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Four Steps for Managing the Distractions of Summer

Create a daily high-priority summer to-do list, and stick to it.

I don’t know about you, but I love summer.  It’s an awesome time to chill, recharge and have fun in the sun with family and friends. And the greater the resources, the more opportunities for fun.

All of this came to me after listening to an advisor tell me all about his new boat, the price he was planning to get for his old boat, and his extensive boating plans for the summer. All good stuff, I’m sure he’s worked hard and this is one of his rewards. But let’s face it, summer can be an unproductive time for financial advisors as they can, like our new boat owner, get lured into a vast array of distractions.

Whenever we’re distracted, we underperform. This is not unique to financial advisors, professional sports is littered with gifted athletes who’ve underperformed. As a football fan, quarterback Ryan Leaf immediately comes to mind.  Drafted No. 2 behind Peyton Manning, he was a Heisman Trophy finalist, PAC-10 Offensive Player of the Year and first team All-American. Yet he was out of the league in less than four years.

I’m not inferring that your world is anywhere near Ryan Leaf’s dysfunctional orbit, but the distractions of success and money are real, yet the summer provides a perfect opportunity for developing a process for managing these distractions, i.e.—being more productive.

The following four steps provide dual benefit; 1) help manage your distractions, 2) enjoy your summer without guilt.  

Step 1: Identify Your High-Priority Activities

The best place to start is to think about the needs of your top 25 clients on both a professional and personal level. This requires a careful review of each client—last contact, face-to-face interactions, summer plans, etc.

This is relationship management and it’s inextricably linked to relationship marketing. The summer months are likely to provide ample opportunity to socialize with top clients and penetrate their spheres-of-influence.

So, what are your high-priority activities? It shouldn’t be a long list. Less is more. A perfect example is a financial advisor who leads a team that manages $750 million in assets. His 2019 high-priority “to-do” list was pure simplicity:

  • Call three top clients a day on a personal level
  • Have a social lunch with one top client a week
  • Attend at least two social events a month
  • Lead his team by example

Step 2:  Assess Your Execution of these High-Priority Activities  

Unlike the typical investment disclaimer—past performance is not indicative of future resultsyour past execution of these high-priority activities is highly indicative of your future execution. Because we’re creatures of habit, human behavior is subject to patterns; we go to bed at the same time every night, wake up at the same time, arrive at work at the same time, etc. The good news is that these patterns can be altered, which is much easier than trying to break a bad habit.

The secret is to take an honest assessment of your past execution, and then take baby-steps by keeping everything simple. For instance, in the above example, scheduling one social lunch and three personal calls to top clients were new activities, but they were simple to execute and became a pattern within a month.            

Step 3: Create a Daily Summer High-Priority To-Do List

Start by identifying the most important task of the day.  Yes, the summer is different and you won’t be able to execute all of you high-priority activities every day, some will be weekly, others bi-weekly and some will be capitalizing on a situation that popped-up. But every day will have at least one for two key activities that must be complete—which is why you should create a daily summer high-priority “to-do” list.  Think in terms of top clients, professional alliances and prospects; communication, personal interaction, professional meetings and getting social.        

Herein lies a hidden challenge, consistency of execution of your daily high-priority activities that frequently changing from day-to-day; social lunch, attending a social event, hosting an intimate event or chatting with a top client or referral alliance partner on the phone, etc.

Step 4: Execute!

Like everything in life, the ability to execute is what distinguishes doers from dreamers. We have found that when a financial advisor creates a daily high-priority summer “to-do” list – it gets completed far more often than not.

There is no secret formula to engaging the discipline necessary to execute your daily summer to-do list. However, by applying yourself in Steps 1-3, the fourth step is a natural—the probability is extremely high that your daily high-priority “to-do” list will be completed.

As I shared these steps with our new boat owner, he immediately began to think of using his boat as the basis for his high-impact summer activities. My bet is that he’s going to spend a lot of time this summer on his boat and be more productive.    


Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients.

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