Great question … the battle for efficiency is life-long pursuit. In fact, I have a quote taped to my computer that says, “Frank Sinatra didn’t move pianos,” which reminds me daily that I must prioritize my day with the work that positions me best to help my client or puts me one step closer to reaching a new one.
There are a few key strategies I employ to help ensure I am always working on the items that help me improve my practice, provide value for my clients, and support my business goals for the year.
Set crystal clear goals.
In order to prioritize, you need to live and breathe your business goals. Ask yourself: What are you trying to achieve? For example, “I want to sell 100 lives by the end of 2015.” If that is a reasonable goal for you, take the time to write down all the steps you need to accomplish to make that goal a reality. For example, maybe you need to make 10 calls a day to make that a reality. Put those calls on your daily to-do list and don’t deviate from your plan.
Make technology work for you.
I was a rather late adopter, but after hearing and witnessing the time efficiencies realized by my colleagues who were on board with the tools available, I jumped in and am thankful I did. I am conducting many of my client annual reviews via Skype/Lync which has freed me up to complete twice as many of them and I believe that has helped increase my sales. My office staff can complete applications electronically which has cut down on the amount of paper and underwriting cycle time for my clients and it has allowed me to be paid more quickly. All of these tools have helped free up more of my time to see more clients and prospects.
One of the mantras of industry-leading business coach Dan Sullivan is “you must get rid of the stuff” so that you can spend more time on such things as case preparation and meetings. Stuff is defined as tasks such as making copies, faxing, filling out applications, “light” client service (you still want to be the face to your customers), etc. Here’s how I have done this.
- I invested in hiring an assistant early in my career because I found that this partnership helped keep me in front of clients and out of doing functional paperwork and organizing, which was not my skillset. My assistant has been my partner, helping schedule my meetings and calls, and handling ancillary items that may come up such as a quick form change or appointment rescheduling.
- I understand everyone cannot hire an assistant and if that is your predicament, consider time blocking. Create a daily schedule that pertains to the back-office running of your business, 90 minutes a day for callbacks etc.
- Look for nearby colleges and universities who offer internship programs. This is a way to get help with daily tasks and give an opportunity to expose a young person to our industry and the benefits it provides.
Keep a to-do list: Make a to-do list and work it every day. Checking the box should be the last thing you do before leaving the office. The next morning jump right in and work on each item, completing as many of them as possible that day. This will keep you focused and help you avoid time-wasting tasks.