Financial Advisors: How to Become More Productive

by Bill Good Marketing on May 28, 2011

Getting the Important Things Done

I have recently read two extraordinary articles which can help financial advisors become more productive. Each article by itself is worth serious study. Together they will help financial advisors get the right things done, better.

On the Harvard Business Review Blog, I found “The Only Way to Get the Important Things Done” by Tony Schwartz, author of “Be Excellent at Anything” and CEO of The Energy Project. I found the article on my LinkedIn News feed. Someone I’m connected to or someone they’re connected to recommended it. Thankyouverymuch.

Mr. Schwartz made a very strong care for turning the important things in life into rituals. These are actions you do without having to think about them. Habits anyone?

He wrote “Acts of choice,” the brilliant researcher Roy Baumeister and his colleagues have concluded, “draw on the same limited resource used for self-control.” That’s especially so in a world filled more than ever with potential temptations, distractions and sources of immediate gratification.”

The less you have to decide on mundane actions, the more there is of you to concentrate on the creative, unique and vital opportunities that come your way. \

I would put it this way: you want these mundane actions performed in the same way your liver or heart does its job. If you are thinking about either, you have trouble.

This has given me a fresh insight into “The Model Day” that I introduced into the financial services industry 25 years ago.

For those not familiar with it, you identify the categories of action you need to perform. Planning, outgoing calls, investment research, client meetings, weekly staff meeting, to name a few.

You take a blank weekly calendar and create time blocks for each category. Most should be daily. There is discipline involved: at the end of one time block, you’re done with it. Force yourself to move to the next. This way the important categories of action get done. You prioritize within each action category.

Example:

7:00    Plan the day.

7:45:    Meet with Sales Assistant. Review appointments set for today.

8:00    Outgoing calls to clients, prospects and cold prospects.

10:00    You get the idea.

Read “The Only Way to Get the Important Things Done” on the Harvard Business Review Blog. From there, I linked over to his Facebook page and his blog where there is a lot more good stuff.”

Getting More of the Important Things Done

My second recommendation is “Recovering from Information Overload.” I found this on the McKinsey Quarterly website. Strongly recommended.

The first paragraph hits any of us overloaded with stuffed inboxes, bulging “read later files,” and scores if “If only I had time to…”

“For all the benefits of the information technology and communications revolution, it has a well-known dark side: information overload and its close cousin, attention fragmentation. These scourges hit CEOs and their colleagues in the C-suite particularly hard because senior executives so badly need uninterrupted time to synthesize information from many different sources, reflect on its implications for the organization, apply judgment, make trade-offs, and arrive at good decisions.”

The rest of the article makes the case against multi-tasking.

My solution:

1)    In your Model Day, set aside frequent mini-time blocks to check your email. I have been experimenting lately with a time management-perhaps better named concentration management-system called, of all things, “Pomodoro.” I will write this up separately, at the very brief summary is: work 24 min. uninterrupted on an important project. Take a 6 min. break. Then do another “Pomodoro.” (The name is Italian for “tomato.” It was created by an Italian who named it after a timer in the shape of a tomato that he used. There’s an iPhone app called Pomodoro. Use it to set 24 min. alarms. Stay focused. Take a break for 6 min. Handle any e-mails that came in. Go back at it. Oh and of course you can really take a break.

2)    In Outlook, turn off the automatic notification window that float on your screen with every new e-mail. Also turn off the sound. Instructions to turn off automatic notifications in Outlook 2010 are here. To turn them off in Outlook 2003, go here.

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