Tag Archives: Time Management

Need More Hours in a Day? Create Some!

Making More Hours, LiterallyYou’ve got 15 voice messages, 40 emails, your phone is ringing; the kids need breakfast and to get to school; the dog needs to be walked and you have a flat tire! At this point you’re ready to pull your hair out, and beginning to wonder if you have enough time in the day to get everything done, including tasks that were left over from the day before.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in life’s responsibilities and curve balls, which can kill your momentum and put your day in the trash can.

Thanks to Entrepreneur Magazine, we have some tips on how to make the most of your day:

  • Create a zero-tolerance list: Make a list of things you should stop doing—your distractions. For instance, checking Facebook between tasks, watching television while you work, or anything else that may keep you from getting your work completed.
  • The rule of thirds:  You should dedicate one-third of your day to prospecting for new buyers, one-third to executing business tasks and the remainder to supporting existing customers. Most people tend to focus on one or two of these areas and forget the other.
  • Five people to thank: Who are your top five customers? Or who were the last five people you conducted business with? Take the time to write each customer a note to check in and see how everything is going, find out if you can help them any further and thank them for their business. If you keep them on the top of your mind, they’ll return the favor.
  • 30 minutes of media: Take 30 minutes twice a week to shoot and post a short personal video message to prospective insurance buyers, about anything from current industry outlooks, why life insurance is important, educational information, etc. This can help drive customer perception of your company and potentially create new leads.
  • 10 replies a day: President Obama responds to 10 written letters every workday. It’s one of his rituals–and it’s just plain smart. Put the practice to work and commit to replying to at least that many e-mails, blog comments or tweets each day. This simple gesture improves loyalty.

Keep the Family Happy

When you work from home it’s easy to get pulled in different directions by family and friends.  Those folks often think that since you are at home you are not working.  They don’t even consider their intrusion to be an interruption in your important work schedule. The top producers at National Agents Alliance have learned to balance work and play to keep production levels high and family members happy.

One of the most effective tools the agents use is an Annual Activity Calendar.  At the beginning of the year the agent fills in every day off for the whole year.  All the days they will NOT work are marked off…weekends, holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, conventions, training sessions, family reunions, recreation – any day they plan to be away from the office.

Once you have established your “off” days you will be able to plan your work day schedule.  Agents are very good at carefully planning their work schedule…phone calls, appointments, paperwork and preparation.  Eliminating time wasters like emails, surfing the web and shuffling papers around the office, National Agents Alliance leaders make every day count, and then they have no problem enjoying all the days of free time they scheduled at the start of the year.  The only addition step in this process is to teach the family to work around the production days as scheduled on the Annual Activity Calendar.

When agents follow CEO Andy Albright’s 8 Steps to Success and get family members to honor the work/play calendar, everyone is happy!

Getting Started Right

At National Agents Alliance, everyone works hard to create a clear path for agents to run on.  It’s up to the new agent to follow the path that leads to massive success.

After licensing and contracting comes learning from your mentor exactly how top producers do the job.  Learning the products, learning the successful sales system, and practicing the scripts for appointment setting are definite first steps to success.

Ready, fire, aim!Watching and learning from your manager is important but you will also need to practice creating illustrations using the carrier software until you are confident that while in a client’s home, you can present options, overcome obstacles and successfully fill their needs.

You can’t learn to swim standing on the side of the pool, so it’s time to jump in and get your feet wet.  Without worrying about being perfect, the new agent needs to make some dials, set some appointments, sit with clients, protect that family and get paid!

Don’t be concerned if you make some mistakes; keep going and do it again and again.  As CEO Andy Albright says, “Once you have sold one policy, you know exactly what it takes to make as much money as you want, just keep doin’ it!”

Creating a work schedule for yourself can be a tremendous asset in getting started right also.

The most profitable agents use their time on the right activities and take time to plan their weekly, monthly and annual activities.

It doesn’t matter if you are a part-time or full-time agent, you MUST allocate definite hours of operation for your business. One of the biggest challenges of working independently from home is the lack of structure and time management.

You need to schedule adequate time to:

  • Participate in Corporate Training calls
  • Participate in Corporate Events
  • Participate in Team Training calls
  • Make your dials for Appointments
  • Study to expand your Product Knowledge
  • Work on Personal Development (Read, Listen)

The business system at National Agents Alliance is simple, but YOU have to do the activity.  Remember that there are no shortcuts to success.  Get leads, set appointments, sit with clients, submit applications and receive commissions from carriers.  Do it again. Follow the system!

