When the Rolling Stones’ version of “Time Is On My Side” climbed to #6 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in 1964, who knew that they’d be still alive and kicking (even Keith Richards, for Pete’s sake!) AND touring, 49 years later. [Robin Leach reports that a 2013 Stones tour is imminent!]
Whether or not you are excited to see a 70-year-old Mick Jagger do his thing on the stage, here are some time management techniques for successful financial advisors of any age:
- Time audit. Too obvious, right? Well…how are you spending your time each day? Don’t know? Maybe you should audit yourself. Monitor how you spend time over a one week period. Write down what you did in 15-minute intervals, and update every 2-3 hours. Use a notebook, spreadsheet or free time tracking software or apps such as Officetime or HoursTracker.
- Be realistic in assessing the relationship between time and tasks. What activities do you encounter daily? What are the realistic time frames for the completion of these activities? If you are continually exceeding deadlines and/or if you don’t complete what you expect to do, maybe you need to re-assess what is realistic?
- Delegate-Eliminate-Automate (DEA). How much of your day is spent doing things that you think that you are supposed to do, or because it's always been done that way? Take a look at your schedule, especially the “time-hog” activities and ask yourself, “What can I straight up get rid of?”…through delegation, elimination, or automation?
- Become a better delegator. If you find that you seem to be working around-the-clock because you believe that you have to do everything…maybe the core problem is YOU. Are you delegating all that you can, or should? Or possibly, your team members are not clear on what is expected of them? Maybe, the skills and responsibilities are mismatched? Clarify duties, delegate more, rework team roles, and leave your office in time for a workout and dinner.
- Stop the interruptions. Eliminate the perception of always being available. Schedule time for priority tasks, and inform your team. Close your door. Let the phone ring. Stop multi-tasking too. Unless your brain is a computer, multi-tasking does not work.
- For team leaders, interruptions work both ways. Similarly to reducing interruptions for yourself, avoid interrupting your team, if at all possible. As thoughts come to you regarding items for discussion with members of your team, write them down. At a mutually convenient time, share a cup of coffee and have a highly focused conversation…as opposed to pinging them with multiple emails or other messages that divert them off task.
- Divide and conquer. Do you find that, over the course of your day, you have small blocks of time, e.g. five, 10, or 15 minutes, that you end up wasting for lack of anything better to do? I know one super-successful advisor who spends 10 minutes at the beginning of each day developing a to-do list of tasks that can be completed in 15 mins or less. (Examples: send an email, prep for a client-meeting, book an appointment, skim an article, etc.) When he finds that he has a spare 10-15 minutes between calls or appointments, he jumps to his list and knocks off one or two of his items.
- Set boundaries. Re-think 24/7 communications. Just because you can check your emails at 10:38 PM doesn’t mean that you should. Really and truly, routine office communications have little place in the home. Establish reasonable office hours, and get closure at some point. Don’t let work follow you home like a lost puppy.
- For team leaders, develop a culture of productivity. For highly effective teams, strategy is important. Yet, culture is even more important. In fact, with respect to productivity, culture trumps strategy. This might mean that, as a leader, you consistently model some of the behaviors outlined above.
Time-management is really self-management. In addition to some of the ideas put forth above, how else can you CHOOSE to manage your day and yourself more efficiently? What great ideas have your heard recently, with respect to time management that you have yet to implement, for no good reason?
There’s no time like the present, is there?
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