5 tips for increasing productivity in 2018

January 17, 2018 by Katelyn Rattray

Two advisors prepare for a productive year at their firm.

About the author

Katelyn Rattray

Senior content marketing specialist

With a background in content marketing, public relations, and social media management in a variety of industries, Katelyn strives to deliver high-quality educational content to advisors in the financial services industry and empower them with tools to boost their marketing efforts through content marketing and technology.

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For many professionals, there never seem to be enough hours in the workday. These tips will help you optimize your time in the office and experience a successful 2018. By leveraging these tips and tools, financial professionals can increase efficiency and, in turn, increase client satisfaction and business growth.

1. Take care of yourself first by managing your diet and sleep cycle.

This may sound like a lifestyle change rather than a productive habit, but the relationship between the two is hard to miss. Here a few simple things you can do to regulate your eating and sleeping schedule:

  • Eat breakfast. Eating in the morning tells your body that you are awake, active, and that you are preparing to get things done.
  • Limit your caffeine intake. Treat yourself with a cup or two in the morning, but do not overdo it. Elevating your heart rate will only lead you to become more easily distracted.
  • Do not eat a large lunch. A big, carb-filled lunch can lead to lethargy and the temptation of having more coffee, which can affect your sleep at night.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. If you are not getting enough sleep, you are setting yourself up to fall into unproductive work habits. The right amount of sleep will not only allow you to be more alert but also empower you to wake up a little earlier.

2. Focus on the tasks that truly matter to your success.

Productive people know when to let go of tasks that do directly affect their success. As you create your to-do list for the day, week, month, or year, ask yourself this question before adding any task — “Will the completion of this task grow my business, benefit my clients, or develop my skill set?” Once you have gotten rid of the tasks that do not truly matter, prioritize all the ones you have left.

It is also important that you document the tasks you must complete. If you are keeping track of your to-do list in your head, you are likely forgetting things or inappropriately prioritizing tasks that may only seem important in the moment.

3. Refine your email etiquette.

In order to reach peak productivity, you must eliminate distractions. When it comes to time in the office — or working remote — email is often one of the biggest distractions, causing professionals to multi-task and quickly lose focus on the task at hand.

The McKinsey Global Institute recently found that the average employees spends 28 percent of their workweek reading and responding to emails, equating to approximately 650 hours per year allocated to low-value work. Additionally, SaneBox found that only 38 percent of the average employee’s inbox contains important, relevant information.

This means many professionals are spending far too much time dealing with unimportant emails. As you work through your prioritized to-do list, set aside specific times on your calendar to read and respond to emails, and turn off email during the rest of the day to focus on the tasks you have deemed as important to your success.

4. Listen to your mind and body while working.

Another characteristic of highly productive people is knowing when to take breaks and listen to your mind/body. There is no person that can be 100 percent productive all day, but it can be easy to spend your day saying, “I will take a break after I do this. Well, actually let me do these other five things before I take a break.” Then, it is suddenly 5:00 PM and you have worked nearly non-stop for eight or more hours.

DeskTime research found that the most productive people engaged in job-related tasks for 52 minutes then take a 17-minute break. Taking 15- to 20-minute breaks is long enough for your brain to relax but not long enough for you to completely lose focus and momentum. If necessary, schedule these periodic breaks on your calendar to ensure you allow your mind to rest.

In addition to scheduling breaks, ensure you are listening to your body throughout the day. If you need to go to the bathroom, do not force yourself to finish a task before leaving your desk. If you are hungry, have a quick, healthy snack before moving on with your work. When people feel uncomfortable at their desk, their thoughts will focus more on that feeling rather than the task they are completing. Therefore, listen to your body and eliminate these internal distractions as well.

5. Utilize the technology available to you.

Financial professionals are always seeking ways to make their workflows more efficient; therefore, it is imperative for firms and advisors to leverage technology to automate tasks. Though holistic financial planning and constant communication sound like huge time investments, technology can automate your communication and data gathering while you focus on what is important — delivering quality financial advice and building deeper client relationships.

Firms and advisors can save time by allowing the NaviPlan® calculation engine with decades of experience to do the heavy lifting, giving the advisor more time to spend with clients discussing plans of action to reach client goals. More time that is spent on client relationships means that more time is spent on making your business successful, rather than focusing on tedious, non-essential tasks.

Consistent communication is another aspect of client-advisor relationships that is often time-consuming and difficult to prioritize for financial professionals. The client portal is another FinTech resource for automating the communication process and giving your clients constant access to their plan information.

The key to saving time, money, and mental anguish in your business is by utilizing technology to automate as many workflows as possible, enabling you to focus on growing your business and providing your clients more high-quality service.

To learn more about selecting the best technology for your firm to help improve your productivity, click here.