When Busy Becomes a Barrier
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You’re sitting at your desk eating your lunch, checking your email, finalizing your quarterly market analysis, texting your mom about her doctor’s appointment, solving a math problem with your daughter, and listening to a webinar on the impact of the new tax laws.
Busy, Busy, Busy. You throw around the b-word as if it's a badge of honor.
News flash: According to Verywell Mind, being busy and multitasking causes you to lose up to 40% of your productivity. And you thought you were being efficient!
You think you're great at multitasking because you do it everywhere all the time. How else would you get things done? How many tasks or projects can you juggle at one time? How many people can you give attention to at the same time? Multitasking has become an epidemic and it’s not good for you or your practice.
It’s a massive barrier to accomplishing what you want in your day.
My financial advisor clients try to tell me that they are extremely productive because they can multitask. However, they fail to realize that they are paying a big mental price. Being busy does not equate to being effective or productive. In fact, everything becomes a distraction because the brain has been trained to jump from one thing to another constantly. There is no priority on what you jump to next.
You can accomplish more by doing less.
In an article posted on Psychology Today, Susan Weinschenk shared some research that proves we can’t do two things at once and do them well. Look at how well people can walk on the street and text on their cell phones (not to mention driving)! We just don’t like to admit it.
How do you stop being busy and constantly multitasking? Imagine if you could gain back 40% of your productivity! Do I have your attention? This alone should be enough motivation to try a few new things.
Here are five tips from Weinschenk’s research that productivity experts, including me, agree with and encourage:
- Practice the 80/20 rule. Focus on the 20% of your tasks that really are effective and do them one at a time. I help my clients to determine which tasks they need to do themselves and what can be delegated. Often, as much as 80% can be delegated.
- Practice “batch processing.” This process works for processing email, checking voicemail, returning phone calls, etc. Pick a time of day (or a couple of times) for when you will take care of these tasks and don’t allow yourself to go there until that time. This might require you to train your team and even your clients to know when you will be addressing these tasks to minimize distractions. My client, Joe, could never get caught up on email and follow up and didn't realize how disruptive they were until he scheduled them. His to-do list quickly dwindled and for the first time, he felt in control of his day.
- Work on your most important task first. Once those more important things are done, you can move on to other less important ones. If you work on the tasks that you like first, you’re not alone. My client, Denise, believed that no matter how important, if she couldn’t get it all done at one time, she would continue to put it off. I helped her accept that making progress was better than avoiding the task and this enabled her to consider the important tasks first.
- Use concentrated times. Block out a chunk of time to complete one task. Turn off all distractions. Close your door if needed and focus your attention. Many of my clients find that when they schedule tasks directly into their calendar, the task gets done. Check out my article that highlighted the ideal week exercise in blocking out your time.
- Leave blank space in your calendar to rest your brain. You will get more done if you allow your brain to rest and integrate information. Perhaps a lunchtime walk outside is the perfect remedy for your brain. As I discussed in a previous article, many financial advisors are struggling with overwhelm. Self-care is necessary to enable you to perform at your best. Remember, there’s a reason why you put your own oxygen mask on first!
Which of these tips can you adopt into your day and begin doing to regain some productivity? Initiate a conversation with your team about how they can manage things while you’re engaged in your “focus” time. Another advisor, or one of your COIs, could work on these behaviors with you. Find someone to hold you accountable and start crushing your busy barrier.
Patty Kreamer, CPO® helps overwhelmed financial advisors take control of their brain clutter, calendar, to-do list, inbox, interruptions and anything blocking productivity. She is a productivity coach, speaker, Certified Professional Organizer®, author of four books and partner at Productivity Uncorked, LLC, a coaching firm that specializes in helping financial advisors take control of their practice and uncork their referrals. Email Patty at [email protected] or connect with her on LinkedIn.