Archive for the ‘Personal improvement’ Category

Finding the Time to Get Things Done

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

If you have excellent time management skills, you’ve got it made. Any business owner will readily tell you that his/her biggest challenge isn’t finding customers or clients, or cleaning up when something gets messy. It’s taking the time that you have and making the most of it. You might have lots of money and the talent and skills to make much more. But if you don’t have a bag full of time management tricks, it will be tough to get things done.

Honing your time management skills is not a one–size–fits–all proposition. You must take the advice of those who have been successful and see if their methods work for you. Here are some words of wisdom gleaned from the experiences of financial advisers:

In the beginning

You know you have a limited amount of time to check off items on your to–do list. If you prioritize the tasks that lie before you, you can zip through them with time to spare.

Basically, everything boils down to the 80–20 rule. For example, for every 100 hours a manager spends on the job, 80 of those hours are really not that productive and 20 are on target. A company executive should not have to do the work that was assigned to other people. Answering employees’ questions and making sure that they were doing their jobs correctly takes lots of time that could be better spent working to please current clients and trying to acquire new clients.

If you are running a business, you must surround yourself with an experienced and resourceful staff. You should be able to delegate without hesitation. When you need to hire someone, don’t just rely on recommendations, resumes and an interview. Test potential employees to see how they handle spreadsheets and prepare Word documents. With the right team, you can accomplish more with just a few staff members who are highly qualified than you can with a huge pool of incompetent employees.

Your employees should share your sense of mission. If you set aside certain hours for client work, make sure your staff knows how important that part of your workday is and let them run interference for you when you get a call from your chatty cousin.

You should make a priority list for the next work day and check it twice. Don’t make the list too long and be sure it covers all that you want to accomplish. Always build in some time for what ifs. You don’t want to be so busy that you can’t squeeze in some verbal handholding to soothe a client who is having a bad day at the bank.

Tech tools can help you tweak your schedule

Many managers in the world of finance follow a system described in Getting Things Done, a book by David Allen. Under this system, you are supposed to examine all of the papers in your office and sort through them. Trash gets tossed and everything else gets a second look. Things that can be accomplished in less than two minutes are fast tracked. Anything requiring more time is categorized as a project and put on a list. Some of those projects can be delegated and some can simply be dismissed because they are really not important. Other items have reference value and should be easily accessible. At this point, it’s time to move the paperwork into the 21st century.

There are software programs and even new apps that can make your office leaner and more efficient. If you need to update your website, brochures or even how your company presents itself on social media, a system such as Redtail is a good starting point.

Personal productivity programs can also be a blessing. Apple aficionados have found Omnifocus to be great for making their iPhone, iPad and MacBook keep up to date on assorted matters. The fact that time waiting to see the dentist can be spent reviewing and answering important email frees up time in the office for other tasks. By integrating various systems and software, a lot more can get done in a lot less time.

Block out chunks of time

Unfortunately, many financial advisers and others in high stress positions have too much to do and not enough time to get everything done. The result can be burnout from working way too many hours each day and not taking any time off.

A smart solution is to come up with a calendar that blocks out appointment time a year in advance. Everything is planned out, and time is set aside to tackle each task. For example, the first hour of each business day can be spent preparing for meetings. The second hour can be for returning calls. If you have a client who wants to discuss some investments but works odd hours, schedule that phone appointment for when you know you’ll be available. One morning or afternoon at the end of each week can be devoted to preparing for the appointments scheduled for the following week.

Setting up a time management system takes some getting used to. But once everyone is on the same page, you can get a lot more done in a lot less time.

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