3 tips for effectively managing an overwhelming workload

July 31, 2017 by Drew Butterfield

An advisor works on controlling his workload.

About the author:

Drew Butterfield

Business analyst

As a product expert, Drew has extensive experience working directly with both retail and enterprise partners. He enjoys taking feedback from users to continue Advicent's high standard of financial planning software. Drew graduated with his MBA in 2014 and is currently pursuing his CFP certification.

Whether trying to get your new firm off the ground, build your initial client base, expand your book of business, or if it is just tax season, at some point in their career many financial advisors are bound to experience an overwhelming workload.

Okay, perhaps that is a misnomer. A more accurate description would be that advisors face a seemingly overwhelming workload. The key is to manage that workload efficiently and not let it get to a point where it becomes overwhelming. Here are a few ways to effectively manage work when you are feeling overwhelmed.

Prioritize work

While prioritizing work to manage your workload might seem self-evident, this one is not always put into practice. It is very tempting to drop whatever you were doing and begin working on whatever the latest work that has come in and grabbed your immediate attention is. It is also very tempting to help the loudest clients first.

As the old saying goes, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” The more effective approach would be not to lose focus and instead to prioritize work. Another important thing to remember is that some things can wait. If you try to tackle everything at once, it is likely that you will get next to nothing done and it will take longer than if you prioritized the work items and worked on them according to priority.

End the day with a plan to tackle future work

One of the last statements from the previous paragraphs was that certain things can wait based on their priority. One of the main reasons people are hesitant to wait to tackle things that come in is fear that they will forget to do it. Another is the anxiety of knowing that the work is still out there waiting to be done.

If you end your days with a plan, these problems can be alleviated. This could be the end of each day, every last work day of the week, or on whatever pattern works best for you. If you end the day with a plan on when and how you will tackle each item, you will not forget that it needs to be done nor will the anxiety carryover outside of work.

Furthermore, when the time to actually do it comes, it makes it all that much easier to accomplish when it has already been planned out. Last and perhaps best of all, having a plan ensures that you are not just putting the work off and building up an enormous to do list, either. You will still be productive and get it done if you stick to do the important aspects of your plan and adjust where necessary.

Follow a proper work-life balance

A proper work-life balance is crucial to keeping your work from overwhelming you. Burn out is common when you work too much while not enjoying your free time. In cases of burn out, people work themselves so hard that they end up being less productive and not getting the work they needed to get done finished anyway.

An additional important aspect of work-life balance is knowing when to leave work at work. A plan to tackle future work helps keep work off your mind when you are at home, but even more can be done. Set some general guidelines for yourself. Do not work or check emails past certain hours. There might, of course, be special cases like an important deadline that is unavailable or coordinating work with someone in a different time zone. These should be rare and obvious exceptions to your rules. Do not make a habit of breaking your rules once you set them.

Last and not least, having fun always helps. Make sure to take time off when your employer providers it. Take it a step further and spend that time doing things you enjoy instead of stressing yourself out with a personal to-do list where possible. Nothing helps with rebooting and coming back as productive as ever like going out and doing things you enjoy.

To learn how you can save valuable time when communicating with your clients, click here.