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It’s OK To Step Away: Strategic Time Management

There are two kinds of freedom in life: time and financial. Both are dependent on one another. Financial professionals can achieve autonomy, which is a fundamental component of success, through strategic time management. A healthy work-life balance can make all the difference when you work in a demanding industry. It can lead to enhanced productivity, higher revenue and greater personal satisfaction.

Streamline Your Time

On average, I take one to two weeks of vacation per month. The organizational skills I acquired from The Strategic Coach, Dan Sullivan, enable me to complete my responsibilities in a highly productive timeframe so that I can enjoy ample time away from the office.

If you struggle to manage priorities and want to enhance your efficiency, consider organizing your days into three categories. Your focus days should be your money-making days in which you actively meet with clients and enact their financial objectives. Buffer days are those that are not directly tied to profits, but involve necessary obligations such as meetings with lawyers, bankers, accountants and other professional partners. Your free days are then yours to spend as you wish. Color code your day planner to hold yourself accountable to the division you establish for your schedule. Over time, you’ll find your identified focus days will lead to extreme productivity and allow you to maximize your free days.

You can be successful and never take a day off, but I believe your potential has a cap if you do not make time for your personal life. Many in our industry are hesitant to take off work for extended periods of time, or even a few days. If you lead a “workaholic” lifestyle, be aware that this may lead to burnout. Even if workaholic individuals take a day off, they are often accessible by phone and are not completely disconnected.

Unplug And Refocus

Allow yourself to take time away from work to refocus. The energy you gain will help you approach your focus days more efficiently. When you do step away from the office, ensure you are truly disconnected. For extended breaks, you may feel obligated to check emails periodically to make sure all is well at the office. However, it’s also ideal to set aside a few days to leave your phone behind and unplug, knowing your colleagues are prepared to operate in your absence.

As I have taken more time off over the years, I have noticed an increase in profitability. Although there are many underlying factors for this, it’s important to note that you can achieve a work-life balance without sacrificing revenue.

Retirement Transition

Advisors who are early in their careers may not feel comfortable with extended time off, but I encourage advisors approaching retirement to take significant breaks to ease the transition. If you can see the benefit of time away from the office, you’ll be in a favorable position to pass your business to successors. Your free days will multiply and your focus days will be less frequent, but become even more important. Use this time to pass on your knowledge to make sure your clients and successors are comfortable with the changes.

At this point in my career, the majority of my focus days entail introductions between my current clients and those who bought the investment side of my practice. We prioritize joint meetings for our top 10 clients when I am in the office. While the full transition will take about three years, my successors can learn from me and start to implement their own unique strategies as they become the principal decision-makers.

Community Involvement

Community involvement stimulates your mind and puts your career into perspective. I pride myself on my volunteer work with organizations such as the MDRT Foundation, my local women’s shelter, Beautiful World Canada and more.

These experiences keep your mind sharp, connect you to people from different walks of life and help you recognize each person’s unique journey.

Translate this to your profession to understand the intricacies of plans based on your clients’ specific needs that are unlike one another.

Whole Person

MDRT’s Whole Person initiative is a great point of reference to help you shift to a positive work-life balance. The seven pillars that define the whole person are relationships, health, education, career, service, financial and spiritual. If you find any of these areas of your life are off balance, consider how you can make time to achieve equilibrium.

Evaluate the distribution of each of these areas across your free, buffer and focus days. Remind yourself that time away from work has direct benefits to your personal and professional life and will set you up for success as you progress in your career.

Judy Byle-Jones, CLU, ChFC, is a 35-year member of MDRT with four years qualifying for Court of the Table. She specializes in working with high-net-worth individuals in the areas of retirement and estate planning. Judy is the author of A Woman’s Road to Riches and is past president of the Canadian MDRT Foundation. Judy may be contacted at [email protected] [email protected].

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