5 tips for a more efficient workday
April 11, 2014
Are you reading this article to avoid doing something else?
For financial advisors, managing time can be as challenging as managing money. And arguably, just as important. If you “waste” just 30 minutes a day, you've surrendered at least 125 hours of production time a year, the equivalent of three weeks out of the office. Unfortunately, 30 minutes wasted each day is probably a low estimate for most people.
If it's any consolation, your competition in the industry probably is doing the same thing. Though you can't add more hours in the day, there are ways to be more efficient with the time you have.
Following are five tips for getting the most out of your workday:
Focus on one thing at a time
Rather than moving between projects — and needing to get the “engine” warmed up each time — try to stick with the same task or related tasks for longer stretches. Unless you're engaged in a project that requires frequent revisiting with “new eyes,” it's more efficient to work on a single endeavor until it's been completed.
Multitasking should be strictly verboten (or as much as possible). Planning out your day in blocks of time — while allowing some flexibility for the inevitable curveball — can be a great way to maintain your focus and stay on task.
Use a timer for “unloved” tasks
Even working in a profession that you love and enjoy will inevitably involve certain tasks you'd rather avoid. It's at those moments that the impulse to procrastinate can take hold. But if you create a self-imposed time limit for those less-than-savory chores, you'll be less likely to put them off.
Decide how much time you want to devote, and use a timer to keep track. For example, if you're willing to spend an hour on a given task, set the timer on your smartphone, place it on your desk, and don't get up until the marimba chimes. Then you're finished!
Log your day
If you consistently get less done than you'd planned and can't figure out why, consider keeping a log of your day. In fact, it's common for individuals to overestimate the time they've put into a project. However, don't let the record keeping get out of hand.
Maintaining a written record can itself become a time-consuming distraction, so commit to trying this for a week. Whatever is causing the time-management issues should become clear before long.
If you're seriously stumped about where all your time went, a timetracking program like Replicon or Toggl might help (both offer a free version or trial).
Break the e-mail addiction
A lot of people take a “put out the hottest fire” approach to their e-mail, answering only those that require immediate attention. Yet that allows the backlog to grow — and grow and grow — until the inbox contains unanswered and unopened e-mails from the Jurassic period.
Try setting aside a small amount of time each day to stay current on your digital communications.
Also, resolve not to reflexively check your inbox every chance you get. Schedule time to check in. And remember: Whatever's there will still be there in the morning.
Take restorative breaks
It's not realistic to expect people to work eight or more hours without a timeout, so the question is how “break time” should be used. Not that every second of every day has to employed productively, but taking a short walk or practicing meditation at your desk will almost certainly leave you in a healthier and clearer state of mind than, say, “cyberloafing.”
Of course, not all internet surfing is unproductive.
After all, you visited this site, right?
Did you find this helpful?
For more ideas on running an efficient practice, contact your Delaware Investments® regional director today.
This content is for informational purposes only and is not an endorsement of any service or publicly traded company. It is also not a recommendation to buy or sell a particular security.
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