Managing Time & Capacity: Part 1
Do you ever feel like there isn’t enough time to get all your priorities done? It’s possible that it’s simply down to the fact that you haven’t got sufficient capacity to deal with all that you set out to do. I’m afraid that time isn’t elastic and we have a finite number of minutes, hours, days, months, and years to play with.
If, like many, you tend to think you are a superhero and can achieve tons of tasks in a day, you’re just going to set yourself up to fail as they won’t get done! My top piece of advice on this topic is: don’t overcommit yourself! Would you rather have three things on your list for the day and achieve them all, or have 10 items on your list and achieve none? The first option is much better than the latter. It’s important to be realistic about where your time goes.
The Capacity Calculator is a tool I use regularly to ensure that I don’t overcommit, and which keeps me on track! Of course, I use the very same tool with my clients.
Our Capacity Calculators allows individuals to work out their capacity for the whole year and is a wonderful tool for planning, especially at the start of the year. It takes into account the number of days allocated to weekends and holidays and various business activities, like answering emails, training days or internal meetings. Once it has this information, it works out how many ‘spare’ days you have, or – more importantly – if you are out of capacity! I reassure you that it’s not unusual for the capacity calculator to show that you are several days ‘in debt’, which may be a rude awakening. Should this happen, it’s important to reprioritise and decide where to spend your time and how best to structure it. It allows you to introduce changes instead of running into major issues or burning out.
At RIE Solutions, we produced several different capacity calculators that are role specific, as of course, the time of a Paraplanner is spent differently to that of an Adviser/Owner or a Practice Manager. Having said that, there are two items that are included across all calculators and that are often underestimated in relation to the amount of time they take.
1. Emails 📧
Have you got any idea of how much time do you currently spend on emails each year? Have a guess…
For the purpose of this exercise, I shall assume that on average you are spending 2 hours per day in your inbox. In 2022, the year has 365 days. If we take off the statutory holiday entitlement for a full-time worker (28 days) and weekends (104 days), you are now left with 233 working days.
If we then assume that your average working day is 7.5 hours, your 2 hours per day spent on emails takes up 62 working days, which equates to over 3 months of full-time work! This leaves you with 171 working days for other work.
I bet you are looking at these figures and starting to feel uncomfortable. Plus, chances are that you currently spend more than 2 hours per day of your time on emails and take more than 28 days of holidays (including bank holidays), in which case the figure of 62 days is rather light.
This is where discipline and structure are critical. Personally, I have specific timeslots allocated to ‘email work’ each day to help me manage my time better. I’d strongly recommend that you do the same.
2. Meetings 🗣
According to a survey conducted by Fellows, a meeting management software company, on average people attend between 11 to 15 meetings per week, and 31% of managers report attending 16+ meetings per week. If we assumed that on average each meeting lasts 30 minutes that would equate to another 3 months of full-time work.
Depending on the size of your firm and your role, it’s likely that this figure may be lower, but it will still be substantial. Consider the amount of time it will take in one year to attend the following:
- Daily team huddle
- Weekly Management Team Meeting
- Weekly Work in Progress or Case Meeting
- Departmental meetings
- “Same Page Meeting” (read more here)
- Quarterly business review meetings
- Quarterly team update meetings
- Annual Business Planning Day(s)
- Project meetings
- Appraisals and 1:2:1s
Of course, if you are in a client facing role, in addition to some of the above-mentioned internal meetings you will be attending various types of client meetings, which your capacity calculations will need to account for. For example:
- Prospecting meetings
- Annual review meetings
- Ad hoc meetings
- Implementation meetings
- Discovery meetings
- Strategy presentation meetings
- Networking days etc
Each firm will have a slightly different structure so the above are just some examples to help you think about the types of activities that you need to be allocating your time to. The key is to understand, what your capacity for the year looks like so that you can verify your plans and ensure that they are achievable.
🚩 Here are a few time-saving tips for a good start to 2022:
- Establish personal goals & deadlines.
- Have a realistic ‘daily to-do list’ and focus on getting the jobs done. Remember, it’s better to commit to doing three things and getting them done than having ten things and getting none done.
- Focus on one thing at a time!
- Prioritise regularly and be aware of giving priority to the tasks that you ‘like doing’!
Use your calendar not as an aide memoire but to manage events by chunking your time:
- Allocate specific days and times to client meetings e.g. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at 10am and 2pm.
- Allocate specific days and times to different types of business activities e.g. Wednesdays as project days.
- Hold your regular meetings always on the same day at the same time e.g. weekly WIP meeting or Management Team Meeting.
- Ensure that there are times in the day that allow you to focus fully on tasks at hand with no disruptions from other team members.
- Check your emails at specific times throughout your day rather than keeping an eye on it at all times (unless your role specifically requires you to do so).
- Have a meetings free day e.g. Friday.
- Delegate and collaborate, don’t try to do it all alone.
- Be aware of wasting time of others.
- Undertake your Capacity Calculations and verify your plans accordingly.
At the beginning of the year, we always think it’s important to get a clear understanding of your capacity. Rather than trying to frantically catch up after the break, take stock of your commitments and plan a clear structure for your calendar and year ahead.
Members of our Master Practitioners Club can find these relevant resources in our library.
- Master Practitioner Organiser
- Capacity Calculator for Financial Planners
- Capacity Calculator for Paraplanners
- Capacity Calculator for Administrators
- Capacity Issues Matrix
- Daily Planning Template (created by FP Advance )
- Weekly Planning Template (created by FP Advance )
- 14 Day Journal (created by FP Advance )
If you are not a member why not consider joining us now 👉 https://rie.solutions/services/master-practitioners-club/.