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Plan Smart: Banishing Time Wasters

“I cannot make my days longer so I strive to make them better.” –Henry David Thoreau

Time wastersTime is money

We’ve heard the proverb many times. But when it comes to balancing client needs along with all of the nuances of leadership in a practice, time often really IS money. How many times have you looked at the clock and realized the day was half over before you’d had a chance to accomplish even a fraction of what you’d initially planned? A 2014 study found that only 13% of advisers report feeling in complete control of their time. Alarmingly, an overwhelming number of professionals frequently experience time drains that inhibit their relationships with clients, the growth of their business, and their own personal and professional productivity. Thankfully, there are some very easy-to-implement solutions that most CPAs can put into practice today to combat the time wasters in their daily schedule.

Find and eliminate your “tolerations”

What are tolerations? They are the irritations, large or minuscule, that slowly and often silently zap your energy, creativity, and productivity. They are the things you brush off as “no big deal” but add up until you begin to notice their collective weight. Tolerations can be an unorganized drawer, an appointment you’ve avoided making, a messy desk, etc. Write them all down, and you may see your list grow as large as 100 items. Next, schedule 15-30 minutes to chip away at them during your catch-up days. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel!

Create a proactive plan

Having a focused plan for approaching the day is also key. Dealing with repetitive issues that sap our time and energy can make a tremendous difference. For example, many tasks can be streamlined simply by using better tools such as email templates or productivity software that help consolidate the time spent on the business we do each day. The essence of this problem is our tendency to be reactive rather than proactive. Lacking a comprehensive daily, weekly, and even yearly schedule deprives us of an infrastructure by which we can gauge how productive we are being with our time. So how do we build that infrastructure?

Create S.Y.S.T.E.M.S. that anticipate and eliminate time drains

A big way we waste time is simply by not taking steps to proactively allocate the hours of our day to begin with. It’s essential to remove as many time wasters as possible from our daily routine. You can best do this by creating and maintaining S.Y.S.T.E.M.S. that help you “Save Yourself Stress, Time, Energy, Money, and Succeed.” The most important SYSTEM for banishing burnout is establishing a consistent executive schedule.

To save time each week, it may help to have a daily checklist to follow, which can provide a basic structure for the most logical and productive order of your business for the day. It’s likely you can do far more work in less time just by adhering to the parameters you set in advance.

For example: do you always check email first thing in the morning?  Failing to strategically plan the time you spend reading and responding to email can be a tremendous time waster, especially if it means less time spent growing your business and developing projects. If possible, wait until 10 or 11 a.m. to open your email. This ensures that your day is directed by your priorities, not someone else’s.

If there are ways to streamline email time, consider using templates that help automate email response turnaround, or using a customer relationship management (CRM) program, then use them. Implementing these tools up front will save you time every day.

The same goes for hiring additional staff. Everyday tasks associated with office management or basic client relations can take away from the time necessary to develop long-range growth and client service plans. Don’t hesitate to hire a good assistant. Again, investment up front will yield more gains moving forward. Just make sure that you also have good written processes for everything you expect assistants or employees to integrate into their work for you; failure to have clearly written guidelines will ultimately waste far more time than carefully writing out every expectation in advance. 

Make time to save time

The heart of this life-changing process is investing in an infrastructure on which you can build a business and save time for all of the other aspects of life.  Time IS money, but if you plan well, time well spent is also the key to being able to enjoy the things in life that money affords us—that’s a good lesson for all of us.

For more information on managing your time and schedule effectively, Coach Maria Marsala has recorded a 3-part webcast series available to Personal Financial Planning Section members.  Learn more about that series and other ways you can save time and increase your energy here.

Maria Marsala is a veteran financial executive, speaker, author of Strategically Acquiring More Clients, and founder of Elevating Your BusinessAs a consultative-coach, she guides seasoned financial advisors as they as they simplify business, advise more, and live better.  Connect with her today on Twitter.  To receive her twice-monthly business tips email and free business growth assessments, click here.

 Time wasters courtesy of Shutterstock

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