Typically, the first advice to increasing productivity is to utilize time management techniques; however, time management isn’t the only productivity increasing tactic available. While managing your time is ultimately a good idea, time management isn’t the epitome of productivity maximization. The management of effort is currently growing in popularity, and it might just be the greatest boon to productivity since the day planner. Effort management can be just as effective if not more effective than time management.
What is Effort Management
Effort management goes by different names depending on who is talking about it. Some call it self-discipline, others call it value over volume, some call it energy management. Whatever you call effort management, the basic idea is working to ensure that you are using the time you’ve allocated for tasks wisely. This practice may include doing things that go against management tips of the day. Some involve eschewing the cult of multitasking for single tasking; others include taking “me time” to ensure you or your employees are well-rested and better focused.
How Can Someone Manage Effort?
No single tactic will work for everyone. Some financial planners may find that delegation is the best effort management practice. Others may conclude that self-care is the paragon of effort management. While others may find task evaluation, momentum building, or sequencing are more apt for them and their employees’ style. The key to effectively managing your effort is to take the time to research and learn what works best for your corporate culture.
Delegating Your Effort
Everyone knows that old cliché about how there are only so many hours in a day. It’s a cliché because it’s true. No one is making more minutes in the hour, so maximizing your effort in every hour is important. However, the problem with many time management tactics is that instead of trying to maximize your effort, the tactics seek to optimize the use of your day.
There’s one problem with that though: small tasks that slowly eat away at your time. Small tasks are things like reading and responding to emails, evaluating which emails need responses, checking up on relevant news, and things of that nature. Delegating your effort solves that. There are two ‘people’ you can delegate your tasks to someone else and a robot.
Yes, a robot, or to be more accurate, the computer can show you what needs your immediate attention. Programs like Outlook, Google Mail, and things of that nature all have built-in functionality that can look through, flag, sort, and file incoming emails for key phrases, contacts, and more, without having to involve a single person.
Additionally, with the help of a moderately skilled computer programmer or a little investment of time for another application, you can automate all kinds of tasks that have mixed payoff for a lot of effort if done by you.
Letting someone else do it, is always another perfectly acceptable option. The great thing about having an intern or assistant address these high-effort-low-reward tasks is that they will tackle them for you and at the same time learn a lot about the nature of the financial services field.
Handling emails may not be glamorous, but it teaches an intern or assistant to learn what your business prioritizes. Learning about the firm’s priorities can impact how they spend their efforts on other tasks and inadvertently increase productivity without you having to do much training.
Self-Care Impacts Effort
There’s the old stereotype of those in the financial management industry working around the clock, when sick, and never taking time for themselves. While working around the clock will increase your productivity, multiple scientific studies have shown that neglecting your health and happiness can affect the quality of your work.
It may seem counterproductive to take off from work to rest for a simple cold but, the benefits of caring for yourself are twofold. For one, no one does their best quality work while sick and two, coming in sick puts everyone else at risk of being sick.
Everyone has a story about a time when they were sick and unable to concentrate made a huge mistake. Not to forget that every cold medicine on the market tells users not to drive while taking it and people still want to go to work and make crucial decisions while sick. Taking the off will allow you to be clear-headed and at peak performance.
Additionally, coming into the office while sick puts everyone else there at risk of getting sick. With all the technological advancements in place, if you need to do work while sick there should be a way to perform that work at home to avoid the dreaded office cold roulette.
Evaluate Tasks to Maximize Efforts
Another option for managing your effort is to spend time evaluating your duties. Evaluating your tasks is how you get yourself out of the multitasking versus single tasking conundrum. While researching has shown that multitasking rarely (if ever) ends in doing two or more tasks well at the same time, single tasking can be too slow for busy wealth managers like yourself.
So, what is the solution? Evaluating your tasks.
Taking a few minutes at the start of your day to evaluate the tasks on your agenda will help you prioritize the most valuable tasks and get those done first. It also allows you to see what tasks you can do passively while focusing on another task actively.
Some of your daily tasks won’t require your full attention. For example, if you need to read your emails and learn about a new industry sector, you might be able to do those at the same time. Reviewing emails would be the active task, and if you use a text-to-speech or audiobook option, you can learn about the new sector passively.
However, to understand what you can do actively and passively and what you need to single task you must evaluate first to maximize your effort. Evaluation is a great tactic to pair with building momentum and sequencing.
Building Momentum Builds Productivity
When you do the same or similar tasks one after another you build a momentum that allows you to complete tasks quicker. The brain thrives on repetitive tasks, its why the first few innings of the baseball game are the hardest for the teams; however, once they’ve built momentum that’s when the team starts producing high scores.
When you’re working, and you have tasks that are similar, try to group them. It might be boring to do the same task for multiple clients at the same time, but the amount of effort to get all those tasks done is less than if you performed them sporadically during the day.
Utilizing a chunking method gives your brain the repetition it needs not to have to reacclimate itself to the task. One example to this is when you are working on a task, and suddenly it’s lunch time. Often, you might pause that job and grab lunch, thinking you can get right back into it when you come back. However, you often end up having to readapt yourself to it, thereby increasing the time and effort needed to complete the task.
You won’t always be able to avoid distractions, but by chunking similar tasks together you can remove self-imposed distractions. Chunking the tasks allows you to get into a ‘groove’ and reach peak performance in that task before moving on to something else.
Manage Effort by Sequencing Tasks
After you’ve grouped your similar tasks, you’ll need to sequence them. To sequence your duties sensibly, you need to know which ones are dependent upon other tasks, the expected time commitment, and deadlines for each task.
Once you’ve evaluated the tasks for time, deadline, and dependencies, you can then sequence them to ensure that you complete the more labor and time intensive tasks first. This organizing method allows you to avoid burnout. It doesn’t always have you doing the most enjoyable and easy tasks first, but working from the most effort to the least required helps you to continue to keep your energy high as the day goes on.
Task sequencing uses the pain-pleasure mental reward principle to its benefit. While you might not want to start your day expending most of your energy and effort, it will allow you to avoid feelings of exhaustion at the end of the day. In fact, as the project or day continues you may feel more energetic because you will have accomplished large tasks at the start of the day. It also allows you to complete the tasks when you are less likely to encounter distractions.
While not every method will work for everyone, they are a good starting point for finding ways to manage your effort expenditure. Managing effort gives you a chance to think about what you and your employees excel at both individually and as a team. Effort management also allows you to do with effort what you do for your clients’ wealth and allow your time and effort to reach its maximum potential.