Research shows the difference between top-performing and bottom-performing financial advisors is only a 10% difference in client-facing time.* Making small changes to your schedule – even just two or three extra client meetings a week – could deliver huge results for your practice. But where can you find the time?

To uncover the most impactful ways to optimize one’s schedule, we asked Dan Markovitz, productivity expert and consultant to Fortune 500 companies, to share his proven strategies for time management. Dan shared three of the most effective strategies for getting more done in less time, with less stress. In this article we’ll explore each of his three strategies in detail.

1. Get Smarter: Do the Worst First

Markovitz’s first time management strategy is to do the worst, most unappealing work, first. To use an example from everyday life, at mealtime, we usually don’t give kids the option to decide what to eat first. If we did, chances are they would go straight for the dessert, skipping the brussels sprouts. This is why parents tell kids they can have dessert only after they finish their dinner.

In Markovitz’s view, in business, we often act like our own children. We avoid the brussels sprouts on our desk and go straight to the dessert, letting the tasks we are avoiding pile up and slow us down. He suggests, “the thing that you don’t feel like doing – do it first, before checking email and making phone calls. Even if you can’t finish it, give yourself 30, 20, or even just 10 minutes to work on it and make some progress. If you’re like most, you’ll find that it doesn’t take as long as you think it will, it’s not as bad as you thought it would be, and the psychic cloud that hangs over you will start to dissipate, giving you a new sense of clarity for the remainder of your day.”

2. Get Clearer: What Will You Work on and When?

Through working with thousands of clients, Markovitz has found that executives typically block time on their calendar for meetings with other people. They leave blank spaces on their calendar when they have time to work on their own priorities. More often than not, the open calendar slots get taken up by other appointments and activities.

Instead of leaving the openings in your calendar blank, make a commitment to yourself and your priorities. Schedule your own work into your calendar, and most importantly, make sure it is not vague. If it’s not specific, you’ll spend too much energy figuring out the best way to get started.

Be explicit about what you’re going to do – for example, “From 9-10 a.m., I will call these seven clients and talk about x, y and z.” Being clear and specific increases clarity, reduces the initiation energy required to get moving, and makes it more likely you will get the work done without letting that time get sucked up by something of lower value.

3. Get Faster: Stop Multitasking

Avoid interruptions and stop multitasking. “Your clients and customers need a predictable response time; they do not need an immediate response. The text that comes in, the email that hits your inbox – those interruptions compromise your ability to focus on your priorities. Instead of multitasking, try single-tasking,” says Markovitz.

When you’re on a phone call, don’t look at emails. Conversely, when you are writing emails, dedicate your entire attention span to emails. This cuts down on wasted mental energy switching tasks and allows you to fully focus on getting work done. Markovitz’s top recommendation in this area is to turn off email notifications on your computer, and switch the email app on your phone from “push” to “fetch” mode.

Setting clear expectations with others is essential. For those who expect you to respond to emails within minutes, let them know it may take more time, but that you will get to their requests. Give your contacts a method to reach you for critical, time sensitive issues, so that all communications do not have the same sense of urgency.

I Don’t Have Enough Time. Really?

In today’s activity-obsessed world, where we all-too-easily experience overwhelm and burnout, it can feel as though we never have the time required to get what we want done. But Markovitz sees this as a problem of prioritizing.

We view time as a resource, but it is equally a reflection of our priorities. You must clearly identify the essential parts of your day to decide what gets your attention. Think about allocating your limited amount of time throughout the day to the things you truly find important. That might include spending more time with your family, or prioritizing health and wellness.

We could all benefit from spending more time speaking to clients, so it’s critical to make sure we identify client-facing activities as essential.

Smarter, Clearer, Faster

These three strategies – getting smarter, clearer, and faster about how you allocate your time, can help you maximize your productivity, allowing you to spend more time on your clients and growing your high-net-worth business. Just two or three extra hours per week can mean the difference between a bottom-quartile and top-quartile practice.

For more productivity ideas and ways to improve your personal performance, check out Dan’s book, A Factory of One. It was honored with a Shingo Research Award in 2013, recognizing its significant impact in advancing the body of knowledge regarding operational excellence.

If you’d like to contact him, he can be reached at, @danmarkovitz on Twitter, or on the web at  

About Dan Markovitz

Dan Markovitz is a productivity expert with decades of experience consulting high level professionals at companies such as Microsoft, Pfizer, and Intel. His article on time management is one of the most read pieces ever published by the Harvard Business Review. 

*Source: Michael Kitces, Pershing Insite Conference 2021

The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Clark Capital Management Group. There is no guarantee of the future performance of any Clark Capital investment portfolio. Material presented has been derived from sources considered to be reliable, but the accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. Nothing herein should be construed as a solicitation, recommendation or an offer to buy, sell or hold any securities, other investments or to adopt any investment strategy or strategies. For educational use only. This information is not intended to serve as investment advice. This material is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast or research. The investment or strategy discussed may not be suitable for all investors. Investors must make their own decisions based on their specific investment objectives and financial circumstances. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

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