Consider your average work week. How many days of the week are you highly productive?
What about on a day-to-day basis? How many hours a day are you truly efficient, while also producing meaningful results for the practice?
The reality is it takes tremendous practice, focus and discipline to be highly productive each day. We are constantly distracted—by our phones, social media, advertisements, making it difficult for us to focus on the tasks at hand. We are also creatures of habit; “living in chaos” is oftentimes easier than taking the steps necessary to find order.
We are also constantly faced with the reality of the time management theory known as “Parkinson’s Law.” Parkinson’s Law tell us that work expands to fill the time we have to complete it. It is the reason we will procrastinate simple tasks that have no deadline. Or conversely, get an inordinate amount of work done at an extraordinary pace … the day before leaving for a long vacation.
Below I provide a few easy-to-implement ideas for helping you counteract Parkinson’s Law and maximize your own daily productivity.
- Be clear on what the practice needs to achieve on an ongoing basis and what YOU need to focus on for those results to be met.
You simply cannot be productive without knowing what you are producing toward. Work with your team to craft a list of objectives for the overall practice. These should be things that MUST be achieved in any given year for the business to continue to grow and thrive. Your list may look something like this:
- Grow organically by adding mostly A+ households. (Hint: This alone should help you recognize whether you are focusing your efforts in the right place.)
- Deepen brand awareness in the community and on social media.
- Deliver exceptional service to clients.
- Build a culture of mutual respect and accountability.
Once you have completed your list of practice objectives, create objectives for yourself, that align with the practice’s. Each person on your team should do the same. If you are an advisor, your objectives may read something like this:
- Deepen brand awareness by consistently sharing our story.
- Deliver exceptional client service daily.
- Leverage COIs to meet like-minded ideal clients.
- Position myself as a thought leader.
Until it becomes natural for your activities to align with your objectives, keep your objectives on a Post-it on your desk. Every Friday, reflect for a few minutes on how you spent the prior week and whether you were focused on the “right” activities.
- Did you have a conversation with at least one COI this week? During this conversation, did you describe to them what an “ideal client” means to you?
- Did you post relevant content on social media for ideal prospects? How do you know the content was relevant to them?
- Did you connect with at least one top household to “check in” and say hello?
- Did you respond to every client request within an hour?
The more you “check in” with yourself at the end of every week, the more your brain will start to cue you to remember the activities that are meaningful to the practice.
- Understand HOW to fill your time productively and what prevents you from doing so naturally.
This is an especially important tip for those responsible for generating revenue.
Some people are innately comfortable engaging with others. (These people tend to score as high “I”s or “Influencers” on a DISC assessment). They are comfortable posting on social media, they do not fear cold-calling, they ENJOY talking to people—even strangers!
Most people though, are NOT like this and thus will procrastinate the people-facing activities that make them feel uncomfortable. So, if you have an associate advisor on your team and there is free time in their calendar, they will be more inclined to spend that time doing “busy work” than let’s say, picking up the phone to randomly check in with a client or center of influence.
Recognizing this hindrance can be powerful. Practice easing yourself into activity that makes you feel uncomfortable until it feels more natural. Here are two examples that you can leverage if you have a light calendar and know you should be spending that time looking for business opportunities:
- Spend an hour sending text messages or emails to clients and/or prospects rather than randomly calling.
- Spend 30 minutes each day responding to “Twitter” or “Facebook” posts rather than creating your own unique posts.
- Spend an hour once a week listing out all the questions clients asked that week pertaining to financial planning. Spend 15 minutes the following week addressing those questions (generically) in various social media posts.
- Manage your email inbox effectively.
“I get too many emails every day” is a top complaint I hear from advisors and their teams. Emails, no matter how many you receive, should not derail your day. Try the following, enlisting the help of your assistant or chief of staff to implement. (If you do not have an assistant, hire one immediately; there is simply no way to grow and gain capacity without one.)
- Answer every email immediately or as soon as you can.
- If it is something you can handle immediately, handle or answer it.
- If it is something that you know the timeline for, let the person know when you will get back to them and cc your assistant. Then “flag” the email.
- If it is something you don't know the answer to or timeline for, use the same process as above, except let them know you will get back to them with an update at the end of the week.
- Skim all your flagged emails every morning to see if you can clear any emails out.
- Allow your assistant or chief of staff to help you stay accountable to all the emails they have been cc’ed on. They should include any follow-ups that you owe, at the top of your calendar, on the respective date they are due.
- Leverage technology, especially your CRM.
Get in the habit of using workflows within your CRM. Too many times I have seen advisory teams continuously assign tasks to each other, rather than use workflows to automate a series of tasks tied to a repeatable process. To do this effectively, you will first need to list out, with your team, all of the processes that are repeatable in any given week and the activities that correspond with that process.
Once you have done that, transfer those lists into your CRM and assign a person to be in charge of kicking off each workflow. You should have workflows for onboarding new clients, delivering 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:
- Onboarding new clients
- Welcome email to client same day.
- Reminder to admin to schedule next meeting within 24 hours.
- Reminder to admin to send out “welcome gift” within three days.
- “What to expect” email sent to client within three days.
On a final note, do not be afraid to protect your time. Get comfortable saying no, even if it feels uncomfortable at first. Say “no” to meetings and conversations that aren’t meaningful, fulfilling and/or tied to your objectives. And say “no” to things that no longer serve you, your team or your vision for your practice.
Penny Phillips is the co-founder and president of Journey Strategic Wealth.