Just Say No

National Agents Alliance believes that to be the most productive you can possibly be, you will have to develop the ability to say “no.”

Nuh uhThis little word is one of the most powerful in our vocabulary, and we can use it to set limits and hold firm on boundaries we mark.  Is it important to have a very short “yes” list and a very long “no” list.  If you prioritize your yes list and hold firm on your no list you will surely become more productive.

There are a lot of unimportant tasks that will slow down your progress toward your main goals, and a lot of people who demand your time and attention.  Many meetings are a waste of time and can be delegated, and more time can be saved by managing your internet time. By removing yourself from email lists, blogs, etc. that consume precious time you will get more done in less time, and the same goes for your favorite websites.  Be firm with yourself…no surfing the web!  Learn to say no!

Another great use of the word “no” has to do with your spending habits.  It’s easy to fritter away money in such little increments that you barely notice, but little by little those small increments add up to a significant total before you even know it.  Most agents never consider how the “latte factor” keeps them from investing a couple hundred dollars a month in their business because they don’t think the $5.00 for coffee at Starbucks is a big deal.  Add it up; you could really use that $2,000 to $3,000 a year spent on coffee and other seemingly insignificant purchases!  And then take a look at what you spend on food when you eat out instead of cooking at home, and packing a lunch.  By avoiding fast food places, you’ll not only save money, you will put the type of food in your body that will provide greater energy and will help you avoid the late afternoon blahs.

One of the most difficult times to say no happens as soon as you get home from running appointments.  Most people plop down on the couch and reach for the remote, while never calculating the massive amount of time spent there, taking in irrelevant and negative information.  Since our thoughts are so important, saying “no” to TV will create countless extra hours that can turn into huge performance gains, and instead, allow time for flooding your mind with thoughts of optimism and abundance rarely heard from the TV.

National Agents Alliance encourages your personal and business growth, and this ability is an important time management concept.  So consider the word “no” a tool of improvement.  Use it as a veto for any thought or activity that does not serve you.  If a thought or activity does not advance you forward toward your major objectives, just say NO!

Taking Your Time

In keeping with the time management theme of late, let’s talk a little bit about taking your time and the quality versus quantity debacle.  Certainly you don’t want to waste what is available to you, but cutting corners and rushing is not the way to maximize your time either.  For many, that may actually cause your time management plan to morph into a time consumption plan.

Taking Your TimeA common misconception of time management lies in the belief that for your plan to be realized you must be accomplishing more than others each day.  However, one of the underlying fundamentals of the concept is to work in a more organized and efficient fashion, ensuring that the time you spend generates quality as opposed to simple quantity.  Your plan could allow you to accomplish more per day, but it should simply allow you to work more economically.  It could allow you to burn rapidly through as many things as you can handle per day, but it should afford you all the time you need to provide superior quality results in whatever it is you are doing.  It could allow you to jam pack your schedule with numbers of items that would make your peers faint, but it should give you the visibility into your schedule to determine what needs to happen today, and what can be slated for tomorrow, or even next week.

This isn’t to say that you should not challenge yourself and strive for superior results.  You absolutely should, and National Agents Alliance certainly encourages that!  Just be sure to visualize your efforts in the proper manner, targeting how things should be and not allowing haste and urgency to be your motivators.  While they can provide you with potent determination, they are also causes of high percentage of error, no matter what it is that you are tackling.  Giving yourself the proper time to analyze and solve an issue at hand is what will allow you to build an enduring solution, whether it is in terms of a policy for a client, finding a quality recruit, or forming a business plan.  Doing so eliminates the need for task repetition, which can be a terrible time consumer.

Be aware that initially some things may not come naturally and things may seem slow, but the error prone nature that haste and urgency can cause would be counter-productive.  Allotting the time to work properly with high quality results will help develop exceptional business practices and also increase your knowledge and experience.  A more natural flow for things will come with that growth in your skills, and with that will also come speed.  The key here is that it will be with quality, not at the expense of it.

So be sure to direct your time management efforts correctly.  Allot your time for quality, not simply quantity.  Increase your knowledge by accessing information at NAAtv or through the carrier information pages at NAALeadsPresident’s Club will also provide you with access to extra information and resources if you are ready for that next step!

