You know the feeling.
You work the same number of hours every day but feel you’ve accomplished twice as much on some days. You start your day with a to-do list as long as your arm and finish the day with the same list, perhaps slightly longer. You lie down for a night’s sleep and your dreams are invaded by the things you ‘should’ have done.
And despite your best efforts to be the bigger man or woman, you feel a sense of envy as you look at your peers who seem infinitely more in control of their day and their business. If this is you, then you’ll want to read a report from the Financial Planning Association (FPA), through its Research and Practice Institute. The report goes deep on the subject of productivity and time management for financial advisors. I know because I partnered with them on the research!
More than 750 advisors contributed their thinking on the threats to productivity and the tactics that have helped them create a greater sense of control.
Among the key findings:
- A feeling of ‘control’ over one’s day and one’s business was identified as one of the key goals of effective time management
- Despite investing significant time in their businesses, a very small minority of advisers feel completely in control of their time or their businesses.
- Only 13% feel in complete control of their time and 10% in complete control of their businesses; over half of advisers are feeling out of control.
- On average those advisers who feel somewhat or completely in control of their time and their business are holding approximately 50 more client meetings per year
The study offers up a long list of ideas to improve productivity, but perhaps none as fundamental as the framework it describes to assess your own productivity, which starts with a clear strategic focus. The reality is that you could be the most productive person on earth (you know, the “zero-inbox” type) but if you aren’t doing the RIGHT things then it won’t matter. I’d argue that you are just heading in the wrong direction faster.
The secret? Your daily schedule should reflect your business goals. It’s all about doing the “right” things not doing everything faster.
Below is an overview of the three components of the framework with some suggested baby steps to move you in the right direction.
|Strategic productivity is about having a clear goal, for your life, then your business, then your time. When advisors have a clear sense of where they are heading, it is easier to filter out the noise and focus on what is most important.||Identify the 3-5 things that you do that drive your business forward based on your overall goals. These activities are the bridge between your business goals and your daily schedule. For advisors, the top five activities are typically meeting with clients, meeting with prospects, meeting with centers of influence, business planning and managing/motivating the team|
|Structural productivity is about creating an efficient infrastructure to deliver on your goals for the business. It includes the size and structure of your team, the way in which you delegate, the processes you have in place to deliver a consistent client experience and the technology you use to automate that process.||Delegate everything that isn’t on your list above. Pull out your schedule for the last week and look at everything you did (or track activities for the next week if you don’t track too carefully). How much of your time was spent on things that aren’t on your list? What of those things can you delegate. No excuses. Start with one thing today.|
|Personal productivity builds off both strategic and structural productivity and focuses on how you manage your day, focusing at a very tactical level on how they plan and schedule specific activities.||Take 15 minutes before you leave the office and plan for the next day. You could do this in the morning but I’ve found, personally, that this activity creates a sense of well-being when you are out home that is unusually high. Flag the three things you need to do the next day that will have the biggest impact on the business. If your day is primarily booked with client meetings then pick one thing. Everyone is a little different but I do these things first. What would happen if you didn’t book any meetings until 11:00 and gave yourself two hours of time completely focused on accomplishing these tasks?|
A few additional resources if you are thinking about improving productivity:
1. You can download the full report from FPA.
2. Michael Hyatt writes a great blog that often has productivity tips and resources.
3. The guru on time management is David Allen, author of Getting Things Done and creator of Nozbe software. His twitter feed is @gtdguy.
Take the time to get control of time. No one said it would be easy, but it’s worth the effort. If you have comments on ideas on how to improve productivity, please include those below or tweet using #advisorproductivity.