Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.Dan Richards

If vacations don’t boost productivity, then what does?

My recent article, “Is too much vacation bad for your business?” got a big response, partly stemming from my comments about the failure of extensive vacations to make you more productive. That said, my conversations with advisors have identified six changes to the way you work that can give you the productivity boost that many advisors seek.

Are you ready for the challenge of a lifetime?

The Kilimanjaro Climb for Amani

Last year, seven members of Canada’s financial community climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and experienced the challenge of a lifetime.

They did this to raise funds for Amani Children’s home in Tanzania; this four minute video describes their experience.

A follow up climb up Kilimanjaro will take place next August, for details and info on an upcoming information conference call, email .

In his book, Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, the late Steven Covey popularized the idea of “sharpening your saw.” Just as woodcutters need to periodically stop to sharpen their tools to prevent them from becoming dull with use, so you need to invest time sharpening your saw to maintain productivity. 

A central point in my previous article was that in and of itself, taking time off doesn’t sharpen your saw – chances are that you’ll be able to saw with more energy for some period of time after a break but the saw itself will be as dull as it was when you left. 

So how can you become more productive?

One route is to fundamentally restructure your business: Change the number and type of clients you serve and how you serve them, broaden or narrow the services you provide, alter your compensation model or rejig the quantity, quality and roles of the team that supports you.

All these can have substantial payoffs but also require a fundamental departure from the status quo and typically take time to see results.  For advisors not looking to make big strategic changes, here are six categories of saw-sharpening activities that can make you more effective within your existing business construct.

Sharpen your skills

One of my recent articles talked about how some advisors are held back by their voice – in meetings they talk in a monotone, too fast or too slow, too loud or too soft. I received an email from an advisor who five years ago joined Toastmasters and has seen a huge impact on his business as a result.  Another advisor took a six-week course on improv comedy to help improve his presence with clients. Both these programs were low cost and high impact.

Whether they involve speaking, time management, presentation training, effective writing or team leadership, there are all kinds of skills that are important to your productivity. One way to sharpen your saw is to pick one skill that you want to focus on and sign up for a course.