Five Small Changes That Boost Productivity

August 4, 2015

by Dan Richards

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Every advisor would like to get more done in less time – and many look to moving to a paperless office and to other breakthroughs in technology in order to do just that. But a recent conversation with an advisor who has seen a dramatic increase in productivity in 2015 reminded me that to increase your productivity, it’s the small changes that matter.

Five small changes

This conversation was with a veteran advisor named Susan who, at the end of last year, felt stalled in terms of moving her business forward. As a result, at a November conference she sought out several successful advisors to talk about what they were doing and spent the Christmas holidays reading books and articles on what it takes to increase efficiency. As a result, she made five changes to her daily routine. While none of these changes taken on their own were earth shattering, cumulatively they’ve had a dramatic impact on her productivity and her mood when she goes into the office each morning.

Here were the changes that she made:

  1. Before leaving each day, she writes down the first three things to do the next morning.
  2. She checks emails and returns non-urgent phone calls every 90 minutes.
  3. Before calling clients or walking into meetings, she writes down the key goals for those calls and meetings.
  4. She divides her schedule into 90-minute time blocks.
  5. After each 90-minute time block, she takes a 20-minute break to walk outside.

Getting momentum to start your day

One of the ideas that helped Susan came from my article, The Hour That Drives Your Day. That article picked up on Do the Hard Things First, a book by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. In this book, Bloomberg argues that you should begin your day by tackling the most important and daunting tasks like calling a difficult client or having a tough conversation with a staff member. Bloomberg says such tasks have been allowed to drag out and now hang over you like a dark cloud, sucking up energy and enthusiasm. My article suggested that before leaving the office advisors should write down the two or three most important things they need to do the next morning, and when they arrive, nothing should be allowed to distract them from acting on those priorities.

Susan told me that she was skeptical at first but since she began doing this, she has been astonished at how good it feels to have those difficult conversations behind her. As a result, she feels energized and her motivation and enthusiasm level gets a boost that lasts through the morning.

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Five Small Changes That Boost Productivity