When are you most efficient in the day? Figure it out -- and then organize your daily time management strategy with your own circadian rhythms in mind, an LPL training consultant told a session at LPL’s annual conference in San Diego this week.

“Identify your productive time,” said Tony Holman, addressing a room of about 50 people. “Understand when you have regular mental and physical changes that occur in the course of a day” -- and then cluster your high-priority activities at peak productivity times, he added.

Although much of your daily activity may be outside your control, he said, you can control much more of your schedule than you realize.

Holman offered advisors several other efficiency tactics. Among them:

  • Compose a to-do list the night before so that you know what the next day will hold.
  • Chunk out blocks of time -- maybe an hour to two hours at a time -- to answer phone calls and emails, according to when you will be most effective at completing them.
  • When possible, schedule regular meetings with staff members instead of leaving communications to spur-of-the-moment conversations. For some, schedule regular weekly meetings. For other staff members, set aside 15-minute blocks in the morning or afternoon. When they know they have reserved access to you, they won’t need to interrupt you at other times.
  • Prioritize your to-do list, using the same four categories popularized by the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: urgent and important, important and not urgent, urgent and not important, not urgent and not important. Holman suggested a free iOS app called Prioritize Me to help track tasks according to this classification.
  • When important items occur to you on the fly, call and leave yourself voicemails.
  • Hold yourself accountable for the items on your list. When you’ve completed a task, do something to allow yourself to experience a sense of accomplishment, whether by crossing it off a list or crumpling up a sticky note on which it was noted down.
  • Organize your environment to function efficiently.
  • Design goals using “SMART” criteria: Ensure they are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-sensitive.
  • Graduate from doer to delegator. “Give your staff something important so that they feel important,” Holman said. Many staff members may be quietly eager to take on tasks of greater consequence.

One final thought from Holman: Periodically check in with yourself to see if your system is working. Each person’s time management system should be thoroughly customized to his or her personal preferences and habits, Holman said.
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