Business Management

3 Productivity Tips That Have Transformed How I Run My Business

Expertise: Real Estate Investing Basics, Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate News & Commentary, Mortgages & Creative Financing, Real Estate Wholesaling, Personal Development, Flipping Houses, Business Management, Real Estate Deal Analysis & Advice
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There are 8 people who work in my office. All of them have different roles and responsibilities to move our real estate investing business forward. This does not include our full time rehab crews or our outside agents who also support the business. We have a great team of people, and I am blessed to work with them. However, as my business has grown, I’ve learned that more people in the office also equals more of my attention getting diverted away from other priorities.

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Even as I sit here and try to write this blog, I’ve responded to 2 text messages and a phone call. In this technology driven world, communication is as easy as the push of a button. While this can be a great thing, it can also be a detriment.

Having spent some considerable time reading books and thinking through the dilemma of compromised productivity, I’ve made some changes in my business and habits to help overcome these challenges.

Related: 5 Steps to Banish Negative Influences (to Become Happier & More Productive!)

1.) Don’t Multi-Task If You Want to Be Productive

I’ve come to learn that trying to do multiple tasks at the same time is never as productive as focusing on one thing at a time. (There are a handful of studies that have been published that back this up.) The problem is that as you switch from one task to the next, there is lost time while you reorient yourself to the new task and then reorient yourself back to the old task. Not only that, the quality of the work is typically not as good as if each task had your full attention.

In my business, I found that as I buried my head in something, I was constantly being interrupted with phone calls, emails, requests from colleagues, etc. I knew I needed to make a big change in my work environment in order to preserve my productivity (and sanity). I actually made the decision to create an office for myself away from the primary business office. Now, I spend my mornings in a quiet, private office with no interruptions or distractions, and I am able to simply focus on my most important work.

2.) Re-Think Your To-Do List

The very first day of work at my first “real” job, I was given a lesson on how to manage a to-do list. I was 23 years old and had just graduated from business school. My manager took me aside on the first day and showed me how she kept a spiral notebook and a running to-do list of all the work she needed to get done. Fast forward 15 years, and I still use a spiral notebook to keep track of all the people who need to get called back, all the problems that need to be addressed, all of the daily tedium that clamors for my attention.

While using this system has been very effective for me over the years, I’ve come to learn that operating a business off of a to-do list is typically reactive rather than proactive. At the end of each day, if I’ve responded to all of my emails and checked off all the items on my to-do list, I feel a sense of accomplishment. However, simply checking off all of the immediate tasks of the day rarely moves the business forward. If you are not moving your business forward and achieving the goals you set for yourself, a to-do list can actually create a false sense of accomplishment.

I’ve had to learn that it’s more important to set priorities for my day, week and month and set my attention to accomplish those high priority items first. I’ve come to terms with the fact that there will be tasks on my to-do list that don’t get done because I am investing my time in other, higher priority tasks that tangibly move the business forward.

3.) Time-Blocking is Essential

Another very important habit that I have had to implement in my business is time-blocking. Time-blocking is essentially the act of creating blocks of focused time where you can work and not be interrupted. Most people who time-block turn off their phones, close their email, and let others around them know that they cannot be interrupted during this block of time.

Related: 8 Ways to Craft a Positive, Productive Real Estate Workplace Culture

Time-blocking is essential to moving your business forward. It’s a time where you can put your head down and work on what your business needs the most at that moment in time. Whether it’s only an hour a day or four hours a day, finding the time to put in focused, uninterrupted work can be a game-changer in your business.

Opening your eyes to productivity killers and implementing just a few simple strategies in your daily work life can make a world of difference in your business. Whether you need to make a few small adjustments or find an entirely new office to work out of, taking the initiative to increase your productivity will always be worth the effort.

What about you? What have you done in your work life to overcome productivity killers?

Let me know with a comment!

