Putting It All together – Bento 4Posted on July 31, 2013 by
“To say that I am organized is an understatement, but my car tells a different story.”
~ Emily Procter
I love summertime, don’t you? So many memories in the making! Barbecues with the family. Long, lazy evenings by the pool. Ball games and beer. Mowing the lawn. Mowing the lawn again. And mowing the lawn again…. And when, oh when, are those kids ever going to sleep? Man, it’s hot! I’m going inside.
I love air conditioning, don’t you?
When you’ve had enough of the summer heat, maybe it’s time to pay some attention to your office. You do have an office, right? And no, a pile of paper on the kitchen table doesn’t count as an office. You need some dedicated space. It could be just a corner of a room but it needs to be set aside just for business. It needs to be pleasant, quiet, and comfortable.
You may not want to spend the time, but it really is important for you to organize all the files and “stuff” you’ll have around you. If you’re not organized, things fall through the cracks. Deadlines get missed. Money evaporates. I’m speaking from experience here. There was a time when my home office looked like the aftermath of a hurricane. Stuff was everywhere. That’s when I knew I had to get organized!
Now, it’s your turn. Your home office doesn’t have to be expensive. It does need to be reasonably efficient, though, so setting it up deserves some quality time and attention.
Just a few years ago, “organization” meant filing cabinets and bookshelves. You still need at least some of these, even with all the technology you have at your fingertips. Of course, you’ll also need a desk and a chair. And by that, I mean your own desk and chair, not that rickety junk from the yard sale that your kids rejected.
I used to recommend that my students buy a good mortgage calculator, a cellphone, a camera, a computer, and maps. Now, you have all of those in one tiny package: the smart phone.
There are still a few die-hards that want a phone that’s just a phone. Even though I understand the desire to keep things simple, I guarantee you that your toughest competitors have smartphones. Why give them that advantage?
But it’s not enough to just have a smartphone. It’s not even enough to have lots of great apps on your smartphone. You need one more thing: Time.
You’ve got to invest time to learn the software and customize it for your own individual needs. I know so many people who have the latest smartphone with all the latest apps – but they don’t’ have a clue how to use them. They just want to turn it on and go, and when they can’t figure it out right away, they give up. They might as well have one of those clunky car phones from the 1980s.
In the system I’ve developed, I’ve gathered all the best software and customized it for real estate investors. That’s half the battle right there. But even the best collection of customized apps won’t do you much good if you don’t take the time to educate yourself; and of course you may still want to customize it for your own unique situation. So think of time as an investment – in yourself!
Take Bento 4 for example. Bento is a wonderful organizational app for iOS systems (that is, Apple products). Lots of you have separate programs for contacts, schedules, budgeting, and projects. Bento integrates all those functions – and many more – into one handy app. It’s highly customizable so you can fit it exactly to the way you do business. Better yet, there are loads of templates already created for you. A couple dozen are included in the program, but you can go online and choose from hundreds more. (A word of caution: anybody can submit a template, so there are some clinkers in with the gems). Once you’ve downloaded a template, you can change the content and the look until it’s just right for you. You can even encrypt information and program it to do simple calculations. It’s really versatile.
The first few times I opened Bento, though, I was completely mystified. It looked really great but it sure seemed complicated, so I avoided using it for a long time. I thought if Bento was any good, I would have been able to figure it out right away.
Finally, I decided to invest a little bit of time. I went on Youtube and found an hour-long video about the basics of Bento. I looked at some other tutorials. I explored all the templates and played with them. Then, I worked on customizing the templates and entering data. Now I see how practical it is. (By the way, make sure you get Bento version 4 or later). But it took several hours of learning and practicing and tweaking templates before it was of much help to me.
My efficient little virtual office took some time to set up and learn. But these days I take apps like Bento almost for granted. With one little box smaller than a deck of cards, I can check the time, make a phone call, take pictures of a house, download it into a database, link the record to a contact, encrypt the phone number, track my expenses, and find a coffee house.
And that leaves me more time to enjoy those long summer evenings. From now on, though, I’m paying the neighborhood kid to mow the lawn.