Groucho Marx knew the secret. So did singer Phil Collins, who used the Marx Brothers tune, “Hello, I Must be Going” as an album title. While the two entertainers may not have spent time in a reverse mortgage setting, they understood time management.
While you naturally want to serve your senior clients to the best of your ability, you also need to manage your day wisely. It’s easy to fritter away time chatting with colleagues or searching for important documents.
Here are eight smart strategies for staying on track:
1. Show up first. Woody Allen said 80 percent of success is showing up. If you want to have cut-to-the-chase contact with a team member, don’t meet in your office; go to theirs. By dropping by and standing in the doorway, you signal the meeting will be brief, so both parties get right to the point — then you exit, stage left.
2. Don’t-do list. Reverse the To-do list by creating a “Don’t-do list” of time-squandering items, and whenever you’re tempted to expend time and energy on one — don’t.
3. Divide and conquer. Wherever feasible, divvy up important reading material and schedule monthly or bi-weekly meetings where each person summaries the key points of what they’ve reviewed. Designate a recording secretary for each session, and send everyone a follow-up email.
4. Back up. It can’t be emphasized enough, especially in our cyber age: keep copies of all vital documents, files, address books, etc, preferably on a separate external hard drive.
5. Inform. Let your team (and prospects/clients) know when you’re available and when you absolutely can’t be disturbed. You can post a humorous note on your door (or to your voicemail): “Developing theory of relativity. Please leave note or call after 11 a.m. — Einstein.”
6. Code red — and pink and green. Color-code projects according to urgency and length. When you have short gaps in your schedule, tackle the quick or essential ones first.
7. Stay flexible. If a reverse mortgage client needs to talk with you, say you’re very interested in hearing what they have to share and will have time to meet with them at 3 pm. If they say it can’t wait, offer, “All right, how about five minutes now?”
8. Chow down. Sometimes it makes sense to order in a catered lunch (or pizza!) and allow a lively discussion to unfold over full bellies. You’ll actually get more done than if people are watching the clock because they’re hungry.