As a financial advisor, your to-do list is never-ending. From prospecting for new clients to managing the mountain of administrative tasks, advisors work long hours even before they start financial planning. In a 2014 survey, many financial advisors said they work more than 40 hours a week, with 88% saying they regularly work past business hours at least one evening a week.
But late nights at the office aren’t the best way to get everything done. If you want to achieve more in less time, you need to make the most of every minute. With these productivity tips, you’ll finish most of your important tasks early, so you can go home and enjoy your evening.
Tip #1: Start with Strategy
To organize your tasks, start by organizing your day. This means scheduling time first thing every morning to identify the most important tasks of the day. Prioritizing is key here. Look at the tasks that will do most to move the needle on your big-picture goals, and schedule them for the hours when you’re most alert and productive (which for most people is first thing in the morning).
Tip #2: Don’t Multitask
When you have fifty things to get done today, it’s tempting to try to do them all at once. But that will only result in finishing none of them. Instead, focus on your most important task, and break it into smaller chunks. Use the big-picture priorities you’ve identified, and if possible, do the most important task first. Take regular, brief breaks, and keep working on small pieces of the most important project till it’s done.
Tip #3: Tame the Email Beast
As a financial advisor, your most important job is client relationships. This can make you feel like you’re required to respond instantly to every email. But every time you switch tasks, your mind needs time to refocus. That refocusing time is essentially wasted, as it’s spent neither on leisure nor on productive tasks. This can take up to 23 minutes every time you’re interrupted, so that “quick 15-minute reply” could use up a lot more time than you realize. Instead of responding immediately to every email, schedule blocks of time to handle everything that’s landed in your inbox. Twice a day is more than sufficient to ensure timely communication with your clients.
Tip #4: Organize Your Space
Are the dirty coffee mugs and stack of mail piled on your desk impacting your productivity? You might be surprised how much more you’ll get done when you’re not distracted by clutter. A disorganized work space make it hard to focus. When you clear your space, you might find it much easier to clear your to-do list.
And while you’re thinking about your physical space, consider whether a change in location could make you more efficient. Since most of your financial service work can be done online or by phone, you could have the option of working remotely from home. Generally, people who work remotely are both happier and more productive, and they save extra hours by skipping the commute.
Tip #5: Take Breaks
When your task list feels overwhelming, you might feel driven to stay at your desk till a project is done. But just as longer hours don’t increase productivity, nonstop focus doesn’t either. In fact, taking leisure breaks throughout the work day increases productivity, as do vacations. So break big projects into small chunks, and as you finish each smaller task, reward yourself with a stretch and a coffee break (and maybe even browse a few memes on Facebook). You’ll get more done – and your day will be a lot more enjoyable.
In a high-intensity industry that rewards long hours and hustle, it can be hard to make time for strategic organizing or mental breaks. But nonstop work won’t help you get more done. Instead, the most efficient financial advisors use productivity tips like these to set clear strategy goals and organize tasks so they can easily achieve more.