Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Readers,

Advisors are often confronted with a problem: “I have the desire but I just don’t have the time!” Time is in increasingly short supply. Even with the continued advancements made by technology, most advisors experience a sense of falling behind instead of getting ahead. For this week’s column I’ll share some of my best tips to get you out of the time rut.

Remember, time management is a fallacy – you can’t manage time; everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day. You can manage your choices – by focusing on personal management you will start to see a positive shift when you try one or more of these things.

  1. As a financial advisor, especially if you run the firm, you have multiple demands coming at you at all times. Depending on style, some people thrive on chaos and change, but many do not. The typical advisor behavioral style is more organized and logical – think “planner.” Because of this, make a list each and every day of the top three priorities you will focus on for the upcoming day. Why three? Because three is manageable. Three allows you to bring your attention back to what you need to do, even when new things are thrown at you and you might have trouble focusing. Pick three things you can prioritize and commit to get them done for that day. Other things will get done too but you will go home with the satisfaction that you accomplished at least three things that really mattered.
  2. Put yourself through a time-management study. This isn’t as cumbersome as you may think. For two weeks straight (more if vacation happens to come within these two weeks) record what you are doing in 15-minute increments. Don’t judge yourself, just write it down. Have one column for the day, one for the time and one for the action and leave a fourth column blank. At the end of the two weeks, in the fourth column mark: green, red and yellow for each activity. Green is one that was a priority and only you could complete, Red is definitely not a priority and someone else should have done it or it should not have been done at all, yellow is “don’t know.” Go through the list and circle all of the red things that could be removed from your plate. Take a few minutes to take stock of what you did focus on and consider whether it was the right amount of time on each thing. It sounds like more work but my clients who have done this tell me it is completely life changing to have the data.