Working Smart v. Working Hard: Your Most Important Resolution for 2011

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Dan Richards

Of the countless resolutions advisors can make in 2011, there’s one that could have the highest payoff – to work smarter, by building regular “thinking time” into your business.

We’ve all become incredibly busy with more demanding clients in an always-on world of email and Blackberrys.  As a result, most advisors are working hard but they aren’t necessarily working smart. And the only way to ensure you’re working smart is to consistently step back and take time to think hard about your business.

Quarterly thinking time

This process starts by having written goals in place for the next three to five years and a written plan of action for the year ahead on how you’re going to achieve those goals. That written 12-month plan is a good starting point, but that’s all it is unless you schedule regular time into your routine to review, update and modify that plan.

This should happen at four levels – quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily.

For your quarterly thinking time, you should sit down for half a day with your team or two or three other advisors that you respect and trust.

And in that half a day, ask yourself a number of key questions:

What were my goals for the last quarter and how did I do against those goals?

What worked in the last quarter, what didn’t and what can I learn from the last quarter?  In other words, what I am I going to do differently in the next three months based on what happened in the last three months?

And finally, what are my goals for the next quarter?