Do More by Doing Less

Betsy Abney, Wealth Management Academy Assistant Advocate
March 1, 2019

Most people in an office setting let their calendars dictate how they spend their time. Time blocking helps you do just the opposite: it lets you dictate to your calendar how you will spend your time. Personally, time blocking has given me almost another full day of work completion per week.

If you take the time once a week to block your schedule for the next week, you will find that having designated times in your schedule each day to concentrate on one thing at a time without distractions allows you to get a considerable amount done. Contrast this with the idea of spending your time attempting to multitask—which is really just switching from task to task and is ultimately distracting, ineffective and inefficient.

This may mean creating meeting blocks of 25 or 50 minute meetings (so you have time to get to the next meeting), or it may mean allocated time for special projects or regularly recurring blocked time specifically for calls and emails etc. This allows your brain to concentrate on one thing at a time and allows you to be more conscious and thoughtful with your time.

To be effective, you will have to schedule time blocks in your calendar and stick to them. Maybe you only do meetings on certain days of the week or only in the mornings. Maybe you give yourself two-hour blocks for certain types of project work. It may mean closing your door or getting noise-cancelling headphones. It definitely means not having your phone or email distract you.

Time blocking can also work at a firm level. For example, I know an assistant that worked for two different departments within a firm. She was constantly getting pulled back and forth between both sides of the business, which led to her really getting very little done for either yet neither side thinking they were using much of her time. For two weeks, she used her Outlook calendar to document everything she did and who she did it for. This allowed her firm insight into just how her time was being spent between both sides of the business. Furthermore, it allowed her to create a functional, daily time-blocked calendar that split her time fairly between the two sides of the firm going forward. In the end, setting expectations about her availability allowed her to get more done for both sides of the business in less time. It also gave her greater job satisfaction as she did not feel like she was being pulled between the conflicting priorities of both groups.

Lastly, don’t limit your time blocks to the daily grind of paperwork, email, phone calls and meetings; block time in your schedule to learn new things. You DO have time for personal and professional development—you just need to block time for it. You cannot serve your clients, your firm or yourself to the best of your abilities if you do not take time to learn and grow. Read books and articles. Take classes. Concentrate on a webinar. Learn things. Update or change processes. Share thoughts with others. Learning is healthy and worth your time.