by Mark Ainley
I had a meeting with my team earlier in the week, and we were having a conversation about which new projects we were going to be undertaking. We came to a consensus on which internal project we were going to work on. We were wrapping up the meeting, and I asked, “What is the next step?” Everyone looked at me puzzled. I was sitting there thinking, we just spent 30 minutes trying to figure out the next project, and we were about to wrap up the meeting without knowing what needed to happen next.
Breaking Down Tasks Into Actionable Steps
David Allen, who was a BiggerPockets Podcast guest, opened my eyes to this. I remember buying his book Getting Things Done around 2005 off a bargain rack at a bookstore. (Yes, there used to be places where you could go to buy books.) While I haven’t been very successful implementing all of his teachings (my label maker has about an inch of dust on it), figuring out the next action step has stuck with me.
Think of all the things that you have on your to-do list. There are probably many of you who have “buying an investment property” on your list. That may seem like something you could do, but until you figure out what the very next physical step is going to be, nothing will happen. You need to break these projects down into more manageable actions. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. That is how you have to deal with these big projects.
If my project was to buy my first investment property, my first step would be to figure out my finances. My next actionable step would be to gather all of my bank accounts and see how much money I would be able to put into a property. If I had enough, I would then check my credit to see if I would be able to get a bank loan.
If my credit was good, then I would start talking to banks and see how much of a loan I could qualify for. But wait, you might even want to break down the “talking to bank” action. Maybe what you really need to do is some research first on which banks to talk to. Or maybe the first step is finding the phone numbers of the banks that you want to meet with and make an appointment with one of their loan officers. You need to drill down and figure out every next step. It takes a minuscule amount of planning to figure out the next step. This small little step keeps those projects off the shelf and allows you to move forward.
Working in Smaller Time Increments
Here is the key when you drill down and figure out the next actionable step. Let’s say your next step is calling a bank to set an appointment. How long will taking that action take you? Five minutes? Ten minutes? How long will it take you to “buy an investment property”? I don’t know. Hours? Days?
When you break down the project into smaller steps, you don’t need to set aside 4 hours to start working on that project. You can work on that project when you have 10 minutes of downtime between meetings. It gives you actionable steps where you don’t need to set aside a whole day to do something. Who can find a whole day to do anything? If you don’t break it down, then the project doesn’t keep moving because you can never find those large blocks of time to keep it moving forward.
If you don’t keep moving the project along, it eventually starts collecting dust and you never return to it. In your mind, it becomes too difficult to pick it back up. This strategy helps you keep the ball moving on all of your projects. It will keep you more productive and will help you accomplish big goals that other people think are too much to take on.
What actionable steps are you taking to reach your real estate goals?
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