Get on top of chaos, distraction, disorganization, interruption, procrastination, clutter, and avoidance.
Stress is a natural physical response to internal or external events that cause you to feel a sense of immediate threat to your well-being. Humans seek balance and order in life, and the demands of today's business and the state of the economy can create a seemingly endless combination of obstacles piling up at the same time.
Chaos, distraction, disorganization, interruption, procrastination, clutter, and avoidance are seven of the obstacles that many financial advisors are faced with every day that add to or induce stress. Recognizing each of these issues and deciding how you will face them can help reduce the amount of stress in your daily work life.
1. Chaos--a state of utter confusion and turmoil
Chaos is the most serious problem, because it causes many of its victims to stand frozen. With chaos, there is so much disorder and such a lack of confidence that indecision sweeps over you, allowing the cycle of chaos to continue.
Chaos can be physical or mental, but the only way out of living in turmoil is to take one step at time. Choose to change a single habit or routine. For example, I find it hard to start working if I feel like I have too much to do. Just by making a list of what I want to accomplish, I immediately feel better because I know I am spending my time effectively. Start each day (or do it the day before) by making a list of the five most important things for you to accomplish before lunch. We call this a "5 before 11 list®." That way you know where your focus should be, and each time you wonder what you should be doing, you can refer to your list. If you can accomplish your five most important things by 11 a.m., you have the second part of your day to handle other things that come up.
2. Distraction--mental distress that prevents concentration
Focus and laser-like concentration are key elements to a financial advisor's success. Hundreds of activities might seem appropriate or important, but there are two especially high-value activities that you must never be distracted away from accomplishing: meeting with your clients face-to-face and talking to your clients over the phone.
To do a good job, we must remove the distractions and focus on our clients. The fact is, distractions pull at us because they are usually more pleasurable than what we are currently doing. Distractions are all around us but can easily be avoided if we so choose. For example, every time I receive a text message, I feel like I must look at it immediately. Obviously someone needs to tell me something that is timely and important, right? Not often. The problem is, I sometimes find it more fun to read a text message than do my job. By turning off my text message notifications during the time I am trying to focus, I am avoiding that distraction and increasing my productivity.
3. Disorganization--the absence of order or systems
Much of what financial advisors do every day is a repetition of an action we take regularly. By creating routines and putting a series of steps in place, we can remove the disorganization. For example, when you have a new prospect, there should be a system in place for developing that relationship. There are routine steps that are taken that help you move forward. By systematizing the process, you make it easier to repeat over and over.
4. Interruption--to stop or cease action in the middle of something
Any office setting is full of interruptions. Ringing phones, talkative co-workers, clients that drop by, noisy repairmen working in the hall, and email notifications are all constant interruptions. To truly be productive, we have to be able to tune everything out and focus on what is most important. For example, block off time in your day to talk to your clients. Let everyone know that you are not to be interrupted. Turn off your ringer and email notifications and post a sign on your door. You can return calls later but by having complete focus on what you need to do at any given time, you can get more done.