Most financial advisors are not short of ideas for improving their practice. However, the road getting there can be full of obstacles. Here are five simple tips for enhancing productivity and efficiency. Challenge yourself to implement all five. Start with those you are not currently doing, and build from there. Work on one item each week for the next five weeks, or do them all at once and commit to doing them for at least five weeks. Financial advisors who have taken and met this challenge have a clearer focus on their business.
1. Create a new habit.
This is not something you can do overnight, but the good news is it only takes three to four weeks to create a new habit. Consistency is key, and if you can make it through this initial phase it becomes much easier to sustain in the long run. Keep it simple: Do you want to wake up at 5:00 am? Want to start an exercise plan? How about having at least one client meeting per day? Set a goal for yourself and commit to least 21 days. Before you know it, your new habit is routine.
2. Start your day by eating a frog.
Mark Twain once said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” In other words, do the task you are most likely to procrastinate first when your mind is still clear and you haven’t been pulled in five different directions—yet. By crossing this off your to-do list before anything else, you’ll get both momentum and a sense of accomplishment before 10:00 am. You’ll be surprised at how productive and enjoyable the rest of your day will be.
3. Create a tomorrow list.
Building on the frog scenario above, the best way to avoid distraction is to hit the ground running. Before you leave for the day, make tomorrow’s to-do list and put your frog on top. Writing things down the old-fashioned way versus typing it into your calendar will help you keep your tasks front and center. Besides, crossing something out on a list with a pen is far more satisfying than clicking it on your phone or laptop. If you have this list ready first thing in the morning, you can get right to work and feel accomplished by the time you clock out.
4. Time block.
Now that you have your frog and other tasks identified, it’s time to start actually doing them. One method is called time blocking. In essence, this is will help with getting the right things done at the right time for relevant deadlines. Assign blocks of time to specific tasks on your to-do list and put them on your calendar. Do you really need to respond to emails or phone calls as soon as they come in? If they aren’t urgent, block 30 minutes or so to respond. Do you want an hour every afternoon to review client portfolios? Block it. If you find yourself doing the same thing every day at the same time, create a recurring task on your calendar. And don’t forget to block some time for lunch!
5. Make a weekly appointment with your business.
Most of the time, businesses run like well-oiled machines. However, in order to prevent costly repairs, machines should be tuned up on a regular basis. Pick some time every week (and block it!) when are you most creative and attentive to check in on what your business is doing. Is it on Fridays? During your commute? At lunchtime? When you first wake up? Use that time to spend at least 30 minutes to work on your business. Successful business owners and leaders recognize there is always room for improvement. At the end of each session, create one action item to help you get one step closer to the practice you deserve.
About Cetera® Advisors
Cetera Advisors LLC is an independent broker-dealer and registered investment adviser (RIA) firm offering efficient and convenient access to an extensive network of people, products and services to financial professionals. As part of Cetera Financial Group®, a leading network of independent retail broker-dealers, the firm is able to offer all the benefits of a large, well-capitalized broker-dealer, including innovative technology, leading wealth management and advisory platforms, and comprehensive broker-dealer and RIA services, with the personal relationships often found only at a boutique firm.
Cetera Advisors is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) and a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA). For more information, visit ceteraadvisors.com.