It’s easy to find yourself in a panic situation with all the pressures you face each day as a financial advisor – managing a team, a practice, a household – and your client portfolios. But over the years, advisors have shared with me their sure-fire practice de-stressors. See if any of these could help you out!
1) Set boundaries around your time. You want to please people, but you need to be realistic about your commitments. One advisor in Iowa set up his schedule to ensure he had adequate time to prepare for each client meeting – booking extra time ahead of each meeting. (For a sample ideal day plan, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.) Another advisor made it clear to clients that appointments had to be scheduled in advance – no more unscheduled walk-ins. Both of these approaches ensured that work actually got done – and stress was minimized. If you’re not time-blocking – or if you’re constantly battling interruptions – get a better grip on your day!
2) Be picky with new clients. You can never please clients who are a poor fit for your business. It’s better to screen them out before they become a problem. If you see red flags in your initial interview with a potential client, pay close attention. Make sure that your potential client has realistic expectations, and will not be the type to constantly second guess you or complain. These types of clients are the ones you dread hearing from each day – and they ramp up your blood pressure. As many advisors have discovered: It’s better to lose a potential client than to waste your efforts pursuing new clients or retaining existing clients who aren’t likely to be satisfied with your work.
3) Stick to your personal routines. You can’t help anyone else if you’re emotionally drained. When things are tough at the office, spend extra time taking care of yourself and nurturing your family relationships and friendships. Don’t get overly exhausted. Maintain your schedule of adequate rest, healthy eating and rejuvenating exercise. A recent news article suggested that a 15-minute walk per day can add years to our lives because it reduces stress. Take your weekends off to allow for mental relaxation and family bonding. Vacations should be real vacations – leave your tablet behind! Don’t subject yourself to burn out!
4) Plan each day. Spending at least 20 minutes per day planning can reduce your stress, when you combine that with goal setting. Many advisors like to plan the next day before they leave work each day. This gives them concrete goalposts every working day. And remember, what you measure is more likely to get done. When you take the time to plan, you begin to focus on your highest priority activities and relationships. You may have a lot of B and C clients who are taking up a lot of your time. By actively planning to spend your time more effectively, you’ll gain control over your practice, and your life. Moreover, you’ll gauge your opportunities with an eye toward time. At the end of the day … time is money.
5) De-clutter. We’re not at our best when we’re disorganized. Whether it’s a junky email inbox, or a messy desk slowing us down – clutter can erode our productivity and increase our stress. Spend at least 10-15 minutes daily in de-clutter mode: shred what needs to be shredded, file what needs to be filed – and start each day with a clean work space. For help with email, you might try Sanebox. It automatically filters out newsletters that you can read later in a separate folder – and gets rid of junk mail – leaving a manageable inbox.
No one item is the magic de-stressor but you can combine a few of these to help your days go more smoothly. Meanwhile, deep breaths! And try a sanity walk.