How to Cram 8 Days into a 7-Day Week

By
Real Estate Agent with Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., Crofton, MD 21114
http://actvra.in/FpP

Going digital is like adding an extra day to my week.

However, it's not possible to wave a magic wand and instantly go from "buried in paper" to "paperless."  Let me tell you how I've done it.

I ran into a former client in the grocery store a few months ago and impulsively asked this stay-at-home mom if she'd like a part-time job helping to digitize my paper files.  She accepted my offer and, since then, she has worked in my office for two hours every Tuesday and Thursday evening.  Now, six months later, real estate files no longer overflow my desk and file cabinets. 

Go Paperless

Here is my recipe for going digital:

  1. Create digital folders in Dropbox for Sales, Listings, and Rentals.
  2. Create sub-folders for each case within the appropriate digital folder, including separate sub-folders within Listings for listing and sale documents.
  3. Go through the client folders in my email account and save attachments to the appropriate Dropbox folder (and ultimately a CD).  I save documents by date (2012.07.20), street name, brief description.
  4. Go through corresponding paper folders on top of my desk, in file drawers and in boxes under my desk to identify duplicates of the saved attachments... and discard them.
  5. Scan and save in Dropbox all remaining documents from the paper folders, and discard paper documents.
  6. Back up Dropbox folders to CD, and give current clients a copy of the CD at closing.
  7. Create digital folders in Dropbox for Forms, Business Expenses, Monthly Market Statistics, Mailing Lists, and General Inf ormation; 
  8. Scan and save blank forms, receipts, etc. in appropriate digital folder and discard paper documents.

 

It's not easy to let go of that paper... after all, someone might need one of those receipts or documents in the future. The truth is that it wasn't easy to find anything in the mounds of paper that previously filled my office.  Now I can use my iPad, mobile phone, or any computer to access my digital files - anywhere, any time!

Having a part-time assistant take responsibility for this project was the key to success.  The expense to me has been minimal, but the payoff is huge. The truth is that any time you delegate some of your workload, you can add their time to your week.

If you want to go digital, but you're having a hard time getting started, think about people you know who might help.  It really will empower you to cram eight days into a seven-day week!

 

P.S.  Check your state requirements to determine if "originals" of real estate contracts and other paperwork must be saved.  If so, consider submitting those originals to your office.  Let the broker store the paper!

Posted by

Margaret Woda, Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.
Military Residential Specialist (MilRES®)
(410) 451-6245    mwoda@mris.com

Margaret Woda

 

Search for homes and explore the pages of MargaretWoda.com at your own pace and convenience. You'll find information about homes, communities, military relocation, and the home buying or selling process throughout the greater Crofton area. It will be a privilege to help you, and disappointing you is simply not an option!

 

Information contained in this blog post is reliable on the date of publication, but it is subject to change without notice.

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Comments 11 New Comment

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Rainer
71,997
Tamara Elliott-Deering
Central Metro Realty

Margaret,

Great advice.  I'm pretty good about the going digital part, it's the getting rid of the paper copies that I'm really struggling with.  I like your ideas about dropbox.  I've used it for some active files but I've never used it for an archive.  I think I'll start working on that.  I'm also considering taking all of the paper that I think I "might need some day" and throwing it into storage boxes and taking it to the shed, I'll still have it but I won't be in danger of drowning in a paper sea.

Thanks for taking the time to write the blog.

Tamara

July 24, 2012 07:16 AM
Rainmaker
234,648
Jenny Durling
For Los Angeles real estate help 213-215-4758
L.A. Property Solutions

I already have a digital archive of all of my files on CD but I do still have boxes of closed files in the basement anyway. I suppose I could simply have a bonfire!  Over the last year I've turned into a 'green' office and ask that nobody send me anything in hard copy. Escrow emails me documents, I have everything signed digitally and I save to individual folders in dropbox as you suggested.  So nice not to deal with all that paper!

July 24, 2012 07:22 AM
Rainer
276,790
Kathryn Maguire
Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach
GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881

Dropbox is one of my favorite apps but I still hold on to paper.  Perhaps this is the year to make the switch.

July 24, 2012 07:32 AM
Ambassador
883,752
Margaret Woda
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., Crofton, MD 21114

Tamara - Leting go of the paper is hard.  That's another benefit of delegating this project to an assistant - he/she won't have the same emotional attachment to all that paper!

Jenny - Hire someone to digitize those boxes of closed files!  My assistant recently completed the real estate course, and she reminded me that we only have to keep case files for five years.  We are digitizing them before we discard them, however.

Kathryn - There's no way to do this project while conducting business as usual.  The key is to have someone else do it.  I can't tell you how many times I've gotten some random phone call from an old client asking for a copy of some document, and I've been able to send it from my iPad (sitting on a bench in the mall) rather than waiting til I got back to the office.

July 24, 2012 08:02 AM
Rainmaker
1,590,399
Dorie Dillard
Realtor-Canyon Creek- NW, Austin TX Homes For Sale
Coldwell Banker United Realtors

Hi Maragret,

Great tips! We have been storing our files in Sugar Sync and can access them from any computer..no more files in boxes and cabinets. We have 2010, 2011 and now 2012 in Sugar Sync..still holding on to the older files (need to save for 5 years) but will soon have no more paper files!

July 24, 2012 10:45 AM
Ambassador
883,752
Margaret Woda
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., Crofton, MD 21114

Congratulations, Dorie.  That's about how far I go back now with digitized files.

 

July 24, 2012 11:44 AM
Rainmaker
88,528
Heidi Kelley
Getting you where you need to be.
Keller Williams Realty Newport, East Bay Rhode Island

Thank you Margaret.  As an real estate agent of almost 1 year I am finally accumulating massive amounts of papers, folders etc.  I have recently started using Dropbox and I'm lucky enough to have caught onto this digital file saver early on.  I try and embrace technology especially if it saves time and money.

July 24, 2012 01:39 PM
Rainer
180,045
Tatyana Makarov
Your Greater Hartford Area Realtor
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

I know, I know, Margaret... It is a lot of extra work..

I use Dropbox. That wolks good for now.

July 24, 2012 04:16 PM
Ambassador
883,752
Margaret Woda
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., Crofton, MD 21114

Heidi - You ARE lucky!  When I think of all the paper accumulated over a 40-year career...  Don't get me wrong, there's still a lot of paper, but it helps to eliminate all the duplication - especially after closing.

Tatyana - Huge help, isnt' it?  But don't forget to back up to a flash drive or CD, just in case they ever go down and your case files are lost.

July 25, 2012 05:05 AM
Rainmaker
951,458
Kathy Clulow
CNE - ASP - SRES .... Uxbridge Ontario Real Estate
RE/MAX All-Stars Realty Inc. Brokerage

Margret - Your title drew me in as Barrie has always said people think we work 24/7 with some trying for the 25 hour or the eighth day.  .....  I keep poking around at going virtual but I am still stuck in the paper world for now ..... hiring some one to do sounds like it would be a good solution.

July 25, 2012 11:22 AM
Ambassador
883,752
Margaret Woda
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., Crofton, MD 21114

Kathy - Every hour that someone else works on our behalf is an extra hour in our week.  'Wish I could afford more!

July 26, 2012 05:06 AM
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Ambassador
883,752

Margaret Woda

Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation
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