be done quickly. That way I can tell myself, “look, you have already made a start and it wasn’t that bad.

    The second thing I USSUSALLY do is the task I most dread. Just get it out of the way. If by chance I cannot get myself to do this unpleasant task right away, rather than procrastinating, I go on to something else. If I am able to complete this difficult one right after the first easy one, I am psyched up to continue.

    One last thing that helps me, is that I schedule pretty much every second [including periods of spontanaity. please do not laugh] and so I sometimes play a little game with myself where I start working on my lists fifteen minutes or half an hour ahead of my scheduled start time. Being ahead of schedule feels great.

    Last thing, and this might just be an Autistic thing, I do not know, but every hour, I stop what I am doing [unless it is already something quite physical] and just move, hop, skip, dance, whatever, for five minutes. This not only releases tension and invigorates me for the next task, but that is often when new creative ideas

    • Engelo Rumora

      Hi Vicki,

      Thanks for your awesome comment.

      The first two tips are definitely something I practice also. I find that if the difficult task is not dealt with immediately, I tend to pass it onto the next day.

      I check my lists easily 20+ times per day.

      I also tend to re-write them everyday.

      The funny things is, if I don’t think its written neatly enough, I will tear and scrunch the paper.

      Sometimes having more than 5 pieces of scrunched paper around me.

      The funny little things we all tend to do 😉

      Thanks and have a great day.

  12. Joseph Druther

    Great great great advice! I have been telling my wife ” we need a BiG board that we can write down our lists and goals. If I have a list on paper I will do so much more than working off lists in my head. After going through a Day when I work off lists in my head I will, without fail be laying in bed and BAM! I will remember all these things I needed to do. Will definitely be getting some more lists made in the next couple of days ;).

    Ps. Loved the podcast. Very inspiring.

    • Engelo Rumora

      Hi Joseph,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I don’t even want to think about how many times I would get out of bed and jot down something that comes to mind.

      If I don’t do it. It haunts me the entire next day.

      Thoughts like this going through my mind : ” You should gotten your a.. out bed and written it down, now you don’t know what you need to do” lol

      Thanks again and I am glad you enjoyed the podcast also.

Leave A Reply

Pair a profile with your post!

Create a Free Account


Log In Here