We all have 24 hours in each day, and making the most of these hours is challenging. For example, I wrote this article three days before its due date even though I was given about five weeks to do it. But somehow, my “time management skills” failed me. I am now asking myself: “What happened?” Well, this is what happened.
On Oct. 5, 2018, my daughter Kyra was born. My wife Katherine and I are new parents (this is the second time for me). Katherine also runs the operations for my office, and now she is on maternity leave. My client appointments have been compressed into a three-day schedule, with some scheduled for the occasional Saturday morning. In the middle of all of this, I’m closing more business and working out more — and I attended an industry meeting in Boston this past week.
So how do I make time for everything? I do so by using the following methods:
» Time-blocking. Every hour of the day is accounted for. Once you are clear about what is important, you begin to block out the time needed to perform those tasks. Then everything else falls into place.
My time-blocking starts at 5 a.m. and, at times, can end as late as 8 p.m. The important thing is to review your calendar on a monthly, weekly and daily basis to stay ahead. Don’t get me wrong. People run late, clients cancel at the last minute and I oversleep at times, especially now that we have a newborn.
In order to stay ahead, I also time-block weekly. In general, I keep all my non-revenue-producing meetings or calls for Monday and Friday afternoons. Monday morning is my “prep” time and time for my staff meeting. This is when we review the past week and make plans for the coming week.
On Friday or Saturday morning, I may have the occasional appointment, but this time is spent mostly on personal development. This entails studying technical aspects of our profession, speaking to my accountability partner or watching training videos.
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are devoted to hardcore “green time” activities. This is when we hold back-to-back meetings with clients. It’s not uncommon for us to hold 18-21 meetings during a 72-hour period.
Weekends are dedicated to personal/family time. Somewhere in all of this, my workouts are already scheduled. Time-blocking serves as the map of the day and of the week, with the goal of keeping everyone on course.
» Technology. In today’s digital world, the resources to manage your time are at your fingertips. We use a calendar system in which I have customized the hours that I can meet with clients, the times I will have non-revenue-producing calls and the times I will conduct virtual meetings.
When someone needs to schedule time with me, or I need to schedule time with them, they will receive a link in an email that allows them access to my availability for the next 12 weeks. This prevents us from going back and forth. Now that my wife is on maternity leave, this function of her job has been somewhat automated.
» Managing email effectively. Someone once said to me, “Emailing is on everyone else’s to-do list.” So take control of it before you find yourself checking email messages constantly. I use an “away message” during my green time. It says: “Barjes is in all day client meetings/calls from XX/XX to XX/XX. If your email requires immediate attention, please contact (here, I list my staff and their contact information).”
This lets people know that I am somewhat unreachable. Doing this gives you permission to not be on your email all the time. If the sender’s message is urgent, they will email or call your staff. Full disclosure: If a window of time becomes available, remember that clients do cancel. So I do peek at my emails from time to time.
» Leveraging staff. All of us have been asked this question: Why do a task that you can pay someone $12 an hour to do when you are worth $250 an hour? Hiring staff will create more time for you. We have a staff of three, and their duties are clearly defined.
We invested some resources in working with a practice management consultant to be clear about this so that everyone knows what they are accountable for. We use communication tools to stay within reach but, at the same time, my staff knows that when I’m in a client meeting, I cannot be disturbed.
We also leverage partners for investment portfolio design, advanced planning presentations, and generating opportunity lists. I notice that some agents, especially the new ones, try to do it all. It’s tough when you are out there alone. A lot of institutions are happy to provide you with resources, some paid and others unpaid, to tackle these activities while you are doing the one thing you are supposed to do — see the people.
It is important that we get the sleep and the exercise we need and also eat the right foods. Taking care of your health will provide you with the energy you need to run at high speed. Remember that we are all human and life does not always go according to our predesigned calendars. Just stay focused on helping your clients address their concerns and help them achieve their goals.