2017’s time management tips for insurance producers

Please note: Arrowhead will be closing at 2 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 30 and will be closed on Monday, Jan. 2. Our offices will reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 3.

On one end of the spectrum, there are those who don’t believe in setting New Year’s goals, preferring to take life as it comes. On the other end, there’s that group of overachievers who not only set goals but check themselves against them every month and cross of the completed ones. Right. Those are the same folks who’ll retire before they’re 50.

The rest of us are somewhere in the middle: we know we need to improve, but don’t really take the time to pinpoint our strengths and weaknesses and formulate a plan for personal growth. This pre-New Year’s post is aimed at this group, providing a few time management tips that will propel you further towards success than you may otherwise wander. So we’re wishing you good luck and great prosperity in 2017 with these suggestions of what to do and what NOT to do. 

Time management DO’s for insurance producers 

1. Prioritize your day. Every evening, before you head for home, take a look at what important tasks or projects you weren’t able to complete, and prioritize them for tomorrow. Don’t try to overachieve here: keep your list to about three must-do’s, followed by three to five more should-do’s. In fact, keep a recurring calendar reminder notifying you to do this daily.

2. Know yourself. What are you high energy times and your low energy times? As a morning person, your peak time is early in the day; a night owls’ peak time is after lunch. With that in mind, schedule your more intense and complicated work to be done during your peak hours – that time where you feel the most focused and clear-headed. Conversely, leave the lower priority/easier work for your low energy times.

3. Pace yourself. Few of us can focus on the same task at a high concentration level for more than a couple of hours. That’s why it’s important to schedule in a break after 2-3 hours with a walk or even a task that requires a lower focus, like checking emails.  It’s best to alternate between periods of intense focus and low concentration throughout the day, to help you maintain your energy. Speaking of emails,

4. Don’t check emails when you’re “in the zone.” During those high-concentration times, don’t let anything interrupt. Shut your door. Send your calls straight to voicemail. And don’t check emails or social media. Stay focused. We’ll talk more about multi-tasking under the DON’Ts.

5. Just do it. Find yourself repeatedly putting off a project with a looming deadline? Get it done first. The sense of accomplishment (and relief that it’s finally over!) will be a boost in your day.

Related: Insurance agent productivity hacks: How to squeeze 10 hours into 8

6. Use the free tools you have. Make good use of your calendar, to schedule in quiet time for those tough tasks; share your calendar when needed; share docs via Google Drive or Dropbox, quickly create a to-do list after leaving a client’s office and share ideas using Evernote…. All are designed to help you make quick work of your work – so use them!

7. Go for a walk. "Exercise is the best brain-boosting substance known to man," said Lynette Gil in a recent PropertyCasualty360 article. She added, "Your brain loves endorphins, which tend to bring clarity to your work. So make time to walk for at least 30 minutes daily. It could be during a mid-morning break, your lunch hour, or a quick afternoon exercise break with your dog." 

Time management DON’Ts for insurance producers

8. Multi-tasking slows you down. We used to brag about how we could juggle multiple projects at once. Now experts tell us that’s a dumb thing to do, because we lose focus switching between tasks. "You can only give sharp attention to one thing at a time because the brain has to engage," said Jeff Davidson, an author and work-life balance expert explained in a Dice article. "If you’re besieged by competing tasks and interests, go from completion to completion. Or set a timer and devote 20-minute stretches of time to each task."

Related: How to use the last week of your year wisely

9. FOMO saps your energy. FOMO (fear of missing out) is what causes us to check email, texts, social media dozens – even hundreds – of times a day. While not strictly a Millennial phenomenon, experts say they have the hardest time putting down their phones. So our advice? Only check your updates when you swing into a low-energy time. Like we said in #4, stay clear when you’re "in the zone."

There you have it: our best advice for starting the New Year off right. We’ll commit to it if you will! What other tips do you have for your co-producers?