A typical real estate investor's desk is littered with accumulated paperwork for a variety of projects that are in various stages of completion. Depending on your organizational skills, you may have a haphazard pile of paperwork that you have to dig through any time you need to locate a document or you might use file folders, paper trays or – the bane of my existence until recently – neat looking piles . However, as many of you know, I'm embracing the use of technology more and more in my everyday investing activities by outsourcing many tasks to virtual assistants. There's a new solution that can save you time, money, and clear much of the paper off your desk. Even better, if you've bought a new computer recently there's a good chance the solution to a lot of your organizational problems is on your desk top right now, waiting patiently to be put to work. I'm talking about a little known computer program called Microsoft OneNote.

Computer programs typically talk a good talk, but seldom follow through. They either do not work properly or the learning curve is so steep you're tempted to give up before it's been given a fair chance to prove itself. OneNote is different. Microsoft usually comes up short when it comes to making software applications user friendly, but this time they've really knocked out one of the park because OneNote is easy to learn and it's easily adaptable to real estate investing. You'll be up and running in no time and within a week you'll rely on it as heavily as the air you breathe. Here's how I've put OneNote to work. OneNote, billed as a note taking program, can be adapted for use as a real estate investor's best friend. The first thing you need to know about OneNote is that it's set up like a notebook. Look at it as a multi-sectioned notebook. You can create tabs for all of the properties you're currently considering. You can keep all of the details of a specific property on one page for easy reference.

In addition, if you've gotten emailed bids from contractors, signed contracts, or even appraisals, you can simply create a new page for your notebook and – using the copy / paste function – can neatly drop the appraisal into your OneNote program. Now instead of ultimately searching for a specific email that contains an attachment you need, it's available at your fingertips. One of the sexiest aspects of this program that makes it so useful for real estate investing applications is the fact that if you have property photos, audio recordings (for instance if you use a digital tape recorder to note property properties or notes about a property to remind yourself, etc.), or digital video tape recordings of prospective properties you may have, you can simply drag and drop the files onto your OneNote page.

To view it or listen to it you double click the file and it plays. While your file plays you can refer to any page of your notebook. Way cool! If you use a virtual assistant to compile property listings for you, OneNote makes this a breeze as well because file sharing is another feature the program has. Instead of using a clunky spreadsheet for this aspect of your investing, you can jump on the technological bandwagon and really ramp up your productivity. This program is perfect for anyone who wants to get organized or clear some of the excess clutter off of their desk. Once you make a decision to purchase a property, you can easily move a tabbed property to a different notebook or copy and paste everything about that property to a different notebook within OneNote. You're not limited to just one notebook – you can have an infinite number of notebooks and the ways you can utilize this program are limited only by your imagination.

Two final aspects of OneNote that you're sure to love: If you're surfing the web and you see a property, an article, or something else that strikes your fancy, simply right click, copy & paste it into OneNote. The program snags your content and even includes a clickable link back to the original source page. If you're not sure where to put something, do not despair. You can temporarily put it in an uncategorized section that you can move later on, so you'll never have to let a lack of time prevent you from storing information you'll need later on. And there's no chance that you'll forget to save changes, etc. because it's automatically saved! As you can clearly see, Microsoft is as flexible as you need it to be. Play around with the program and find other ways to put this program to work for you today. Real estate investing has never been easier with all of the great programs and gadgets out there in the marketplace today. The idea is to make more and work less and with programs like this, it makes that possible!

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