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.
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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 Business. I’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…
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.
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%.
6.) Turn Key Investing
Although this is not an avenue that I will be taking immediately, I think it’s worth addressing here because:
- This post is titled “How To” … so it should apply to YOU as well
- 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.