Tips to Increase Your Productivity and Regain Control of Your Time (and Possibly Your Sanity!)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 17:42
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Tips to Increase Your Productivity and Regain Control of Your Time (and Possibly Your Sanity!)

Tags: managing | productivity | time management

Have you felt like you have been working harder, often for an extended period of time, and feel like you aren’t reaping the benefits? Do you feel like your employees aren’t getting as much done as they can or should? Often, our productivity isn’t as high as it could or should be.

A recent study from the FPA Research and Practice Institute focused on helping advisors improve time management and productivity shed some light on both the causes and possible solutions. 

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The 2014 Time Management and Productivity Study found that 53 percent of advisors surveyed said they are not in control of their time and 49 percent say they are not in control of their businesses. Only 13 percent felt completely in control of their time and 10 percent felt completely in control of their businesses.

Advisors indicated three main reasons for this lack of control: trying to do too much, increased administrative burdens and procrastination. Difficulty prioritizing tasks, competing personal goals, personal disorganization, and in-bound calls from clients/time required to react following closely behind as additional reasons for having a lack of control.

Here is a summary of the main suggestions from the FPA study to help you and your staff feels more in control and improves your productivity.

  • Develop clearly defined business and personal goals: Take time to work ‘on’ the business.
  • Plan and Prioritize activities: What is the most important task you need to work on today. Set aside time to plan each day and week.
  • Develop standardized processes and systems: High performing advisory firms have documented and implemented standardized processes and systems to be able to scale efficiently.
  • Make better use of technology: We often don’t use anywhere near all of the features and functions of the software that we could.
  •  Provide better training and development for team members
  • Work with experts (coaches) to help improve your firm’s performance
  • Reduce administrative burdens: Delegate or outsource tasks to team members.
  • Don’t procrastinate: Don’t put off what you know needs to be done to move your firm ahead.

In an Inc. magazine article, 7 Things Highly Productive People Do, project management black belt Tony Wong, who has worked with companies such as Toyota, Honda, and Disney, was interviewed and offered these suggestions for being and staying productive:

  • Work backwards from goals to milestones to tasks
  • Stop multi-tasking
  • Be militant about eliminating distractions: Minimizing interruptions keeps us from stopping and starting our train of thought.
  • Schedule your email:  Checking your email constantly throughout the day kills your productivity.
  • Use the phone: If you need to respond to an email more than twice, pick up the phone and call instead of the back and forth emailing.
  • Work on your own agenda: Don’t let your day be dictated for you. Set and prioritize your goals for day and then work to reach these.
  • Work in 60 to 90 minute intervals: Your energy is better spent in shorter bursts.

A Harvard Business Review article, The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time, pointed out that between 25% and 50% of people report feeling overwhelmed or burned out at work. Why? Not only is the number of hours we are working increasing but, according to the article, “we spend too many continuous hours juggling too many things at the same time.”  Agreed! Think of how many things we juggle throughout each day, every day over and over. The result is a loss of productivity. Much of this is simply due to splitting our attention among numerous activities without being fully engaged in any one activity.  FOCUS your complete attention on one thing at a time.

Ever tell your kids to stop playing video games or stop checking Facebook or Twitter every two minutes (if that long) while they are doing homework? I have- too many times. It’s no wonder their homework takes waaayyyy too long and the comprehension level is low! Focus on one thing at a time. Don’t switch task focus so much.

The article encourages organizations seeking higher productivity and innovative thinking to strongly encourage defined periods of focus and shorter time periods for renewal (recharging).

Each of these (and many others) studies and articles offer helpful tips and suggestions for increasing your individual and organizations productivity. The lists above should provide some ways for you to implement to feel more in control resulting in additional productivity.

What do you do to increase your productivity?  Share your best ideas by commenting below.

Build your business wisely.

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