You're listening to “Financial Advisor Marketing”—the best show on the planet for financial advisors who want to get more clients, without all the stress. You're about to get the real scoop on everything from lead generation to closing the deal.
James is the founder of TheAdvisorCoach.com, where you can find an entire suite of products designed to help financial advisors grow their businesses more rapidly than ever before. Now, here is your host, James Pollard.
James: I want to have some fun with this podcast episode, so I'm going to talk about some productivity tips you can learn from billionaires. I'm not going to do a story or an introduction. I'm going to get right into it. Here we go.
The very first tip is to block your time for maximum effectiveness. If you've studied, gee, any productivity articles or books, or YouTube channels or podcasts, you have heard of time-blocking. It is basically blocking out time in your calendar, scheduling based on your calendar, not a to-do list. One of the things that is very shocking to people when they start to get into the productivity space is that maximum productivity comes from operating off a calendar, not a to-do list, and Elon Musk does this. [01:14.8]
While I’ve got Elon Musk on the brain, I want to let you know, there was an interview he did where he explained that he spent 80% of his time working on engineering and design, and that's almost a verbatim quote from him. This is in total alignment with what I found when I created my “How Successful Financial Advisors Think” program.
In that program, I talk about how the most successful financial advisors do not delegate their creative work. They work on the most important task and they do not hand over the reins to those tasks. I thought it was cool to see Elon Musk doing the same thing. I know there are so many pseudo business owners out there who will say, “Delegate. Outsource. I'm out on the golf course, because I’ve delegated everything,” but they give up control and they give away their superpower, and it's a bad, bad, bad thing. [02:06.5]
But back to time-blocking. Elon Musk does it, like I said. Bill Gates also does it. They both reportedly schedule their days into five-minute increments with everything planned in advance. This is time-blocking. It is the practice of setting a fixed amount of time for each task and then integrating the resulting time blocks into your schedule, and this is important because I think a lot of people underestimate what they can get done in a surprisingly short period of time.
There's something called Parkinson's law, which states that work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion. That is the definition. Work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion. If you give yourself two hours to get something done, it will likely take the full two hours. The inverse of this is also true; work contracts to fill the time allotted. [02:58.0]
Now, of course, you're not going to be able to take over the world in two minutes, but you can schedule tasks and get a realistic view of how long something should take. In the financial advisor marketing world, I'm amazed. No, “amazed” may not be the right word. I'm dumbfounded. I'm baffled at how so many advisors take six months to a year to launch a website or several months to put together an autoresponder sequence, or three weeks to flesh out their LinkedIn profiles.
Maybe I'm too hard charging. I'm the guy who's like, Come on, come on, let's go, let's go, let's go, let's go. Let's get it done. But I think these things should be done quickly. It should not take you six months to modify your homepage. It should not take you a year to get your website done. Schedule it in your calendar. Then park your butt in a chair and do not get up until the task is complete. If it's too much for one day, break it down into several days. If it's too much for a week, break it down even more than that. Too much for a month; break it down. Too much for a year; break it down, and do not stop until it is complete. [04:04.4]
I’ve seen how impactful small time slots in my own schedule can be. I'll give you a specific example from my life so I'm not just talking vaguely here. I use a meal prep company called Fresh N Lean to prep breakfast and lunch for me almost every single day. I'm pretty sure they use the same supplier as a company called Trifecta, so if you use Trifecta, you're getting the same stuff as me.
Anyway, I heat these meals up in the microwave for three minutes, and during those three minutes, I tidy up the kitchen. I empty the trash. I respond to text messages on my iPad because my phone is usually locked in a kSafe during the day. I almost never have my phone on me because I don't want to be distracted. I want to maximize my productivity. I want to focus on my work. I don't want to be distracted by my phone, so I have it locked in what's called a kSafe, again. If I have text messages, I will respond to them on my iPad, which is upstairs. My office is downstairs. There's a lot of stuff that I do within those three minutes instead of sitting around, waiting for the food to be hot. [05:04.0]
So, time-blocking is awesome, but I want to point out you should not make the mistake of trying to block out your time without having accurate data. Getting an accurate measurement of how long it takes you to complete something in your natural state is important. For example, if it takes you 30 minutes to send 10 cold emails, I don't want you to schedule an hour. I don't want you to block out an hour of your time, okay? Nor do I want you to schedule 15 minutes, at least not right away.
By tracking your time, I mean, really tracking it, you've hit the clock, have the clock run, and when you're done with the task, you stop the clock and you know how long it took you in your natural state. By knowing how much time you spend on a given task, you can give yourself accurate times when time-blocking, and then you can continue tracking your time and try to beat those measurements. [05:55.3]
This is one way you can begin to have a lot of free time while making the same amount of money, because if it used to take you eight hours to get all your work done, you can use … we're going to talk about, there is no such thing as getting your work done, but ending your work day, getting all the things on your calendar done, then you can use Parkinson's law to your advantage and squeeze it down to six hours. You can work fewer hours per day and you can have more free time each day or you can do something like take Fridays off and still be as productive as you were before.
