How to Plan–and Live–Your Model Workday

It's time to look at how important your time is and try some key time-management strategies to improve your practice

In the coming year or years, I believe the shift to fee-based management will be complete. As countless hundreds of thousands of advisors who now rely on commissions are forced to join their fee-based brethren, the classic downward pressure on fees that you can charge will continue.

It's Economics 101.

That means that in order to combat the hated income reduction plan, you have to manage more clients, more assets, accomplish more, and do it all in less time: Time management of course is key.

With this as a context, I want to share with you a program I have discovered and use nearly every day. It helps keep me focused. It helps prevent things falling through the cracks. And it enhances my productivity.

Very importantly, it completely aligns with all of the work I have done over the years in developing a “model day.”  If you even have a glimpse of how important your own time is, you will want to take a look at the resources I have compiled for you at our time management page. You can check it out here.  You will immediately see how the program I am now recommending will help you build a better model day.

The program is Swift To-Do List 7.  I'm not sure how I stumbled on it, but I'm coming to rely on it more every day.

I use it to manage my nonclient activities.

Before I give you some of the features I use, let's talk for a moment about what kind of information goes into your customer-relationship management, or CRM, software and what goes in your task manager.

The Role of Your CRM

Every action, every note, every thought about your clients and prospects should be entered into your CRM. This is vital to your survival as a business entity. Remember, it only takes one bad apple to spoil your lovely barrel. Your best defense is meticulously capturing and recording in your CRM all data regarding your clients. I have railed on this constantly. Enough for now.

The Role of Your Task Manager

But what about all of the nonclient tasks you have to do to run your business?  You have to plan your seminars and events, maintain your community involvement and networking, and on and on. How do you keep track of all these tasks?

All of these countless “to dos” need to be entered in a task manager. Once you have written them down, you can then prioritize and decide what to do today.

A vital part of a model day is a time block I called simply "Plan your day." Part of this is preparing for any client appointments, and issuing instructions to your team to set up more phone calls and appointments. But there are those tasks that deal with running your business that do not relate to any single client. That's what needs to go in your task manager.

Here's the rule: If it involves a client, it goes in your CRM.

If it is a business or personal task not related to a client, it goes in your task manager.

Too Much to Do

Frankly, that has been a struggle for me. I have tried online task managers such as "Remember the Milk" or “Toodledo.” But for whatever reason, I could record the countless tasks that make up a good part of my business life, but I was unable to manage them well with these, and countless other solutions I have tried.

In one case, I wound up with a list of over 300 things I needed to do. Managing the list was taking so long, I finally abandoned that system and started over with some other system.

Striking a Balance

Swift To-Do list strikes a good balance between primitive and too complex.

And it offers a critical feature that is helping me learn to better estimate how long certain tasks take.

I can right-click the task and start a timer running. As I do my daily planning, I estimate how long various tasks will take. Then when I am completed with a task, I note how long it took. The more I do this, the better I'm getting at forecasting how long the vital tasks I need to do will actually take.

Another thing I like is that I can easily sort tasks by the kind of activity they are. This is critical for building and maintaining a "Model Day.” 

Managing the Model Day

One way to enhance your productivity is to group similar actions together in their own time block.

This morning I am looking at my plan for today—I generally work at home until about 10 a.m. I have three writing projects, five e-mails that require more than just a little bit of time, three personal tasks I need to accomplish, and I have two of what I call "admin" actions left over from yesterday.

I can easily sort by priority. I can filter by due date. And very importantly, I can see my time estimates, as well as actual time spent. Little by little I am getting better.

Consider this blog you are reading now.

My initial estimate was 30 minutes. (Another productivity tool I use is Dragon Naturally Speaking. So instead of merely typing, I dictate to screen. Much faster.)

So how was my time estimate?

As of right now, I'm at 40 minutes. I'm just wrapping up the first draft. I will immediately proofread and make some additional changes.

My new estimate is 50 minutes.

Final result: 50 minutes.

*****

Bill Good is chairman of Bill Good Marketing. His Gorilla CRM® System helps advisors double their production or work half as much; visit www.billgood.com. His seminar program, “No More Pies! ®,” helps advisors manage ETF portfolios using technical analysis; see www.nomorepies.net. And his blog, financialadvisorsmarketing.net, has lots of useful information for advisors who need to beef up marketing. To preview Bill as a speaker, see his YouTube channel here: bit.ly/billgoodspeaker.

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