This is the second article in The Financial Advisor's Business Bootcamp--articles and tools designed to help you analyze, organize, and grow your business.
We kicked off a series last month, The Financial Advisor's Business Bootcamp, where we introduced the Business Assessment Worksheet. It is designed to provide a 50,000-foot appraisal of your business. We walked through the first section of the worksheet.
Today, we will examine the last two sections of the assessment. You can download The 7 Minute Life Business Assessment Worksheet here.
Time Management and Organizational Assessment
From what I've seen as a corporate consultant, there's a need for improvement when it comes to time management and daily productivity. A recent survey that we conducted found that 85% (147) of the respondents ranked their time management skills as average or below average, and only 15% of the respondents (25) believed their time management skills were above average.
Written Daily Plan of Action
Do you walk into the office with no idea of what you should do with your time? Time is currency. How you choose to spend the hours of your day becomes the reality of the life you live. Assess how you have spent your time today. Are you forced to react to unplanned or overdue tasks?
Imagine walking into your office each morning knowing how you will spend your time. Time management is the process of planning how you use the hours in your day to accomplish specific activities. Having written plan of action allows you to write down your highest value activities and create a schedule of when you will accomplish each specific task.
Repeatable Processes and Systems
Many activities are common to all financial advisors. The easiest way to create repeatable processes and systems is to create checklists for the tasks you complete on a regular basis.
For example, you can use a client meeting checklist to decrease the amount of time it takes you to prepare for each review, and you can create a checklist of the paperwork you need to open a new account and the sequence needed to improve efficiency. You can create a checklist of the actions you take to deliver a consistent client experience, or you can create a template for weekly staff meetings.
Having an organized office allows you to quickly find the files you need. It is hard to imagine how many hours are wasted each week looking for a misplaced piece of paper or file on your computer. By removing the clutter from your office and computer, you will be able to improve your concentration and increase your productivity.
Prioritize and Accomplish Unfinished Tasks
Unfinished tasks include everything still on your to-do list plus every file folder on your desk, every email in your inbox, and every unreturned phone call. You need a method to keep track of your unfinished tasks, prioritize the tasks that are most important, then schedule a time on your calendar to complete each task.
For example: A client is retiring in three months and you need to prepare for her 401(k) rollover. Her rollover is going to add $725,000 of assets under management. Her rollover now becomes an unfinished task. Learning how to prioritize each task and create a timeline for each step gives you the skill to move step by step through the predetermined sequence of the project.
Plan and Execute Tasks
Planning and executing complex tasks requires improving your personal project management skills. Project management includes: creating a list of individual projects that must be completed as part of the broader project, sequencing the order of the smaller projects, creating timelines and deadlines, and assigning roles and responsibilities.
Start and Finish Tasks
Project management can also be defined as attention management. Are you constantly starting new tasks only to be interrupted, and when the interruption ends, your attention has wandered and you forget what you’re working on? Productivity occurs when you are able to use your attention span to start and finish one task at a time.
The average human attention span is just 8 seconds, and adults are unable to sustain attention on one thing for more than 20 minutes. The 7 Minute Life is built on the precept that adults have short attention spans. I believe it is impossible to improve your attention span. So the only way to start and finish tasks effectively is to break down each task into what I call micro-actions. A micro-action is a task you can start and finish in less than 20 minutes.
Smart technology has removed the boundaries of work life and home life. We have trained ourselves and our co-workers that we are available 24/7. Has technology allowed you to improve your work/life balance--or has it led to work impinging too much on the rest of your life?
Time to Accomplish Tasks
Of course, you don’t have enough time to accomplish every unfinished task. Every activity that is placed in your calendar automatically knocks something else out of your life. Be vigilant about what you let other people add to your to-do list.
Life does not stop at the end of the work day--the third section of the Business Assessment Worksheet concentrates on personal areas of life that may seem outside the scope of your work, but I ask you to reflect on each opportunity to re-engage your daily life. Do you have a written purpose statement? Do you know what you value most in life, why you're willing to work so hard? Have you defined your priorities? Have you set personal goals? The bottom of this worksheet provides an opportunity to assess your personal development and your lifestyle habits.
Assessments provide a framework to learn more about yourself and your business. Assessments reveal areas of strength and skills that need improvement. Dive into the worksheet, and honestly rate yourself and your business on each item.
What did you discover about your business? What did you discover about your time management? What did you discover about yourself? What skills need to be improved? What actions will you take?
The challenges and gaps that you see in this assessment instantly highlight areas you can improve your knowledge, commitment, and success. Financial success in our industry is tied to three benchmarks: gross production revenues, net new households, and assets under management. To reach your benchmarks of success, you need to reassess your time management, organizational, and personal development aptitude.
Allyson Lewis served as a financial advisor for 30 years. She is the founder of The 7 Minute Life, a time management training company for people who are overwhelmed. Contact Allyson when you are looking for a time management speaker or trainer. Download her free report, The Top 3 Time Management Mistakes and How to Correct Them.