Apps like Trello, Contacts+ and Pocket help real estate agents work smarter, not harder

Managing time, tasks and contacts has never been easier

The world of business is littered with clichés, and real estate is no different. Coaching seminars, podcasts, conventions, that one older relative so many of us have who seems to have every Henry Ford quote memorized (now replaced for others by the “Quotes” stream on Pinterest) … there is no shortage of sources for these little turns of phrase that surround us.

Clichés have their purpose — they’re often grounded in truth, and when they’re not too folksy they do tend to resonate with us more deeply than textbook business practices. However, they can also occasionally become a placeholder for where useful content should be: meaningless buzzwords.

Smartphone image via Shutterstock.
Smartphone image via Shutterstock.

In this first installment of a three-part series examining “The Tyranny of the Urgent,” let’s cut through the noise and look at a few solutions to help real estate agents fulfill the mantra of perhaps the No. 1 cliché thrown out by the coaches and educational offerings I’ve experienced: “Work smarter, not harder.” Without further ado, here are three great tech solutions to help you do just that by assisting you to become more organized, beginning the process of bringing order to the chaos.

“Trello? Is it me you’re looking for?”

I have to hand it to Seth Price at Placester. Not only does he have a wicked fashion sense (his fluorescent pant choice at Inman Connect San Francisco sent almost as many shockwaves through the industry as Zillow’s “Coming Soon” announcement), but he possesses and shares a mountain of knowledge. Past the real estate stats and best practices, however, Seth introduced me to Trello, and I can honestly say it’s had an incredible effect on my business.

We all wear a lot of hats these days, and those hats tend to fill our days with no shortage of tasks to accomplish. Enter Trello, a brilliant Web-based project management platform that has the flexibility to double as a personal task management system. Highly visual, Trello uses a series of “boards” a la Pinterest on which you can place “cards” to organize your thoughts and the tasks at hand.

For example, you can set up time frame-related boards labeled “Now,” “Today,” “This Week,” “This Month” and “This Quarter.” I would then suggest a board labeled “Incoming” where you can place new tasks for later sorting and the most satisfying board of all, “Done.” You then add cards to each of the boards to lay out your time and priorities, easily dragging and dropping these cards to aid in re-evaluating your plan of attack. It’s one thing to have 20 to-do’s written down on a piece of paper; however, having those tasks as cards that you can sort on the fly offers a clarity that will help you to eventually drag more of those cards over to the “Done” board.

For my account, I’ve instead created boards related to areas of my life and projects within them. I have a board for each of the projects I’m working on within our brokerage group; personal boards relating to fitness, travel and household tasks; an Inman board where I jot down article ideas; and a business planning board where I place those big ideas for the future. As an agent, you could have a board for each listing or transaction, or each client.

Do you have a checklist of tasks that you use to manage each new listing? Create that checklist once and then you can copy and paste it into a new card; Trello will ask if you’d like to it automatically create multiple cards based on line breaks in what you posted. Voila! Multiple cards at the click of a button. If you prefer fewer cards, you can also easily add checklists to the “back” of any card as well.

If you have a team, Trello also supports multiple users and allows you to assign tasks making transaction management a snap. Finally, you can manage all of this on the go via the excellent iOs and Android apps.


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