BY ADDIE MURDOCK
Unlike many other careers, being a financial advisor is not a 9 to 5 job. And while we often have flexibility with our hours, it’s no secret that the work we do can be all-consuming and overwhelming. So how do we strike a healthy balance between meeting client demands and exceling professionally, as well as devoting time to family and prioritizing self-care? The answer: intentional time management. Though there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for time management, there are several small tactics you can implement into your daily life to help you achieve a sustainable work-life balance.
SMALL CHANGES CAN LEAD TO BIG RESULTS
Often, we feel we must make huge life changes to see results but that isn’t the case. When looking to revise our current habits, it’s important to make small, manageable ones that are realistic. In fact, one of my recent Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) book club reads, “Atomic Habits” by James Clear, helped me realize just that. The following are some of my best tips, learned from both other advisors and time management books, that have personally helped me accomplish a better work-life balance:
- Create a to-do list for the next day. It’s so easy to get pulled in a million different directions when you don’t have a set list of priorities. I’ve gotten into the habit of creating a to-do list the night before, so I can come into work with a clear vision of what my day will look like.
- Time block your calendar. Dedicating portions of your day to a specific task and physically blocking that time on your calendar can be a powerful time management tool. For example, I will block 20 minutes in the morning to only answer emails. For those 20 minutes, I eliminate any distractions and devote my undivided attention to clearing my inbox. Additionally, I often use “layered” time blocking, where I block time on my calendar for a task that I know I can pair with another task. For instance, I will often schedule a phone call with a client while I’m driving from one meeting to another to maximize my time. Time blocking does not have to be reserved solely for work. I like to time block for any family functions or personal appointments and color code them accordingly. By doing this, I can see how heavily I am leaning in one direction, either work or family, and reprioritize as needed.
- Set device limitations. We are all guilty of scrollingthrough Instagram or checking Facebook when we have work to do, so setting limitations on your apps can provide much needed structure to your day. Whether you want to set a time limit or restrict the hours you engage with an app, you can go into your phone’s settings and set your personalized restrictions. As my mother always says, “It’s not either/or it’s AND.” Therefore, I don’t believe in removing things that bring you joy, such as games or social media, but rather enjoying them appropriately and in moderation.
BEATING THE BURNOUT
Because of the nature of our work, it’s all too common to face burnout. This is especially true during year-end, where most people are winding down and spending more time with family but is typically the busiest time for us. With the pressure of meeting quotas and impending deadlines, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance. During this time, it’s especially important to check-in with ourselves and recalibrate. When I do this, I can usually see clearly which aspect of my life is being neglected and refocus my energy.
I like to ask myself the question: What can I do right now to be a better me? Whether that’s carving out 15 minutes for a yoga practice or reprioritizing my tasks at work, it’s so important to take the time to look inward even during our busiest times.
Lastly, while the topic of work-life balance is often discussed as two separate entities, I find I am happiest when all my identities are at play. Letting your identities crossover, versus keeping them apart, is a great way to strike a balance between work and family. Whenever possible, I welcome my kids into my work and involve them with what I’m doing. I’m often surprised at how interested they are, and it makes me feel good that I can engage them with that area of my life. It’s important to remember that our clients trust us not just because of our credentials, but because of our authenticity. I often remind myself of the Whole Person Concept, an initiative laid out by MDRT, that supports advisors in their quest to live a well-balanced life. By nurturing other areas outside of work, such as our relationships, health and spirituality, we can bring our best and whole selves to work.
ADDIE MURDOCK is a nine-year, Top of the Table MDRT member and a principal with The Burgess Group (TBG). Her primary focus is international markets, primarily Latin America and Asia, and she has been with the firm since 2002. Murdock currently resides in San Diego, Calif., with her husband, two kids and dog, Muchacho.