Building a business is extremely stressful. One way to make it a little easier is to create systems that increase your efficiency.
When you put systems in place, it frees up your time for more important tasks.
Think about it this way: if you want to flip houses and you conduct the entire renovation by yourself, you can only flip so many houses per year. However, if you build a team that understands your business model, you can flip multiple properties at the same time and increase productivity 10X.
Systems, like the team mentioned above, allow you to scale your business.
One easy way to save time is by creating templates for things like emails, forms, drill holes, etc.
I was mounting a television to the wall yesterday, and the box came with a mounting template for drilling the holes. It was as easy as locating the stud, taping the template to the wall, and drilling where it showed.
That is MUCH easier than trying to measure out the distance between screws and ensure everything lines up. A simple template like this saved me at least 5-10 minutes and probably some unnecessary stress.
One of my favorite things to do is save email templates. If you send the same email twice, create a template for it. I have a Google Drive folder with 15-20 templates in it for various things. Any time I need to send one of those emails, I simply copy, paste, and address the email.
This may not save me hours every time, but it definitely saves me a few minutes and eliminates the risk of typos and deviations in the messages I’m sending.
Another idea would be creating templates for any forms you utilize regularly. You could create a questionnaire, application, or even just a well-designed biography for interviews. I have an entire press media kit on my website so that anytime I am interviewed, every bit of information they could need is centrally located.
Not only is this much easier for me because I don’t have to send multiple emails, but it is also easier for them because everything is in one place and they have multiple options to choose from.
I have a checklist for every time I film a YouTube video or podcast. That checklist has saved me MANY times from having to record a video twice because I forgot to turn on the audio recorder.
Yes, that used to happen before I made the checklist.
I have a checklist for turning over my short-term rental, uploading content, and all sorts of things!
Pilots utilize a checklist prior to taking off, and I would imagine they have trained/practiced more than you and I have recorded podcasts.
There is no reason for you not to create a checklist for important tasks in your business.
Document Everything You Do
One of my coaches just recommended that I do this, and it helped a lot with identifying my time-wasters.
For one month, document everything you do for your business. I understand this seems daunting and will take a little extra time each day, but it will be worthwhile! At the end of each day, write out every task you accomplished. Be sure you are honest with this. Otherwise, you won’t reap the full benefit of the exercise.
The easiest way to keep track of this is in an Excel document. This will allow you to sort/filter by various activities later.
At the end of the month, review all of your tasks and break down the number of hours spent on each. Then, give each activity a rating based on how important it is.
Now you can rack and stack to determine where your time needs to be spent and which tasks would be better off to outsource.
Idk about you, but I get distracted way too often!
This isn’t hard to do, and we often don’t even realize it happened until we look back at how little we accomplished over that time.
A prime example, I downloaded TikTok last month after Gary Vaynerchuk recommended it as a viable platform. It is much more addicting than I had originally thought, and one day I looked down and realized I had been scrolling for almost an HOUR!
Holy smokes, talk about a HUGE waste of time. I immediately began budgeting my time on this application, but it is still tempting to let it distract me periodically.
Be aware of what is distracting you and put safeguards in place to avoid them.
Emails are a huge time-suck for me.
I know that if I see emails, I will spend time answering them. They appear to be an “easy win,” but realistically they are more distracting than anything else.
I recommend sorting your inbox so that emails you absolutely HAVE to respond to immediately go into a separate folder. Then, only look at that folder in the morning. Otherwise, set a specific time to look at email and don’t deviate from it.
Another option is to hire a virtual assistant (VA) to go through your inbox. This VA could even respond to basic questions for you and ultimately keep the pile of emails from stacking up! I am working on the best way to outsource this as we speak. My emails are a large time-suck and an easy distraction…I’m so guilty of this!
Cell Phone in Another Room/Off
No matter how useful they are, cell phones are addictive and can definitely be a waste of time.
“There’s a very good reason why smartphone addiction is on the rise: smartphones, and more to the point, the apps that smartphone users install on their phones, are designed to addict users. Apps like Facebook and Instagram are specifically crafted to cause your brain to release a chemical called dopamine.” (source)
Dopamine is a brain chemical that literally makes us happy. Every time you see that somebody liked a photo on Instagram or shared a picture of you on Facebook, it is like a small hit of “happy-drug” for your brain.
For this reason, it is very difficult to ignore our phones. In fact, it can be almost like going through withdrawals.
When I want to accomplish something important, I make it a point not to bring my cell phone into the office. I’ll silence it and throw it somewhere out of sight and out of mind, lest it distracts me from the important task at hand.
There are also applications that track your activity on your phone. Some applications can even lock you out of apps in order to keep you from wasting too much time.
You need to acknowledge how much time your phone is wasting and put safeguards in place in order to avoid it controlling your productivity.
Wake Up Early
I know you probably rolled your eyes when you read this subheading, but waking up early is a HUGE way to increase your productivity!
My first alarm goes off at 0355 every day. That allows me to get through my entire morning routine and sit down at my computer to work before 80% (making that percentage up) of the world is awake. I’m able to put in 2+ hours of work on my side business before I leave for my “real job.”
There are far fewer distractions in the morning. Fewer emails, phone calls, social media distractions—the world is…calm!
Not to mention that you will feel awesome waking up early and tackling difficult tasks before the sun is even up!
Learning how to create systems for your daily battle rhythm is super important!
An urgent/important matrix allows you to separate important tasks from “busy work” that will distract you.
I created a real estate investing-specific urgent/important matrix that you can download here. Stick it on the wall and utilize it to waive off distracting “tasks” that are devouring your time.
A great way to implement systems is by outsourcing tasks to other people. In the last few months, I have hired a video editor, podcast editor, and an editor for all of my writing. These editors have enabled me to produce more content in less time and with higher quality than when I was producing the content on my own.
I know some of you are thinking that you can’t afford to outsource, and that might appear to be true…but perhaps you can’t afford not to. How much faster can you build your business if you focus on the high dollar per hour tasks?
The best way to decide what to outsource is by documenting all of your monthly tasks and then prioritizing them as discussed earlier.
From there, you should outsource either the tasks that take the most time or that you are the worst at.
Outsourcing is a powerful way to increase your productivity without increasing the amount of time you work!
Automation is wonderful. A simple example is the five-email “welcome aboard” series that people receive when they join our mailing list. Can you imagine having to remember to send five emails over the course of a week anytime somebody joined?
That is the power of automation! Technology allows us to automate a lot of tasks in this day and age, and it is wonderful.
You can automate sales funnels, onboarding processes, webinars, paying bills, sending invoices, and a myriad of other things.
One of the greatest ways I have been able to create systems is through cloud storage, like Google Drive. I used to be forced to send multiple emails to my lender with W2s, previous tax returns, photocopies of my identification, income statements, etc. But now I have it all in a Google Drive folder. In that folder, I have a subfolder for all previous year’s tax returns, W2s, bank statements, identification, and anything else my lender might need.
All I have to do now is send him the link to the Google Drive folder. If he thinks of something else that is required for a loan, I will simply add it to the folder(s) for use next time as well!
Little tricks like this have saved me a ton of time and also have lessened the annoying, repetitive tasks that I used to do.
Go Create Systems!
Too often people put off the need to create systems because “it takes time to set up a Google Drive” or “What if my video editor isn’t…insert excuse here”. This is the wrong way to look at it.
You need to think about the amount of time that you’ll be able to save by creating this system.
Do NOT make the mistake of putting off an hour of work upfront if it will save you hours of work in the long run!
Here are my (David) favorite real estate investing apps for 2021!