4 Steps to Be Passionately Productive

Many financial planners run their day-to-day activities around the fire they need to put out at any one particular moment. Their passion is focused on appeasing the most current client request, which is usually not a time-sensitive issue and thus an unproductive use of valuable time.

Henry David Thoreau said it best, “Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.

Have you ever taken the time to think about the level of success you could have if you spent your time being passionately productive, prioritizing efficient and effective activities?

If so, utilize the following steps to help guide you through that process.

Step No. 1: Prioritize Tasks and Interruptions

The first step is to prioritize tasks and interruptions into one of four categories—now, today, this week or whenever. This can be done by using a tool that I created for my coaching clients, The Time Matrix To-Do List.

Mike S., 20-year veteran financial planner client, couldn’t keep up with putting out the constant “fires” that his clients contacted him with each day. Unfortunately, he had lost his assistant a few weeks earlier and was feeling the full effect of juggling everything on his own. I had him fill out The Time Matrix To-Do List so we could organize his activities and client asks.

Step No. 2: Manage Time-Sensitive Items First

The second step is to tackle only the urgent (now) and important (today) activities.

Once Mike had his Time Matrix To-Do List tool filled out, I recommended that he manage the time-sensitive items—the urgent (now) ones—first. He began working on all of those tasks until they were completed. Next, he moved on to any important (today) items which needed to be addressed by the end of the day.

Step No. 3: Handle Weekly Deadlines

The third step is to schedule a time during the week to do anything that is tagged as this week, moving any items that need to be done by the end of the week into the important (today) category as the week wears on.

One of the most common mistakes financial planners make when they start to get caught up is to forget managing moving deadlines. Those tasks that were not urgent (now) or important (today) a few days ago—or when they originally surfaced—become last-minute items that now require attention as the week wears on. 

To avoid this, I suggested that Mike schedule 30 minutes at the end of each day to work on any items that needed to be accomplished by the end of the week so that a backup wasn’t created. He did this and found that it decreased the stress that procrastinating was generating for him.

Step No. 4: Take Care of Loose Ends

The fourth step is to parse out and time block for your whenever activities, so that they have a dedicated, assigned time and they don’t continue to get pushed down your calendar.

Mike took care of loose ends on Friday afternoons, which was his time to work on any ongoing projects or items that simply didn’t have a due date. That way he could go into the weekend with peace of mind that nothing slipped through the cracks.

Why Being Passionately Productive Works

By following this stepwise approach, you can view each task and interruption as merely an opportunity to check off your list based its true priority, and not as something you need to immediately react to. Being passionately productive works so well because it puts you in the driver’s seat; it’s that simple.

After a month of using this system, Mike not only felt more in control of his time and to-do list, but found himself more productive (and thus successful) than he could ever remember.

If being passionately productive is something you need guidance on, or if you would like our Time Matrix To-Do List complimentary, email me at dan@advisorsolutionsinc.com to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation.

Daniel C. Finley is the president and co-founder of Advisor Solutions, a business development, virtual consultant, and coaching service for financial advisers.