From the April 2013 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

Your Optimum Day

Time is a precious asset; invest it well.

To create an optimum day, I guess we better define one. An optimum day is one in which: (1) Target number of contacts with clients and prospects has been achieved. (2) Distractions are minimized. (3) Necessary research and writing is complete.  (4) Notes from calls and meetings are entered in computer or sent to computer operator, who will enter them. (5) Coordination with team is maintained.

Let’s back it up a step. How do you get from first walking into the office, to having a day that looks like that? (1) Plan is made. (2) Plan is executed. (3) Plan is reviewed.

Boils down to planning, doesn’t it? Let’s back it up yet another step. What are the tools you need? I can do it with three: (1) Business Plan. This sets the direction and priorities. (2) Model Day Worksheet. Here is where the business plan happens—one day, one hour at a time. (3) Daily/Weekly Stats Worksheet. By keeping track of what you are doing, you can get bigger picture. Review is that pause that answers the question, “Are we there yet?”

I have posted samples at www.billgood.com/modelday. There you will also find a link to “The FA Business Plan.” That was my article last month.

The Blueprint

By way of reminder, your Model Day consists of time blocks I call “mini-days.” Only a single type of activity is performed in a mini-day, which should be anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours. The Model Day is a planning framework in which to organize a fire hose of data and activity that comes at you every day.

Your mini-days must include: Daily planning. Weekly planning. Lead generation (this can be calling clients, cold calling, cold walking, seminar preparation and delivery—any activity that causes someone to respond for the first time). Lead development (following up on leads that have been generated but are not yet willing to set an appointment; this would be a phone mini-day).

Don’t forget: Meetings (these can be in person or by phone). Research and writing. Contact administration. Email. Breaks. Lunch.

You can also have mini-days for: Promotional writing. Staff training. Staff meeting. YouTube video preparation. Financial planning. Continuing education. Any other activity type vital to the success of your business.

As your business life changes, your mini-days will change. Perhaps you have been spending two hours every Friday afternoon training your team. Your team is now trained. Do something else.

Critical Mini-Days

In my mind, the two most important mini-days are daily planning and weekly planning. If you are intensely calling, be sure to add a third: break.

A word about breaks: Back in my cold calling days, I noticed that my first hour was normally the best. My theory was that I was fresh then. So I began to experiment with ways to create a second “first hour,” third “first hour,” and so on.

I finally settled on: Call for 50 minutes. Then take a 10 minute break. Get up. Walk around. Go outside. Back on the phone for 50 minutes.

Daily planning can be 15 minutes. It can be two hours. I review what happened yesterday, what should happen today, make sure any promises made are noted in my CRM, consult my weekly plan and drop those activities I can accomplish today into the mini-day where they will occur today.

Daily planning is where your strategic plan comes down to earth and gets done.

Without a Model Day that includes daily and weekly planning, your day is most likely a reactive smear rather than a proactive progression, accomplishing step by step the most important tasks of your weekly plan.

Daily planning helps create focus.

If you are focused, you don’t react to every little email that floats in. The text message from one of your children can be put off until a scheduled break. The VM from your spouse can be … well, you better handle that one right away.

My Model Day for Saturday is one mini-day—weekly planning. I spend close to two hours studying my strategic plan and deciding what I can get done next week. Why does it take so long? Because as I write this, I have 162 tasks on my strategic plan. I review them each week, and as conditions change, I rewrite, re-prioritize, add and delete. The primary benefit of weekly planning: focus.

Use Checklists

A checklist is a series of tasks performed in sequence to accomplish a desired end result.

It can be simple as my “Get Ready” checklist below, or as complex as a pre-flight checklist for a 747.

As an aside, the more checklists you can deploy in your business (and in life) the better you will get at cracking through routine tasks, and the simpler life and business will become.

Two of the checklists I use are my “Get Ready” and “Daily Planning” checklists. As life changes, these change. But they are part of what I do to give my day a focus.

Other mini-days can, and should, have their own checklists.

My Get Ready checklist: Open Daily Planning Checklist. Load Gorilla (my company’s) calendar. Load Outlook. Load Dragon Naturally Speaking software. Cell phone available for Copytalk notes. (Copytalk is a service I have recommended for years. It’s mostly how to document my calls and meetings.)

My Daily Planning checklist: Study Gorilla calendar. Decide on when to get some personal time. (Too often, personal time disappeared. I need some time just for me every day.) Review meetings from yesterday. Complete any admin. As necessary, add tasks to strategic plan. Assign tasks to assistant and others. Study client and prospects records of today’s meetings. Email assistant if any changes, or request additional data if required. Study weekly plan. Choose tasks to complete today.

Stats Worksheets

The most important activity of a sales business is contact. Sales are a numbers game. You need to track quantity of activity. It’s fine if you have two one-hour call mini-days. It’s not fine if you make seven calls.

Shoot for these numbers: When cold calling, make at least 60 dials an hour. This should produce 2-3 prospects per hour. Make at least 20 calls per hour when calling prospects. Talk to 4-5 prospects per hour. Set at least one appointment an hour. 

Meet with 15 people per week, some clients, some prospects.

This is a lot of moving parts to keep track of. So you need some help. Use two worksheets: Daily Stats Worksheet. This is where you record your activity each day. Weekly Stats Worksheet. At the end of each day, copy your totals from the Daily Stats Worksheet over to the Weekly. At the end of the week, you add everything up.

Look at your activity level. In your weekly planning, compare it to the optimum numbers I gave you. Based on your activity level, adjust your mini-days. Do you need more time to call clients? Increase the mini-day. Distracted by incoming calls? Work with your assistant to better screen calls.

That’s how you do it: Your strategic plan, Model Day and stats work together to create an optimum day.

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: http://bit.ly/billgoodspeaker.

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