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Saying Goodbye to Stacks of Paper and Distractions

A daily journal will save you time, reduce stress and make you more productive.

Several months ago, I visited the office of a million dollar producer. I was shocked to find that although he was in charge of an extremely successful practice, his office looked like it had been hit by a tornado. His desk was covered with client statements, yellow note pads, phone messages, post it notes, and two calendar books. In fact, every flat surface in his office was covered with stacks of paper and files.

He loved activity, but couldn't keep track of his commitments and information because he was drowning in paper. Happily, I offered him a solution to his problem.

Handing him a wire bound notebook, I said, "From now on, this is your daily journal. Each day, I want you to record all the commitments you make, your client discussions, ideas, meeting notes, and names and phone numbers. Anything you write down during the day that's not on a form will go into this book."

I explained to him that he should start a new page every day, date it and use it for all his notes. The following day he'd start a new page, allowing him to keep all his notes and lists in one place in chronological order.

"No more notes on the back of business cards or phone messages," I told him. "No more legal pads or scraps of paper. No more floating paper ? period!"

A few weeks later, this successful advisor told me that my suggestion made a huge difference in his daily productivity. He said he felt more in control, less frustrated trying to find important information, and less distracted now that there was no longer paper cluttering his desk. He asked me for more ideas that would bring "sanity" to his day. He said there's just never enough time in the day to get everything done. I told him that he just identified his problem ? he thinks he should do everything.

The solution to fitting 12 hours of work into an 8 or 10-hour day is not working harder, or faster, or starting earlier and ending later. I told him that he could do almost anything in his day but not everything. Thousands of advisors face this same challenge. Are you one of them?

A Game Plan Will Save Your Day

Like a professional athlete you need a game plan, otherwise you'll lose your day to distractions and urgencies; you'll run from one activity to another, always busy, always in motion. Starting your day without a game plan puts the other team in control and you play their game as the events in your day pull you helplessly along. You'll be busy, but not productive; motion without direction won't win the game. It's not about "doing things right", it's about "doing the right things right."

Here are a few simple steps to take to win your game everyday.

? Begin a list each day of important tasks not completed from the day before.

? Add tasks to this list that are driven by the commitments you made to others that you recorded in your journal on the previous day.

? Add any tasks that will prepare you for meetings and appointments for the day and a few days ahead.

? As a last step, prioritize this list designating the "must do today" items with the letter A, the "should do's" with the letter B, and the "could do's" with a C.

In less than 15 minutes you'll have your game plan done. Now run the winning plays first, the ones with the letter A.

A Game Plan is a Critical Success Factor

You're in the business of delivering service and advice. To inspire loyalty and trust in your clients you must keep your commitments to them. This means staying on top of the commitments you make everyday. Just 15 minutes a day of building your game plan for the day will put you in charge and give you control. Legendary football coach Bear Bryant said, "It's not the will to win that counts as much as the will to prepare to win." Win each day by preparing a game plan to win each day.

If you would like to receive an in-depth tutorial on the daily Game Plan process, send me an email with the subject line "Game Plan".

Bob Lodie is a speaker, business strategy coach and consultant to financial advisors. He is author of Three Steps to Million Dollar Production and Personal Success from the Inside Out. He can be reached or direct at 310-552-6064

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