When you work for yourself (and your clients), time is your biggest asset. It’s amazing to me how little value people put on their time. I’ve seen financial planners come into the office and spend their entire mornings reading The Wall Street Journal cover to cover. Before they know it, their entire day is gone and they’ve got nothing to show for it. While this might work out if you’re part of a large company and have others picking up the slack, it’s definitely not going to cut it when you run your own business.
Procrastination and lack of efficiency are the two biggest enemies of productivity. It’s vital that you learn how to limit (or eliminate) procrastination and boost your efficiency if you want to be the best fiduciary and reach your seven figure business goals. Here are some of the best tools I’ve found that can help you get there.
Track Your Time
It’s likely that you don’t even know how you spend the majority of your time, especially if you’re used to working for a large company. That’s why I advocate keeping a time journal for a few weeks. It may be cumbersome, but it can really open your eyes as to where you are frittering away valuable time.
Keep a small notebook and pen on you at all times and jot down when you start and end an activity. This can be anything from getting coffee in the morning to responding to emails or chatting with co-workers. Try to keep to your normal schedule during this time so you don’t skew the results. At the end of your tracking period, analyze what you’ve written. How much of the time you spent during the workday was actual ‘work’? Did some tasks take much longer than they should have? Why? Knowledge is power when it comes to time management, and this is an excellent place to start.
I’m not suggesting you should continue to track your tasks with a notebook and pen for the rest of your career. Talk about a waste of time!! However, there are some really useful apps out there that can help you out if you do want to boost productivity.
One of my favorites is called Harvest. This handy app actually shows you how much time you are spending on your phone, whether you are checking email, scrolling through Facebook, or otherwise wasting time. If you’re like me, you’ll be amazed at how much time your phone is sucking out of your day.
Another favorite is a to-do list app called Wunderlist. This app helps assign activities and assists you in keeping track of everything you need to do that day. It’s taken a huge amount of stress off my shoulders as I no longer worry constantly about everything I need to get done.
Tools like these are relatively inexpensive and if they help you be more productive, very much worth the minimal investment.
Pinpoint Your Biological Prime Time
About a year ago I read the book The Productivity Project (highly recommended) and it had an idea of creating your calendar based on your biological prime time. Huh? I know, it sounds like something out of a made-for-TV movie. But it’s really about tracking how you feel during the day and pinpointing when you have the most energy. For example, I found I’m most productive first thing in the morning, so that’s when I schedule my important meetings or projects that take the most concentration and attention to detail. I tend to run out of gas in the afternoons, so I schedule my less intensive tasks like responding to email or visiting with colleagues for those hours.
Identify Your MIT
I pair my biological prime time hack with another technique called the MIT or Most Important Thing. Every morning, you should be able to identify the three activities you really need to accomplish that day. Schedule those three activities to coincide with your prime time and you’ll be sure to knock them out of the park. This has really helped me design my days to maximize my productivity and eliminate procrastination due to low energy.
When you become an entrepreneurial financial planner, you need to be at your best every single day. Losing time and productivity due to procrastination or poor schedule management could mean the difference between success and mediocrity.
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