Time management. It’s a big word just like leadership, love and branding. Similar to all these other words most of us have never been taught time management and, better yet, for most of us in insurance we don’t have a driving desire to really take it seriously. You may be thinking that you do, but do you really? In this blog we are going to tackle the true meaning of time management. We recommend you pass this blog around to all of your friends in the insurance space because it’s going to tackle a lot of the misconceptions based around time.
What Is Time Management?
I’m not going to pull up some fancy definition because I know what it is, what it can do for you and how to get there. I also know I only practice it well some of the time.
Time management is the discipline to triage your work to be the most efficient and effective every single day by combining focus, productivity and prioritization to best serve your clients and team.
My favorite word in that entire definition is DISCIPLINE. I can’t count the times we have put quiet time in place, time blocking, reconstructed work only to find people go back to old habits that are comfortable yet nowhere near productive. To really master time management you have to be disciplined.
Imagine this – you work in an ER and it’s a busy day. Are you able to say that you just didn’t get to a particular patient? When you don’t tackle your to do’s you miss the opportunity to serve a patient/client. If you really think back on today were you both efficient and effective?
Here’s How I Know
It has often been commented that I am excellent at efficiency. That’s because I have a lot to do, as do you! What I have learned is that most people struggle with time management not just at work. Take a moment and think about home. Would you say you are killing it there and don’t feel overwhelmed at the amount of things you need to accomplish? If you say you are cool as a cucumber at home, we need to get you some help because for most of us life is a time management trap. Be honest, it’s not usually better in your personal life than your professional life.
As many of you know I travel extensively. In order to serve my clients, my team, my companies, my husband, my home and my 15 year old dog I have to be great at managing my time. It’s taken me a while but there are just some rules I stick to:
- I get up ridiculously early. This is my time to be half asleep and do things around the house. I shuffle off to the gym because it makes me feel 1000000% better and I get it out the way!
- I do this so I don’t feel rushed in the morning. Feeling rushed so early in the day sets my day off badly.
- I know what my to do list is today, tomorrow and the next day and I know it will change. Just like all of you, I understand curve balls and I know how to fit them in.
- Anything that gets me upset throughout the day I try to I capture it to take it down. I solve the problem but then I strategize on how I could fix this speed bump so it doesn’t happen again. Notice, I don’t let it bother me, and I don’t ignore it. I fix it and then really fix it.
- Because I get up at 3:45 am I know that between 2-3 I’m going to crash so I plan to use this time for the lighter tasks to let me brain get it’s second wind.
- My email box is always under 10 emails, my tasks are current and I proactively communicate to my team and clients when I’m falling a bit behind to clearly reset expectations.
- When I’m home at night I don’t open my computer. If it can’t be done by the iPhone, it can wait.
But here is what I really know. When I’m behind I HATE that feeling. I can’t stand letting people down, and feeling out of control. What I know is being behind will happen but we just need a plan to get back on track because we can’t live in that environment.
When you are perpetually behind, you will start using it as an excuse….
- When you forget to do something… I’m so busy
- When you make a mistake… I’m so busy
- When you cut corners… I’m so busy
- When you don’t adopt new technology to streamline your work…I’m so busy
- When you feel drained…. Work’s so busy
The problem with busy is this – it doesn’t solve the problem.
Not even a little. Busy is wearing a winter coat in the summer and saying it’s hot. You’re right! It is so, what’s the solution???
The Way It’s Always Been
For many of us in the insurance space we don’t get out much. I don’t mean that in a bad way but we mingle mostly with our co-workers. So we don’t see how other agencies are doing it. I have seen agencies still on paper files, been to places that reject E-Signature and dual monitors and still print it, to scan it, to shred it, to attach it!
The way it’s always been has gotten us to feel consistently overwhelmed. Don’t you want to change that? If you don’t, then keep wearing that winter coat in the summer. It’s a great look!
Creating A Culture of Productivity
When someone says they are too busy and I see them stroll in 5 minutes late and spend 10 minutes getting coffee and chatting, that’s not too busy. That’s saying what you want me to focus on is simply not my priority. In other words, a big old middle finger.
Cultures of productivity really work like a team. If someone is getting slammed then we all pitch in. What’s scary is when someone get’s sick and you have to sit at their desk to find:
- Clients that aren’t updated in the management system
- Notes that you cant read on notepads
- Hundreds of emails in someone’s in box
- Suspenses that are burning people
- A paper filled desk
I just described my worst nightmare!
In productive agencies everything from email to desks are nice and neat. Do you think you can do it? Follow us for tips on how to tackle time management.