Consider your average work week. How many days of the week are you very productive?
What about on a daily basis? How many hours a day are you really efficient, while producing meaningful practice results?
The reality is that it takes a lot of practice, focus, and discipline to be highly productive every day. We are constantly distracted by our phones, social media, advertisements, which keeps us from concentrating on the tasks at hand. We are also creatures of habit; “living in chaos” is often easier than taking the necessary steps to restore order.
We are also constantly confronted with the reality of the theory of time management known as “Parkinson’s Law”. Parkinson’s Law tells us that work expands to fill the time we have to complete it. That’s why we’ll postpone simple tasks that don’t have a deadline. Or conversely, having an excessive amount of work done at an extraordinary pace… the day before leaving for a long vacation.
Below, I offer some easy-to-implement ideas to help you fight Parkinson’s Law and maximize your own daily productivity.
- Be clear about what the practice needs to accomplish on an ongoing basis and what YOU need to focus on to achieve those results.
You simply cannot be productive without knowing what you are producing for. Work with your team to develop a list of goals for the overall practice. These goals must be achieved in a given year for the business to continue to grow and prosper. Your list might look like this:
- Organic growth by adding mainly A+ households. (Hint: This alone should help you determine if you’re focusing your efforts in the right place.)
- Increase brand awareness in the community and on social media.
- Provide exceptional customer service.
- Build a culture of mutual respect and responsibility.
Once you have completed your list of practice goals, create goals for yourself that match the practice goals. Everyone on your team should do the same. If you’re an advisor, your goals might look like this:
- Boost your brand awareness by constantly sharing our story.
- Deliver exceptional customer service daily.
- Leverage COIs to meet ideal, like-minded customers.
- Position myself as a thought leader.
Until it becomes natural for your activities to align with your goals, keep your goals on a Post-it note on your desk. Every Friday, reflect for a few minutes on how you spent the previous week and if you were focused on the “right” activities.
- Have you had a conversation with at least one COI this week? During this conversation, did you describe to them what an “ideal client” means to you?
- Have you posted relevant content on social media for ideal leads? How do you know the content was relevant to them?
- Have you contacted at least one higher household to check in and say hello?
- Did you respond to every customer request in less than an hour?
The more you “check in” with yourself at the end of each week, the more your brain will begin to prompt you to remember activities that are meaningful for practice.
- Understand HOW to fill your time productively and what’s stopping you from doing it naturally.
This is particularly important advice for people responsible for generating income.
Some people are naturally comfortable around other people. (These people tend to get high “I’s” or “Influencers” on a DISC assessment). They are comfortable posting on social media, they are not afraid of cold calling, they ENJOY talking to people, even strangers!
However, most people are NOT like this and will therefore delay activities they are faced with that make them uncomfortable. So if you have an associate advisor on your team and there’s free time on their schedule, they’ll be more likely to spend that time doing “busy work” rather than, say, picking up the phone to get away. talk randomly with a client or center of influence.
Recognizing this obstacle can be powerful. Practice adopting an activity that makes you feel uncomfortable until it feels more natural. Here are two examples you can leverage if you have a light schedule and know you should be spending that time looking for trade opportunities:
- Spend an hour texting or emailing customers and/or prospects rather than random calling.
- Spend 30 minutes each day replying to “Twitter” or “Facebook” messages rather than creating your own unique messages.
- Spend an hour a week listing all the questions clients have asked that week regarding financial planning. Spend 15 minutes the following week answering these questions (in a generic way) in various social media posts.
- Effectively manage your inbox.
“I get too many emails every day” is one of the biggest complaints I hear from advisors and their teams. Emails, no matter how many you receive, shouldn’t derail your day. Try the following, enlisting the help of your assistant or chief of staff for implementation. (If you don’t have an assistant, hire one immediately; there’s simply no way to grow and gain ability without one.)
- Respond to every email immediately or as soon as you can.
- If it’s something you can handle immediately, handle it or respond to it.
- If it’s something you know the timeline for, let the person know when you’ll get back to them and cc your assistant. Then “report” the email.
- If it’s something you don’t know the answer to or the timeline for, use the same process as above, but let them know you’ll get back to them with an update at the end of the week.
- Go through all your flagged emails each morning to see if you can clear any emails.
- Allow your assistant or chief of staff to help you stay accountable for all emails they have been copied to. They should include any follow-ups you owe, at the top of your calendar, by the respective date they are due.
- Take advantage of technology, especially your CRM.
Get in the habit of using workflows within your CRM. Too often I’ve seen consulting teams continuously assign tasks to each other, rather than using workflows to automate a series of related tasks in a repeatable process. To do this effectively, you will first need to list, with your team, all the processes that are repeatable in a given week and the activities that correspond to this process.
Once you’ve done that, push those lists into your CRM and assign someone to initiate each workflow. You should have workflows for onboarding new clients, setting up review meetings, dripping on leads and referrals, and processing new business.
Here is an example of a process and its corresponding tasks, which can be automated in the CRM:
- Integration of new customers
- Same day customer welcome email.
- Remind admin to schedule next meeting within 24 hours.
- Reminder to the admin to send a “welcome gift” within three days.
- “What to expect” email sent to customer within three days.
Finally, don’t be afraid to protect your time. Be comfortable saying no, even if it feels uncomfortable at first. Say “no” to meetings and conversations that aren’t meaningful, fulfilling, and/or related to your goals. And say “no” to things that no longer serve you, your team, or your vision for your practice.
Penny Phillips is co-founder and president of Journey Strategic Wealth.