If you’re a certified financial planner that needs tips for better focus but living in a world full of distractions, concentration may seem out of reach. Isn’t multi-tasking the new productivity hack? Get more done at once, get more done, right?
Oh, that couldn’t be more wrong.
Not only has Forbes reported on this, but study after study has revealed multi-tasking is our demise. But what is causing us to lose focus, and how can we master our minds to achieve our goals?
Not all tips for better focus will work for every certified financial planner. After all, a vegetarian diet may help one person thrive while another explodes with energy after their lunchtime chicken and rice. Just like our diets, our levels of alertness and tactics for better focus are highly individualistic. There’s no right way or wrong way, just the way that works for you.
Let’s dive into why certified financial planners are losing concentration in the first place and tips for better focus.
Why a Certified Financial Planner Loses Focus
Some certified financial planners pride themselves on how quickly they can get back to a client. But this is what could be costing you a tremendous amount of wasted time. Now you may think a quick glance at your inbox only costs you seconds. But, according to a study done by the International Journal of Information Management, that residual dirt, so to speak, lingers on your brain for 64 seconds.
In plain language, we’re wasting one out of every six minutes if we’re constantly checking our email every 5 minutes or jumping when an alert of a new message pops up.
We are bombarded with distractions, whether it’s a phone call, a colleague asking a quick question, or email firing through your inbox. By trying to be everything to everyone, your own priorities will quickly become pushed to the bottom of your list.
What tends to happen is we’ll begin to multi-task. We’ll check a few emails while on a client call or maybe catch up on some busy work while listening to a webinar about marketing your business. Technically, you can probably do two things at the same time. But studies have shown that what you’re doing is forcing your brain to switch back and forth between two tasks at once, which it hasn’t been built to do seamlessly.
Switching between tasks, such as listening to a client while clearing out your emails, disrupts your performance. You may not respond as thoughtfully as you would to your client’s question and created an a-ha moment that led to a referral. Instead, you just cleared out your junk mail and threw in a couple of “yes, I see” to keep the conversation going.
So now that you know the why behind your “to-do list” never turning into a “done” list, what can you do about it?
Tips for Better Focus
If you search tips for better focus, you can find hundreds of time management hacks, certified financial planners that swear by meditation, or productivity gurus that give you hard and fast rules to live by.
The foundation for better focus before building your habits is understanding and affirming that your focus should aim towards a process, not an event. All too often, certified financial planners will set a goal and focus solely on the event itself.
“If I can get 20 more clients this year, then my business will be successful.”
“If I can get a feature in Forbes magazine, then my marketing efforts paid off.”
Instead, you have to fall in love with the process so you can enjoy your day-to-day activities and eventually enjoy the result.
If you want to get better at sales and get 20 more clients this year, you’ll have to fall in love with the relationship-building process that connects you with 20+ people per day.
Notable marketing efforts will require you to fall in love with the identity of being a marketer and the process the work entails.
And how about the processes you don’t love? You delegate those. But that’s for another blog. For the processes you want to be a part of and the results you’d like to bring, here are the best tried-and-true tips for better focus that can help any certified financial planner.
Hack your environment
You can’t always control your entire environment, but you can control aspects of it. If your office space is near a window that lets in the ambient noise of lawnmowers or honking, it may be worthwhile to invest in noise-cancelling headphones.
If the problem is a co-worker that constantly interrupts you for a quick question or chat, you’ll need to find a way to escape the distraction. A way to do this is setting aside a specific time each day where you’ll be doing the “deep work.” This may require headphones on and a Do Not Disturb sign at your door that states, “1-hour focus work, please return at 11:15 if you have a question”. Maybe add some humour about forgoing that sign if the building is on fire.
Another option is to seek out an environment where you can get this done, whether it’s a library or private room. Write a list of everything that distracts you and frame your focus methods around addressing those first.
Prioritize your health.
Diet, exercise, and sleep patterns are all part of the focus formula that can help your body achieve maximum performance. Not getting at least 7 hours of sleep for most nights of the week could be the root cause for lack of focus or memory issues.
Ever grab a midday donut, working furiously after a burst of sugar energy only to find the 3 pm slump hits a lot sooner? That’s because you’re experiencing a crash. Simple carbs and refined sugars are no match compared to veggies, berries, or other mindful whole foods.
Try the Pomodoro method.
Have you heard of the Pomodoro method? We’re not talking about that cute, fluffy small dog in the Pomeranian family.
This time-blocking technique can help you stay focused and achieve small rewards along the way. Once you’ve established your priorities for the day, you can write a list of when you’re going to do it. This could be client calls from 9 am -12 pm.
During this time, you’ll need to eliminate all your distractions. How that looks for you compared to a peer may be different. It starts with putting your alerts on silent, a sign on your door, etc. Then block your tasks into 25-minute intervals with a 5-minute break. After four intervals, you can take a 15-30 minute break. Keep up with this cycle until your task is done or the time you’ve allotted for it is complete.
This method helps give your brain a much-needed break to come back and refocus with more intention. It can help you maintain focus longer in a sustainable way that won’t burn you out with 3 hours of deep work.
What good is better focus if you’re focusing on the wrong things? If you’re struggling with setting priorities that will traject you onto the right path to reach your goals, we can help.
Build your schedule around your energy.
The old saying goes that there’s usually a morning person and a night owl – they often end up marrying each other. But when it comes to your schedule, taking notice of when your energy is at its peak is when you’re primed to do your best work in a flow state.
Building your schedule around your energy is the best way to maintain focus throughout the day. If you’re a morning person, this is when you should be focusing on the important stuff that requires your energy. This could be when you create content for your social media or craft webinar content for your clients. Whatever the work is, turn your phone off, put up the sign, and try the Pomodoro method for 3 hours during your prime energy window.