Ah, freedom! Its enticing allure is what draws many to pursue the bi-polar profession of financial advisor. However, advisors discover all too often that this highly coveted freedom balances on a double-edge sword, and has the ability to catapult them to tremendous success or lead to their ultimate demise in the business.
Essential to successfully managing this gift of freedom is an elusive skill set known as time management. It remains a perpetual challenge for advisors from day one in the business, until the day they ride off into the sunset agreement.
Ask any advisor what the secret to time management is and they’ll likely respond that it’s no secret at all. The answer is time-blocking. There’s only one problem with that. Advisors don’t do it. The business is reactive by nature and that’s exactly how most advisors respond to tasks, demands and requests that come up throughout their day—reactively.
This results in a tremendous amount of time wasted. In his book, The One Thing, Gary Keller points out, “Researchers estimate that workers are interrupted every 11 minutes and then spend almost a third of their day recovering from these distractions.” And these statistics are likely even more extreme in a reactive business such as ours!
I’ve had the pleasure of coaching advisors for over 12 years and when asked what they would most like to have happen as a result of coaching, the one universal response I hear more frequently than any other is, they’d like to be more proactive and have better control of their day. And while the answer does lie in time-blocking, it is not time-blocking in the traditional sense.
The whole concept behind time-blocking, traditional or otherwise, is that when you block out certain times for certain tasks, it allows you to get into “the zone.” When you’re talking to a client, you’re in a different place emotionally and are using a different part of your brain than when you are talking to a prospect or working on a proposal. If you’re constantly stopping and starting each of these tasks throughout your day in a reactive manner, you never get into “the zone” where you are most effective.
When you think of traditional time-blocking, you typically think of blocking out specific hours in your day to perform certain tasks. For most advisors, this technique may be effective for a day, a week and for a few, highly disciplined individuals perhaps slightly longer. Eventually however, life gets in the way. A 1% day in the market, a client crisis or something else trashes your well-intended hourly time blocks before they even start. $#@% happens, right?
There is a much better way to time-block that’s not only easier to do, but far more effective for financial advisors, regardless of time in the business. Because I’ve been one, as well as coached thousands of them, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on a week in the life of a typical advisor. So, let’s begin our discussion of this new time management strategy there.
For advisors and humanity in general, Mondays are a day for easing into the new week. It’s been my experience that most people don’t like making phone calls or receiving them on a Monday. It tends to be a weekend recovery day more than anything else. The real workweek begins on Tuesday and extends through Thursday. Fridays are more laid back and are called “casual Friday” for reasons far beyond the attire you wear. It tends to be more of a pre-weekend day and advisors and clients alike are usually gone by early afternoon.
So given this typical week, a primary aim of our new time management strategy is to not only get you into “the zone” but do so for longer periods of time, while utilizing more of your week for productive activity. How do we do that? We do it by time-blocking whole days instead of hours. Here’s what your new week would look like:
Mondays = Cushion Days: Complete all non-calling tasks.
- Complete all your planning for the week
- Schedule out everything on your calendar
- Do all your proposals for the week
- Prep for all your meetings for the week
- Review accounts & make notes for your calls during the week
- Do research
- Prepare for your LinkedIn prospecting activities for the week
- Set your LinkedIn editorial calendar for the week
- Anything that does not require calling a client or prospect do on Mondays
Tuesdays and Thursdays = Client Days: Do all client-related activities.
- All outgoing client calls are made on these two days
- All client appointments are scheduled on these days (Occasionally you may have to deviate from this but as much as possible, schedule them on these two days. It’s all about training your clients.)
- Everything client-related happens on these two days
Wednesdays = New Business Development Days: Do all tasks related to prospecting and new business development. These are the tasks most likely to get squeezed out of an advisor’s schedule. Now you have one day devoted just to business development.
- Call prospects
- Make follow-up calls to prospects
- Schedule all prospect appointments (Occasionally you may have to deviate from this but as much as possible, schedule them on Wednesdays)
- Schedule all prospect lunches, meetings or outings
- Handle all seminar or event related activities
- Everything prospect-related happens on this day
Fridays = Catch-Up Days: Do exactly that.
- Catch up on anything that didn’t get taken care of earlier in the week—calls, appointments, outings.
- Review what you accomplished for the week relative to your goals.
- Plan out and make a list of what you need to accomplish on the next Monday Cushion Day
NOTE: If you want more time devoted to prospecting and new business development, simply flip your client and prospect days so that Tuesdays and Thursdays are Prospect/New Business Development Days and Wednesdays are Client Days.
Every advisor I’ve had commit to this new time management strategy has had a significant increase in productivity. What I hear over and over again is not only are they getting much more accomplished, but no one day seems overwhelming anymore. However, this time management system is no different than any other new system you attempt to implement. It will take a diligent commitment from you to adhere to it, especially during the first couple of weeks. If you make that commitment, you will be more organized, more effective and it will be like adding hours to your week and revenue in your pocket!
Keep in mind that Time Management is just one of the 9 essential systems every successful advisor has in their business. Get your business under control, increase assets and revenue and build confidence with this FREE Step-by-Step 9 Systems Quick-Start Guide.
Erin Tamberella is president of Executive Transformations and author of the new book, Plateau to Pinnacle: 9 Secrets of a Million Dollar Financial Advisor. The book is written as a business parable to keep advisors reading with step-by-step to-do lists at the end of every chapter. To learn more and see what industry professionals, including the Editor-In-Chief of Horsesmouth are saying, click here.