Managing multiple clients can be overwhelming, especially for a new advisor. A competitive work culture, a heavy work schedule, and overcommitment also lead to additional stress and eventually burnout.
Especially when establishing a new consulting business, new client acquisition takes up a lot of time, and you end up working long hours. Therefore, maintaining balance is essential to manage a heavy or unorganized workload. Several factors contribute to a heavy workload, but if your work quality is adversely affected, then it’s a clear indication that you need to make changes to manage that workload.
Keeping yourself organized and on track will help you be a better advisor to your clients. As an advisor, you have both short-term and long-term responsibilities. How you manage these responsibilities is essential, as they impact other aspects of your life and well-being.
The first step is to acknowledge the problem: you’re failing to maintain balance and are falling behind on your career goals. Following are three tips for managing your clients effectively.
Related: Critical factors for exit planning.
Determine Your Priorities
Tasks must be prioritized as per the needs of others or the urgency of deadlines. Too often, more energy is spent busy, limiting time for essential activities. However, prioritizing tasks with intention and, as per the end, goals ensures that all jobs are completed promptly and drive value.
Simplify your schedule by creating each day’s priorities. This helps you prioritize what you should focus on immediately versus less important things that can be completed later or delegated. Of course, while you are doing this, always ensure that your clients come first.
List your work responsibilities. List even the most minor tasks and understand that not all jobs require the same amount of time and effort. Break more complex or larger tasks into manageable, smaller steps and allocate a specific amount of time to complete each step and, ultimately, the whole task. Every task needs a deadline to keep you focused and measure your daily progress.
Know your limits. Analyzing a task according to its priority helps develop a schedule to complete it. Effective time management also requires strong planning skills to be organized, stay on track, and understand the effort involved to complete each task. This means being self-aware: do not bite off more than you can chew. Do not take on more jobs than you can handle. If you keep pushing the limit, then the chances of you not giving your best are significantly higher.
To prioritize tasks, we recommend using the Eisenhower Matrix. Use this tool to maximize your productivity and focus on your topmost priorities. Developed by former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, this tool helps in being effective and efficient and for taking action on most things. It covers:
- Tasks you will do immediately
- Tasks you will schedule to do later
- Tasks you will delegate to someone else
- Tasks that you will eliminate.
You can separate your activities based on four possibilities, then prepare a schedule of tasks based on their importance and urgency.
Develop an Organizational Strategy
Even though all tasks should be prioritized, the organizing process is not necessarily easy. Even though you intend to be as productive as possible, you will often face multiple urgent requests and tasks during the day, resulting in a growing task list. You might also feel that you cannot accomplish tasks that you set out to finish.
If you have faced this, you are not alone. Since there is no set process for organizing the tasks, you may constantly feel overwhelmed as you struggle to catch up. Another downside of this bombardment is missing deadlines and losing focus. To stay on top of the game and complete tasks as scheduled, incorporate simple yet effective methods to organize and manage the workload.
- Incorporate a prioritization method to organize daily tasks/create a to-do list.
- Use a calendar to schedule the tasks.
- Share your progress with other colleagues/teammates.
- Do not multitask. Science shows that multitasking takes more time and requires more effort than monotasking.
- Work in time blocks with breaks to maintain the quality of your work.
- Remove all distractions.
- Take a self-audit to find how you spend your time and how you can improve your efficiency.
Besides the above tips, you can manage and organize the workflow with proper lists, calendars, and timelines. Project management software may also help, especially when collaborating with team members. To enhance efficiency, collect all items essential to the project—from documents to online files—and arrange them systematically. Finally, allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments so you won’t feel overwhelmed by everything you have to do.
Schedule the Tasks
Scheduling helps plan the activities to achieve goals in the available time. Scheduling helps in the following ways:
- Know what can be realistically achieved within the given time.
- Ensure there is ample time for all essential tasks and activities.
- Plan availability for unplanned, unexpected activities.
- Take on only as much as you can handle.
- Benchmark progress steadily toward the goals.
- Maintain work-life balance.
Scheduling also helps to know what can be achieved in a day, week, or month; this way, one can stay on track and finish tasks in a timely fashion.
How to Create a Schedule?
- Step 1: Identify the total time available to you, organize yourself, and establish the time available for your work.
- Step 2: Block the most important actions that you must carry out to finish a task.
- Step 3: Prepare a list of high-priority activities which cannot be postponed, delegated, or avoided.
- Step 4: Keep time aside for contingency. This will help you cope with unexpected events and emergencies.
- Step 5: Analyze and review your activities to determine what tasks can be delegated or left out altogether.
Get on Track!
Dealing with a heavy workload is not easy, especially if you have multiple responsibilities. However, it’s necessary to tackle all your tasks head-on and not let them pile up into an unmanagable backlog. Delegate and outsource as necessary to maintain quality and keep on schedule.
Letting things slide can affect your physical and mental well-being, which will indeed have an impact on your consultancy practice. We recommend analyzing where and how you are utilizing your time. What can be changed to optimize your time management? This insight will undoubtedly help clarify where you should focus and which tasks are most critical for you and your clients.