A few weeks ago I described how to Systematize Your Business for FREE with Google. In that post, I showed how you can use some of the many FREE tools from Google to create business systems. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. If you like the free tools but really want to pull them all together to manage all of the items in your business (and your personal life), check out GQueues.
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What is GQueues?
GQueues is what Google Task should have been, which is a full-featured task manager. Although that may not sound very sexy, anyone that has a business knows that keeping track of everything is no small feat. There are some software systems out that that charge a lot of money to organize and help run businesses. The great thing about GQueues is not only is it free (there is a paid version for only $25/year), but once configured, it can be a life changer with managing not only your business, but also your personal life.
Free vs. Paid
Before I jump in to everything you can do with GQueues, I just want to explain the differences between the free and paid versions. You can create tasks and do basic functions with the free version, but the real power comes with the paid version. For $25/year, you can also get task reminders, Google Calendar integration, task sharing/assignments and an app for your phone. Both my wife and I use the paid version and this article will describe some features that are only available in the paid version. There is a free 2 week trial of the paid version if you want to try before you buy.
Before we get into some of the setup/flows, it is important to understand some of the key concepts of GQueues.
- Categories: Think of categories as folders. They hold queues (lists) and allow you to organize them.
- Queues: A queue is basically an ordered list. Your queues are where you will store your various tasks.
- Tasks: A task is something that you need to do.
- Tags: Tags are a way to add additional information to a task. You can then view all tasks across queues with a specific tag).
In the following sections, I’ll work through the basic setup, then explain the various workflows that I use to manage multiple businesses as well as my personal tasks.
Define Your Categories
By default you GQueues will have a “Smart Queues” and “My Queues” categories. I added 3 additional categories:
You can create as many categories as you would like. I suggest looking at the overall types types of work that you want to track and creates categories based on that.
Create Your Queues
Once you create your categories, the next step is to create one or more queues for each category. Below are some examples of my queues.
- Businesses (Category)
- Business 1
- Business 2
- Business 3
- Properties (Category)
- Property 1
- Property 2
- Property 3
- Last Property
- Books to Read
- Blogs to Write
- Website Updates
- Home Projects
Start Adding Tasks
The last step for setup is to start creating some tasks. Since tasks live on queues, you will add tasks to their respective queue that they are for.
- Businesses (Category)
- Business 1 (Queue)
- Define 2014 Business Goals (Task)
- Analyze properties from new MLS blast (Task)
- Add rental application to website (Task)
- Business 1 (Queue)
- Properties (Category)
- Property 1 (Queue)
- Install tile in the bathroom
- Repaint bedroom 2
- Install new carbon monoxide detector
- Property 1 (Queue)
Put It On Steroids
Up until now we have just done basic creation and sorting of tasks. At this point, there is not much advantage to this over most other task management systems. Below I will explain how to combine the popular time management methodology Getting Things Done with GQueues to create the ultimate business management system.
Combining Getting Things Done (GTD) with GQueue
Getting Things Done (GTD) is a popular time management methodology. At a summary level, all things that need to be done get added to an “inbox”. This helps to make sure that we don’t not keep outstanding tasks on our mind and makes sure we do not forget anything. At points in time (1 or more times a day), the inbox must be processed and each task must be reviewed. One of the following 4 actions must be performed.
- Under 2 Minutes -> Do It Now
- Action to Take -> Assign it to the correct context list
- Delegate -> Assign to someone and indicate that you are waiting for it
- Specific Date/Time -> Throw it on calendar
If an action does not need to be performed, then it should either be deleted, put on a “Someday/Maybe” list to be reviewed later or filed for reference.
Many people use their email as an inbox. With GQueues, you can use the Inbox queue so that emails/tasks do not have to sit in your inbox in your email. Once you have your Inbox queue, anytime you think of something that needs to be done, add it to your inbox queue. This can be done via gqueues.com, the Chrome browser plugin or the Android/iPhone app. You can then process your inbox at set times and move tasks to their appropriate queue.
With the GQueues plugin for your browser, you can quickly create a task from any website. This means that if you have an email that generates a task, you can create a task with a link to that email (assuming you are using Gmail), and then archive the email out of your email without fear of not responding. Additionally, you can save any website into a task for reference when working on that task.
Integrating Tasks with Google Calendar
GQueues can integrate with your Google Calendar. This means when you set due dates/times, they will display on your calendar. They will have a different color code than other items on your calendar so you can easily tell that they are tasks. So you can look in GQueues for all task by context, or look in Google Calendar for all tasks by day/time. Additionally, you can schedule a daily email from Google calendar of all tasks/meetings for each day.
It can be difficult to remember everyone that you are waiting on from others. With GQueues, you can assign tasks to others and still keep track of them in your own queue. The other person will receive an email and can also view their assignments in GQueues.
These queues come out of the box and can be added onto. They allow you to configure queues (even pulling tasks from other queues) but setting filters and criteria. Out of the box there is a queue for “Overdue” tasks and tasks “Due Today”. These can be a quick reminder of things that you need to do.
Enhancing Organization with Tags
Each tasks can be tagged, which is another way of organizing items. So an item may be on your business queue, you if you can only do it at your office, then you can tag it. Then when you are at your office, you can look at all of the tasks that you have tagged to be completed at your office.
Some of My Real Estate Workflows
So now that we have all of the building blocks on place, you are probably wondering how you can apply this to your business. Take a look below at some of the workflows that I use for some ideas/inspiration.
Managing Rent Collection
One item that any buy and hold investor needs to manage is collecting rent and understanding who has paid vs who has not. I have each property setup as a separate queue. For each unit, I add a recurring task for the 1st of each month. I include the unit address, current tenant and rent and they are all tagged with an “Outstanding Rent. This way, whoever is processing the rent can go and view the “Outstanding Rent” tag and see all rent that we should collect. Then as they collect and deposit the rent, they can mark the task as complete. When the 5th of the month comes around (when rent becomes late and we send 3 Day Pay or Quit notices), the person sending the notices can go into the “Outstanding Rent” tag and know who to send the notice to and for how much.
Tracking Property Repairs
One of the items that differentiates a successful landlord and a “slumlord” is staying on top of repairs. Not only will it keep your tenants happy, but it also means that issues are taken care of before they become larger issues. We learn about issues with our properties from a variety of sources:
- Calls/voicemails/texts to our business number in Google Voice
- Emails from our tenants
- Results from our quarterly property inspections
When we become aware of an issue, we add a task to the queue of the property/unit. We then assign it to our property manager for awareness and give it a tag of “Work Order”. Out property manager will then go out and resolve the issue. They then add notes of what the problem was and mark the task as complete. We can look at the “Work Order” tag to see what open work there is, who is is assigned to and the target date to complete (if one).
Keep History of Each Property
There are times where we need to go back and see some historical information about a property, such as when did we replace a water heater or when did someone pay rent. All of the tasks that are marked as complete go to an “archived” status. So you can either search all of your tasks, or you can go to a specific queue and just look at the archived tasks. In this way, you get a picture of the history of the property. Who the tenant was at a point in time, when rent was paid, where repairs were made, etc.
One of the ways that I manage my real estate business is to batch all of my non-urgent work together and do it 1 day a week. I call this the “Sunday Review”. So my assistants know that anything I need to review gets added to the “Sunday Review” and I know that I have the list of all items to take care of when I sit down on Sunday.
Keep track and managing all of the items in your real estate (or any) business can be a hassle. There is software out there that can assist, but they are often expensive and may be overkill. There is plenty of free or low cost solutions that may work well for you business.
How do you track all of the work for your business? What process and tools help you keep on top of your business?
Photo Credit: Lizette Greco