Getting Organized: Save Time and Money With Checklists

Say goodbye to sticky notes and piles of paperwork; using a checklist system ensures that nothing falls through the cracks.

October 1, 2005

When I first became involved in the real estate business, I didn’t have a reliable system for organizing important business matters. For marketing ideas, to-do lists, and even client information, I found myself using the storage space in my brain or a manila folder and sticky notes.

Then the day came when I received the phone call from my most important seller, asking me a question that I should have been able to answer. But I kept him waiting because I couldn’t find the information I needed. The answer was there—somewhere under my mountain of paperwork—but I frustrated him with my inability to respond quickly.

This was my wake-up call to become better organized, and a checklist system was the answer. By using checklists, you will never forget new ideas that can improve your business and be able access all of your key transaction information easily.

Hard Copy or Digital?

To develop your own checklist system, first decide: hard copy or digital? By maintaining digital lists on your computer, you can share the lists with colleagues and clients who want to monitor how a deal is progressing. Some software applications such as Top Producer 7i even allow you to create customized lists for different areas of your operation.

However, many real estate practitioners find hard-copy lists to be effective because they can bring a pad of paper and a pen into any meeting and physically check off tasks as they are accomplished.

Perhaps the best option is to maintain hard copy lists but transfer the information to your computer in the evenings or at other scheduled times.

A List for Everything

What kind of information should you keep in your checklists? Anything and everything that relates to your business.

Maintain separate lists for topics such as “Marketing Ideas,” “Prospects I Met Today,” or “2006 Expenses.” You can keep a “To Do” list for each week or month, and a list for every deal in your pipeline. For each deal, include client contact information, important phone numbers, and all of the actions that must be completed in order for the deal to close. When you get a call from your most important client, you’ll know just where to find answers and you’ll be able to provide a quick rundown of all that’s been accomplished to date.

You can develop a checklist of what to bring with you to a listing presentation or a closing, which can help relieve stress as you’re getting ready for the event. You also can list closing gift ideas, birthdays, or virtually anything else that you want to remember for future reference.

The Biggest Perks

Of the many benefits of a checklist system, perhaps the biggest is not forgetting those great ideas that pop into your head during the course of a day. Every time you think of a business idea or go to a seminar and learn something new, add it to a checklist. The idea almost certainly fits under some category.

Remember the times that you shook your head and wondered where all the money went? A checklist can help you cut expenses. Go back to your “Expenses” list and ask yourself: “What could have been eliminated that nobody would have missed?”

Checklists also provide the foundation for delegation. Look at your “To Do” checklist for the day or week and find tasks that could be handled by an assistant. You’ll create more time in your day to meet new clients and make more money.

For a checklist system to work, it’s important that you review your lists periodically. For example, when it’s time to draw up next year’s marketing plan, go to the “Marketing Ideas” list. When you’re experiencing a slow month, revisit the “Prospects” list. By using checklists, you can increase efficiency, save money, and free up valuable real estate in your brain.