Ken Corsini is a seasoned real estate investor and business owner based in Woodstock, Georgia. Ken is best known for his role on HGTV’s hit show “Flip or Flop Atlanta,” and has flipped over 800 houses in Metro Atlanta since 2005. With over 15 years of experience in the real estate industry, Ken has expanded his original flipping business into multiple independent real estate businesses, including Red Barn Real Estate, with over 180 agents in Metro Atlanta across four offices; Red Barn Construction, a custom home-building company specializing in modern farmhouses across North Atlanta; Red Barn Renovations, a full-service renovation company; Black Oak Mortgage, a direct lending company based in Woodstock, Georgia; and InvestorSumo, a technology company focusing on CRM and data needs for real estate investors.
    Jeff Trevarthen Lender from San Jose, CA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great article Ken. I use time blocking all of the time in my business as a mortgage broker. This let’s me control my day without interruption and in turn I definitely get more done. I would also add that when your business permits it, you should think about hiring an assistant to take care of low dollar tasks.
    Terrence Arth Investor from Scottsdale, AZ
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Hi Ken another great topic. I am a little more “seasoned” (way older) than many of our colleagues on BP. Over the years I have also had to implement numerous methods to manage time and shrink work to fit into the time allotted. Two things I try to always do are first, if a specific type of problem pops up more than just a couple of times, it usually is a red flag to me. It means that either a process I have set up is not being followed or the process is incomplete and not working properly. I immediately review all steps in the process, make sure each person is performing the correct tasks, has the proper authority level to move the process along and make sure I can identify where the process broke down and fix that. That way I am not involved in that function unless there are unique variations that demands my input. The second is my next day’s agenda. No matter what, I complete an agenda (work list) of everything I need to do for tomorrow regardless of how mundane. That list contains the (for example) a call to an agent or mortgage broker to check on a RE deal, completing a list of RE offer conditions, and a quick trip to Credit Karma to verify my credit hasn’t had any unauthorized activity. That list will contain things I need to do tomorrow, things to do (steps in a process) tomorrow for a next week deadline, and things to do tomorrow to move along a process for next month or 6 months. It takes a little getting into the groove of developing the steps needed to complete a project 6 months out but it truly pays dividends.
    Frankie Woods Investor from Arlington, Virginia
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great concepts! Thank you for sharing!
    Daniel Ryu Investor from Irvine, CA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Time blocking is a great productivity tip. Whenever I’m coaching co workers or clients on how to be more productive, I bring up time blocking. With a time block, it’s easy to see at a glance how your time is being prioritized and if that aligns with your vision and 120 day goals (that are hopefully mapped out). If anyone’s interested, here’s a good example of a time blocking schedule: Thanks for the article and tips!
    Steve Batton from Elgin, Illinois
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great list, I couldn’t agree more! One method of working that I find helps a great deal particularly with items #1 and #2 is the use of a kanban board instead of a standard to-do list. This helps you to prioritize your work, focus specifically on what adds the most value and limit your work in progress.
    Doug W. Flipper/Rehabber from Alexandria, VA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I was reading through the comments and was going to write/ask about using Kanban. At my last “office job” the engineering team used it and I think they liked it.
    Daniel Ryu Investor from Irvine, CA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I haven’t used Kaban either – I prefer time blocking and a list. But Trello might be a great online and mobile app for using the Kaban method. It’s free and has a great user interface.
    Sean Williams Real Estate Agent from Louisville, KY
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Never really thought of a “To-Do” list as being counter-productive in terms of moving your business forward. Rather having a prioritized list will help push your business forward…great suggestions!
    Troy Fisher Specialist from Kirkland, WA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I love todo lists because they do add a sense of accomplishment, but they can’t be reactive as you stated, they need to be proactive. And while I don’t have 10 employees in an office, my weekly todo list often includes proactive items such as, meet new contacts, improve workflow methods, research one new market. So essentially I insert goals into my todo list to keep me proactive in growing my business.
    Angel Rosado from Bronx, New York
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I love the idea of time blocking, I think I will start using it in my daily life I know that I can gain a lot from it. I have a similar to do list but I schedule it out by time to ensure that I am using my time as efficient as possible, but I also notice that this forces me to live under a microscope and doesn’t allow me to set monthly or even weekly goals.
    Melvin Hazelton from Powder Springs, GA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great Read Very concise and informative.