Advisors are often confronted with a problem: “I have the desire but I just don’t have the time!” Time is in increasingly short supply. Even with the continuous advancements made by technology, most advisors experience a sense of falling behind.
Remember, time management is a misconception – you can’t manage time; everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day. You can manage your choices – by focusing on personal management you will start to see a positive shift when you try one or more of these things.
As a financial advisor, especially if you run the firm, you have multiple demands coming at you at all times.
Depending on style, some people thrive on chaos and change, but many do not. The typical advisor behavioral style is more organized and logical – think “planner.” Because of this, make a list each and every day of the top three priorities you will focus on for the upcoming day. Why three? Because three is manageable. Three allows you to bring your attention back to what you need to do, even when new things are thrown at you and you might have trouble focusing. Pick three things you can prioritize and commit to get them done for that day. Other things will get done too but you will go home with the satisfaction that you accomplished at least three things that really mattered.
Put yourself through a time-management study.
This isn’t as hard as you may think. For two weeks straight (more if vacation happens to come within these two weeks) record what you are doing in 15-minute increments. Don’t judge yourself, just write it down. Have one column for the day, one for the time and one for the action and leave a fourth column blank. At the end of the two weeks, in the fourth column mark: green, red and yellow for each activity. Green is one that was a priority and only you could complete, Red is definitely not a priority and someone else should have done it or it should not have been done at all, yellow is “don’t know.” Go through the list and circle all of the red things that could be removed from your plate. Take a few minutes to take stock of what you did focus on and consider whether it was the right amount of time on each thing. It sounds like more work but my clients who have done this tell me it is completely life changing to have the data.
Take stock of what you are good at and delegate the rest.
Too many advisors get mired in things that are not their expertise. When any of us are not good at something, trying to just plow through and get it done is tough. We get stuck. We struggle. We use more energy than we need to because we think we should do it. If you don’t end up doing the time study in suggestion #2, simply make a list throughout the day of things you find yourself doing that you (a) don’t really enjoy and (b) aren’t good at. When you create a list review it and see whether you can create a role, or outsource activities to someone else to do these things. There may be confidential items such as doing performance reviews for your senior team members that just could not be delegated even though you don’t like to do them and may not be good at them! So, be judicious in your thinking and get every small, unimportant thing off your plate.
Find outsourced options to help you.
There are virtual assistants, outsourced experts such as on elance.com or guru.com, interns (paid or unpaid), new graduates looking to get some experience, stay-at-home mothers who would like a few hours of work during the school day and on and on. There are no excuses for not being able to find some fill-in talent who can help you. Financial advisors use custodians, asset managers and other vendors. Seek input from these partners for ideas on how to outsource more effectively.
Use your calendar effectively.
Take a look at your to-do list. It’s typically a laundry list of things you need to do, often in no priority order and not organized with timelines (although you may have due dates). Review your list and break down your to dos into more manageable, chunked pieces. For example, “Annual review with the Jackson family” is a to do but you know, in order to prepare, there are several steps to take to get ready. Start to write down steps, instead of broad to dos and then put each and every step with a time assumption on your calendar. Don’t leave things to chance, instead note when you will do it, and what you will do. This discipline also allows you to delegate – as you write something down, is there someone else who could do it for you? When you get diligent about doing this, it can also be life changing.
Hopefully one of these tips will help you to shift the experience of losing time and help you to be more in charge.