Beating the ticking clock

Everyone has it in equal measures but some seem to get much more out of it than others.

Time is elusive and insurance brokers can find themselves despairing that there are not enough hours in the day.

The way out is not complex but requires contemplation and not micromanaging one’s self.

Not seeing the bigger picture results in a series of knee-jerk reactions, constantly stressed by the crisis of the minute, says Eve Ash, psychologist, trainer and business motivator.

“Everyone can manage time,” Ash says.

“But there is no point trying to organise your time if you haven’t decided at a higher level what’s important to you.

“For example, if your focus is on making the most number of sales, no matter what, don’t expect to find a good work-life balance.”

There is no point trying to organise your time if you haven’t decided at a higher level what’s important to you.

Ash says the key is to reset your attitude and your mental process for getting things done.

“The more you leave things undone, the more they become a downer, and more sure to cause stress,” she says, recommending brokers adopt certain disciplines.

“Insurance brokers, who are good verbally, can pick up the phone to make a sale, and then be held back by paperwork,” she says.

“They feel really stressed and resent it because they feel like that’s stopping them being more effective. Find a way of pushing forward and be disciplined about it.

“If you know you’re a morning person and can put in two or three hours before anyone else starts, that’s what you do. Or else block out a time of no distractions for making your follow- up sales calls, or tell yourself: ‘I’m not going to do anything else other than all my paperwork on Fridays’.”

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When it comes to paperwork, Clancy says she spreads all the pages out on the desk just so she can see the top of each page, and starting at the top of the pile works all the way through till they’re done.

And peak times no longer hold any fear. “I’m finding that the old 30 June peak is no longer such a big deal, as clients now tend
to spread out their payments,” she says. Nonetheless, Clancy takes no chances. “We work ahead for all renewals – a month-and-a- half in advance – to make sure there is not a massive load in that June period.”

Again, technology helps here. Clancy says she runs an entirely paperless office, where any document that doesn’t come in as an email is scanned and entered into the system.

This makes it easier to file everything in the one spot, so all information can be accessed instantly when a client phones in. “The amount of time it has saved our business is huge,” Clancy says.

Often insurance brokers work as small businesses or on their own, the type of operation that Roland Hanekroot sees often. He’s a business coach who has worked with insurance brokers, and takes a distinctly contrarian view.

Hanekroot asserts that most time management approaches are based around ‘how to manage a diary’ or setting up a ‘to-do list’ and this is a mistake.

“I prefer to advise clients to look for clarity, which is more powerful,” he says.

This involves breaking a process down into steps.

“The small stuff you can handle; it’s the big stuff that overwhelms us and makes us beat ourselves up for not doing enough.”

Hanekroot suggests writing down very clearly the specific things you want to do every week, but not to be too detailed or prescriptive about it.

“There might be 60 things you have to do during a day but there really are only two or three big things that you need to do to be able to say ‘I feel good about my day’.”