Time Management or Consumption?

Previously we touched briefly on a couple of the thousands of different time management items.  Today, let’s take a quick look at some of the common pitfalls of time management techniques that can twist and warp them into time consumption techniques.

Time Management PitfallsOne of the most common time management techniques is to list out your tasks.  Not only does this break down exactly what needs to be done in order to meet your goal, but it also helps keep track of the tasks involved so that they aren’t forgotten.  This is an item that can and should help you in organization and saving time, but has the potential to burn up as much, or even more time than it saves!  As with so many things, a balance is necessary.  Spending an exorbitant amount of time plotting out every detail and recording each tiny little event will rapidly take you down the path of this activity becoming a burden rather than an asset.  You will need to find that level of involvement where your tracking has enough detail to be productive and informative for you and your decisions, but not so exhaustive that it a) uses more time than it saves, or b) becomes a chore and drives you towards procrastination or other time wasters.

Another common time management boon is to consolidate all of your appointments and activities into one planner system.  Obviously this puts all needed information into one easy to reference place.  You will eliminate double bookings and other schedule duplications, eradicate the need for checking different sources, and abolish that flustered feeling of having to look all over the place just to get your day laid out properly.  All great benefits.  Then, suddenly the phone accidentally gets dropped into a puddle, or the computer gets a virus, or Jim over there spills his coffee all over your day planner.  Did you make a backup copy of your calendar and store it somewhere accessible?

It is an incredibly easy thing to overlook, especially with the reliability of software and computer systems today, but all it takes is one small accident to make that item unavailable to you for an indeterminate amount of time.  With Outlook or other digital calendar systems it is very quick and easy to make a backup, so use that capability and get a copy stored somewhere other than your primary access point (a flash drive, online service, etc).  With a pen and paper system it is a bit more effort, photocopy perhaps, but have a backup plan in place or should that little accident happen you will be up the proverbial creek without a paddle!

As touched upon previously, remember yourself as well.  Be sure to take the time to get the nourishment and rest that you need, both in body and mind.  Reading is always a great pursuit to keep your mind active, and here at National Agents Alliance we encourage you to dive into that endeavor frequently.  If you need some material, check out the shop and see if there is something that piques your interest.

Managing Your Time

Time ManagementOne of the potential pitfalls of any business is mismanagement of your time.  It can come in many different forms, but two of the most common are on opposite ends of the spectrum:  Procrastination and being overwhelmed.  Neither one is good for your business or your health!

Procrastination usually results from needing to do tasks that, for whatever reason, are not enjoyable.  In order to combat something like this, schedule yourself a couple of 10 minute blocks within the day to focus on doing those tasks.  By doing so, you may find that accomplish enough to push yourself a little further, and knock even more chips out of that tiresome chore.  An alternative is to attempt to find a way to make the tedious into something fun.  While this is a good idea as a long term solution, take care not to turn the activity into even further procrastination, or you will end up just digging a deeper hole for yourself!

Remember to also try and limit your distractions, especially when doing an activity that you are prone to putting off.  It’s easy to lose focus and convince yourself that you need a break, and it is certainly a good idea to take a break – when you need one!  When you need one, it will help revitalize and center you.  When it is simply an excuse not to do work, it will negatively reinforce the procrastination habit, and be a detriment to your overall goals.  If a dull task is also a time consuming one, break it up into smaller pieces and reward yourself for completing each objective.

Overwhelming tasks require some of the same approaches.  Certainly consider breaking them up into smaller, manageable pieces that will not be so daunting.  Limit your distractions so that you can focus and not need to repeat portions as that will only extend what is already something that is complicated to handle.

Be sure to consider the state of your body.  This is easy to forget, but when faced with what seems an overpowering obstacle, it is very easy to overextend and get worn down.  Remember to set aside time to properly rest and refuel your body.  These are essential components to your concentration and focus, not to mention overall well-being!  Don’t neglect these important factors.  A degradation of body and mind will be counterproductive to nearly all you are striving to achieve, so be sure to take care of both.

Should you find yourself unsure of exactly what it is that is absorbing your time, think about keeping a journal of your activities for a few days.  Review it and make note of areas where your time could be better spent, or areas that need focusing and utilize the resources National Agents Alliance provides to your advantage.

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