Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the little things that you have to get done for clients, prospective clients, team members, and friends?
Stephen Covey often referred to this as being in the “thick of thin things.”
This came up during a conversation with an advisor team last week. Even though we had clearly established what was important, each day was filled with “little” requests.
Each request by itself seemed small – five minutes here, fifteen minutes there. Every item was something that “won’t take long.”
But each “little” item, when taken in aggregate, sucked up all the time in the day.
As a result, the team’s productivity died the proverbial “death by 1,000 cuts.”
I imagine you’ve experienced similar things:
- The friend who wants to “pick your brain” regarding his portfolio
- The lower-tier client who would like to start a 529 plan for her granddaughter
- The colleague who wants to “touch base” and get your advice on a particular planning topic
The challenge is that these topics are important. That friend could turn out to be a client. The exception client should be served with excellence. You do want to be helpful to your colleague.
But on a relative basis, they are not as important as other activities (such as creating an outstanding experience for your ideal clients).
Covey recommended using “time blocking” (learn more) where you plan your day (or week) by scheduling time for the “big rocks” (the most important things). All the smaller items could then be worked on in-between the big rocks.
Reverse time-blocking is where you set aside time to work on the smaller but important items and you decide that is the only time that you will work on them.
For example, you could set aside two hours every other Friday morning where you make yourself available for “pro bono” type work. If someone wants to get your advice on something, schedule time in the next available slot.
Similarly, you could decide to work on non-time sensitive requests from lower-tier clients only on Wednesday afternoons. As long as you appropriately manage expectations with the client, you can wait to work on the item and keep your team’s time free to serve your bigger clients.
We all get the same amount of hours each week; it’s up to you to decide how best to use them.