I also want you to avoid the temptation to overschedule your day. One criticism of time-blocking is that people think it will turn them into robots that mindlessly go from one task to another. But guess what? You can schedule free time. You can schedule time to do stuff by yourself or with your family, or to be creative.
Another criticism of time-blocking is when financial advisors say they can't do it because too many things come up during the day. I empathize with that. I get that. Stuff comes up. Stuff happens. You can also schedule reactionary time so you can react to everything that came up during the day. That's what I personally do. [07:05.7]
In the morning, I'm responding to Inner Circle questions. I am working on my most important task, and short of my house being on fire, there is nothing that can distract me from doing those tasks, nothing, because I know that I have my reactionary time scheduled in the afternoon to deal with all the stuff that came up during the day.
I also intentionally schedule my reactionary time in the afternoon because I want my highest energy levels to go toward proactive work instead of reactive work. My highest energy level is in the morning. We're going to talk about that because I know something called my chronotype. It's very rare that I make significant progress in my business by reacting to stuff. Almost all of my business growth comes from proactive activity, and so I try to fit more proactive activity in my calendar. It's not rocket science. [08:00.0]
The next tip is to take some time to think by yourself. This comes from Think and Grow Rich and the book changed my life forever, totally, totally, totally transformed the way I think, transformed the way I operate, and if you believe the story in Think and Grow Rich, there are some people out there who will say, Oh, it's not true, it's completely made up. Hey, look, I don't know if it's real. I don't know if it's fake. All I can tell you is that it did make an impact on my life, I don't know.
If you believe the story, Andrew Carnegie, the billionaire steelmaker, the industrialist, he sent Napoleon Hill to interview people who would've been billionaires today to learn about how they attained their success, and one of the things that came up again and again was sitting in a room and quietly thinking about your goals. [08:46.8]
Hey, financial advisors. If you'd like even more help building your business, I invite you to subscribe to James' monthly paper-and-ink newsletter, “The James Pollard Inner Circle”. When you join today, you'll get more than $1,000 worth of bonuses, including exclusive interviews that aren't available anywhere else. Head on over to TheAdvisorCoach.com/coaching to learn more.
There was even a story about inventor, Elmer R. Gates. If you read the book, you know what I'm talking about. He had a special soundproof and light-proof room constructed in his lab. In the lab, there was a small table. It had a pad of paper and a pen, and in front of the table on the wall was a button to control the lights.
He would sit in the dark when he had a problem he needed to solve. He would go into this room. It would be dark. There would be no sound. There would be no light, and he would think. He called this sitting for ideas. He would literally sit there and think. How awesome is that? He wasn't checking his phone. He wasn't browsing social media, because none of it, phones and social media like that, didn't exist. He wasn't watching TV; it didn't exist either. He just sat there, quietly, in the dark, with no distractions, and thought. [10:00.0]
Please don't let this idea pass you by without thinking about it, no pun intended. I cannot stress how important this is. Not just thinking, but eliminating distractions. I use an app called Freedom. The website is Freedom,to, so “Freedom” [dot] “to”, to block distracting websites on both my computer and my phone, actually on multiple devices. I can turn it on and my social media apps won't work on my phone.
For example, I can set it up to be on my email client on my desktop and even Gmail's website. This means I physically cannot check my email even if I wanted to do so. It locks me out of everything, and this is good because it eliminates my excuses. If I want to work in Google Drive, I will create a work environment where the only thing that works on my computer, the only website I can go to is Google Drive, and I can set it for an hour, 30 minutes, however long I want, but the point is that I can only work on Google Drive and nothing else. My devices essentially become bricks that can only do what I’ve told myself to do. [11:04.2]
If you study psychology, this is called a Ulysses contract. I make a decision right now that will impact me in the future. It will basically force me to do something. Ulysses tied himself to the mast so he could hear the Siren songs without going to them.
Next tip is to find your peak performance schedule, and here's something that can change your life. Seriously, I'm giving you so much. I don't want to say value, but I'm giving you gold. Figure out your chronotype. Your chronotype is your body's natural inclination to sleep and to do other things at certain times. There are four of them. Okay, there are lions, bears, wolves, and dolphins.
