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How to Achieve a Five-Hour “High-Impact” Day

By identifying wasted time in your day and focusing instead on $1,000/hour activities, you can cut down your workday and grow your business at the same time.

Years ago, I asked an advisor I was coaching: If you did everything you needed to do on a daily basis, what impact would it have on your income? His response? It would double.

I then asked him to outline his perfect day, and he listed six activities, which I call “fixed daily activities.” I asked him how long it would take him to complete his six activities, and he said he could have them all done by noon.

This advisor could double his income by doing what he already knew how to do and work only a half day? Yes, but it had to be a productive half day. I followed his progress for a few months, and he was true to his word—doing his six activities in a half day. Whether or not he doubled his business, I never audited the results, but my guess is that he was successful.

Many of today’s offices are unwittingly designed to sabotage productivity. Sure, you can attempt to close your door and time block, but with interruptions coming from all directions (assistants, advisors, management, wholesalers, clients, emails, family, friends, etc.), the odds are against you.

If you want to shorten your workday to a highly productive five hours, you’re going to have to become extremely organized, develop a laserlike focus that enables you to prioritize, and then execute and evaluate the new routine you’re developing. 

The following steps will get you started:

Step 1: Assess Your Current Day

  • Create a detailed outline of your current day. 
  • Identify wasted time. What was it that pulled you off track? Don’t judge or defend your actions—the idea is to become aware of your time wasters. 
  • Identify activities you’re involved with that could be delegated. The objective is to focus on $1,000/hour activities, those high-priority activities.
  • Identify the high-priority activities you were engaged with. How much time of your day did they require, and could they have been handled more efficiently?
  • Determine the $1,000/hour activities relevant to your goals.
  • Project the time required to complete your $1,000/hour activities.

You must commit to eliminating time wasters and determining to whom you will delegate and/or outsource those areas of responsibility that have been gobbling up blocks of your precious time.

Step 2: Prioritize

  • Create a priority “to-do” list ($1,000/hour activities) for each upcoming day.
  • Identify to whom, how, and when you will delegate non-$1,000/hour activities.

Step 3: Execute, Evaluate, Repeat

  • Execute Step 2 for two weeks.
  • Make necessary adjustments.
  • Conduct a second evaluation for two weeks.
  • Evaluate and make any necessary adjustments.

Most likely there will be a handful of adjustments to make, and then it’s another two weeks of execution and evaluation. At this stage you will be very close, if not spot-on, to your highly productive five-hour workday.

Tune out the naysayers. You’re going to have a lot of less-focused, time-wasting advisors who are going to be very envious of your productive five-hour day. They’ll likely try to get you to backslide into your old unproductive habits. Consider yourself forewarned.

Whether or not you double your income isn’t the point—it’s all about being focused on your goal, improving your daily productivity and working less.

Matt Oechsli is author of How to Build a 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing and Retaining Affluent


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