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Time Management Without Technology

5 ways to improve your daily productivity.

Allyson Lewis, 11/22/2012

Time management is one of the most important skills for financial advisors to master. Over the last decade, we have looked to technology such as computers, email, and smartphones with the expectation that they will solve many of our time-crunching dilemmas. Unfortunately, many people have found that some technology has actually become a problem rather than a solution. In this article I will offer five ways to improve your time management without technology.

1. Put Your Mobile Phone in Another Room
If you could turn on a video recorder and monitor how many times you pick up your personal mobile phone to answer calls, to send an email, or to respond to an incoming text message, you would likely be shocked at how many minutes or even hours you are wasting every day.

Each time you feel your mobile phone vibrate, you are instantly distracted from the project you were working on. Research has shown that it can take up to 20 minutes to re-engage your full attention.

Solution: Put your mobile phone in another room and create a reasonable schedule to take breaks and check for important messages.

2. Schedule Friday Morning as a "No Telephone/No Interruption" Time
A big problem for financial advisors is that they don't schedule adequate time to catch up on their weekly administrative paperwork and compliance issues. As a time strategist and a financial advisor, I understand that much of the work we do is reactive to the daily market fluctuations, economic changes, and global political news to ensure we deliver great on-the-spot, immediate, and impeccable service to our clients.

However, as each day progresses into the week, the amount of paperwork that accumulates can become overwhelming. These unfinished tasks drain you of energy and can keep you from taking your practice to the next level.

Solution: Turn your office phone to "Do Not Disturb." Turn off your email notification. Place a note on your door that from 8:00 a.m. through noon, you cannot be interrupted.

3. Try Out a "Technology Free" Client Appointment
At your next series of face-to-face client appointments, what would happen if you had no slides, no performance reports, and no numbers? How different would it be if you could sit down and have a conversation as if you were meeting a friend for coffee? What would you talk about if you could choose to intentionally listen to their concerns about their financial future?

Solution: Ask your clients to meet you for coffee. Listen to what they are reading in the paper and hearing on the news. Ask them what they are feeling about the current markets. Ask them what their friends are talking about and thinking about. And most importantly, re-qualify what they would most like for you to help them with regarding their financial strategies. Ask them about their expectations. Ask them if their risk tolerance has changed and if they want you to re-evaluate their portfolios, and, if needed, be ready to recalibrate based on the information you discuss.

4. Clean Out the Clutter
Effective time management is not about doing more things faster--it is about doing the right things better.

Clutter and disorganization are big problems in corporate America. Wasting time looking for client files or having to re-create full projects because you can't locate them are merely symptoms of a deeper problem.

Solution: Make improving your organizational techniques a priority. As one of my friends shared with me, take 10 minutes when you first sit down at your desk to organize anything that must be done first; then also schedule 10 minutes at the end of your day to reduce the clutter.

5. Planning with a Pen and a Single Piece of Paper
Studies on how long the average adult can focus their attention have varied from as short as two seconds to as long as 20 minutes when they are actively working on a project that captures their full imagination and attention. My company, Seven Minutes, is a time-strategy company based on the concept that human attention is very limited. As a teaching principle, we share the belief that the average corporate executive has difficulty even concentrating his or her attention for "7 Minutes" at a time.

Solution: Once you fully understand how fragile the adult attention span is, you can more quickly understand the need to find powerful tools that are designed to help you focus your attention. With those tools, when your attention wanders, you can work to get back on track as quickly as possible.

As you learn to increase your ability to focus, you may find that the best time-management tool is to first take the appropriate time to clarify exactly what you need to accomplish:

--First, take time every day to think about what you need to do.

--Next, download the 7 Minute Life Daily Progress Report. (This is a single sheet of paper for writing the exact tasks you want to focus your attention on accomplishing.)

--Finally, narrow your list down to the five things you will commit to completing before 11 o'clock the next morning. We call this creating your 5 before 11™ list--it has proven to be one of the most powerful time strategies that we teach.

For free access to more than 22 of our time strategies, please subscribe to our Member Tools.

Available in paperback on Jan. 01, 2013: The 7 Minute Solution: Time Strategies to Prioritize, Organize & Simplify Your Life at Work & at Home. You can pre-order your copy on Amazon.

Time strategy expert and best-selling author Allyson Lewis has spent the last 29 years developing and teaching concrete, actionable business ideas all over the country. In her latest book, The 7 Minute Solution, she shares strategies to help you Prioritize, Organize and Simplify® your life for greater meaning and productivity. Take advantage of the worksheets, webinars, and more--subscribe to the FREE Member Tools area of our website http://www.The7MinuteLife.com and follow her on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/AllysonLewis.SevenMinutes and Twitter: @allyson7minutes
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