Lions tend to be the stereotypical early birds—I'm not sure why they didn't just call them birds—while the wolves tend to be the stereotypical night owls. I guess they couldn't call them birds because owls are also birds, so I answered my own question. The most common chronotype is bear and I'm a bear. I'm a mix between a bear and a lion, but our world, it’s actually built for bears. The whole nine to five deal is perfect for bears. [12:12.2]
Now, unfortunately this means if you're one of the other chronotypes, then trying to adjust to this world, the way that banks operate and supermarkets and most jobs, corporate jobs, businesses, it's going to be tough for you, because you'll be trying to adapt to a world that is literally not built for you.
It's critical to figure out when your body likes to sleep, eat, exercise, get some spouse time in, if you know what I mean. People have those different things and you would be shocked, if you go down the rabbit hole, you'll see that spouses who have there are primal urges—okay, I'm going to leave it at that. This is the family-friendly show—that had their primal urges at different times, they tend to have higher divorce rates and more frustration, and you'll learn a lot. If you just Google chronotype, what is my chronotype, the power of sleep quiz, and you’ll just figure it out. You will change your life forever. [13:04.8]
Jeff Bezos has figured this out for himself. According to him, he spends his mornings puttering. That is the term that he used, that, it's not mine, puttering. This is brewing coffee, making breakfast, reading the newspaper, basically taking it slow, and his first meeting is at 10:00 a.m. My point with all this is that what works for him will not work for everyone.
I know that for me, I have two or three hours of work already finished by 10:00 a.m. I'm actually starting to wind down a little bit by 10:00 a.m. and he's having his first meeting. But guess what? Jeff Bezos and I likely don't have the same chronotype and that's fine. So, find your chronotype and then research the ideal schedule for that chronotype and thank me later.
You might be working out at the wrong time. If you are a bear, based on what I remember, based on what has been my schedule for years now, working out in the early to midafternoon is best for you. I'm working out between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. It's not the same every single day, but it's around that time, and if you're a lion, you work out at a different time. If you're a wolf, you work out at a different time. You really need to figure out when to do things every day and you want to have an ideal schedule. [14:16.4]
Next tip, have a place to store ideas. Richard Branson, another billionaire, because this show is about productivity tips from billionaires, says that his single most important possession is his little notebook where he writes down his ideas and his musings.
I think that's incredibly profound and David Allen, creator of The Getting Things Done productivity methodology, says that our minds are best for processing information, not for holding onto it. Have you ever had some inspiration or a great idea and then lost it because you couldn't write it down? Having some way to write it down or record it should be a must. [14:58.3]
I use an app called Any.do or I used to use it, and that was good. Then I switched over to something else. Back when I was managing more people, I would keep a lot of notes in my project manager, which was Asana. Some people use the Notes app on their iPhone. Other people use the voice memos thing. What you use doesn't matter very much. All that matters is you have some place to store your ideas.
The final tip from billionaires kinda sorta is take time to rest and here's a quote that I love. It comes from Andy Grove. Andy Grove says, “My day ends when I'm tired and ready to go home, not when I'm done.” Here's something else I want you to understand. You will never be done. There will always be more stuff for you to do.
I'm not going to discuss my resting strategy in much detail on a free podcast episode because I wrote a lot about it in my Inner Circle newsletter and it was life-changing information for a lot of people. However, I will let you know that one of the things I tell Inner Circle members to do is to read ancient text. One of the ancient texts I tell them to read is the Bible. I also tell them to read like The Art of War and The Prince, and just books that have lasted for hundreds and hundreds of years. [16:11.7]
The Bible is definitely one of those and it has so much wisdom in it, and I love Psalm 23. It says, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.” Now, some can say that Psalm is about shepherds finding green pastures in the Middle East and it has different interpretations, but I think about rest when I read it. It doesn't say, “He suggesteth” or “He recommendeth.” It's “He maketh.” He forceth you to rest, to lie down in those green pastures, stop walking, stop working, stop doing stuff. Lie the flip down is what the Bible says, maybe not in, in those terms, but He maketh, not He suggesteth, so take the time to rest.
Our lives operate rhythmically. If you can understand this, then you'll understand how important rest is to maintaining your productivity rhythm. You work, then rest. You tear the muscles; then you repair them. You burn calories, then replenish. These are all rhythms. [17:11.7]
If you're going, going, going, and you're operating linearly where you're constantly trying to go up into the right, then your life will lose that rhythm and it will lead to bad things. You want to oscillate. You want to have moving averages where your heart beats, it goes up and then down, and then up and down, and it goes to higher highs and higher lows. That is the rhythm of life or that is the rhythm of success, I should say.
To recap, the five things we talked about on this podcast episode: take time to rest. Have a place to store your ideas. Find your peak performance schedule. I'm not even joking, just look for your chronotype, figure it out. Design your schedule. That's probably one of the most important things I could ever give you. Seriously, seriously, seriously, do it. Take some time to think by yourself, and block your time for maximum effectiveness.
And with that said, I will catch you next week. [18:04.0]
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