Email Marketing for Financial Advisors: Best Practices for 2019

email marketing for financial advisors, Email Marketing for Financial Advisors: Best Practices for 2019

Summary:  Email may not have the cutting edge, high-tech appeal of some of the other marketing tactics. However, when done right, email marketing for financial advisors can be remarkably effective. In order to build a productive email campaign, advisors should begin by examining the needs of their audience. A broad-based “spray and pray” approach is the quickest way to burn through your hard-earned email list. On the other hand, highly targeted value-add communications will help you build trust, drive referrals, and stay connected to your prospects and clients. Read on for best practices (by email type) and some common email marketing mistakes to avoid.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to participate in a lively discussion with a thought leadership group comprised of forwarding thinking, young marketers. The topic eventually turned to the effectiveness of email marketing for financial advisors. Although opinions differed greatly on the types of campaigns financial advisors should leverage, there was one thing we could all agree on:  Email marketing, when done correctly, is widely effective.

But what does that mean for financial advisor email marketing, now that we are in 2019?

Email has certainly become a standard mode of communicating with clients and prospects, but it is overused? Do people care about the emails they get from a financial advisor? Isn’t newsletter marketing dead? And, most importantly, should you make it easy on yourself and sign up for one of those services that will generate and send marketing emails for you?

As with many things marketing, getting hard numbers and data can make the difference between a great strategic decision and a dead-end money pit. So, let’s look at some numbers.

  • According to CampaignMonitor data for 2019, average email open rates across surveyed industries is 17.92%. Financial services enjoy a slightly more favorable open rate than the average (18.23%).
  • No surprise here: It’s better to have prospects opt into your campaign. The same resource suggests that open rates for permission-based campaigns (i.e. ones where a prospect or a client has given you permission to email them) range between 30% and 40%. That’s a significant upgrade!
  • According to HubSpot, 99% of people check their email at least once a day. That means you have a good chance of your prospect or client seeing your message when it comes in (as long as it doesn’t get caught by the spam filters).
  • CampaignMonitor supplements that stat: More than 50% of their survey respondents check their personal email account more than 10 times a day, and it is by far their preferred way to receive updates from brands.
  • Finally, marketers who use segmented campaigns note as much as a 760% increase in revenue (CampaignMonitor, 2019 data).

So, the data would suggest that the optimal combination for successful financial advisor email marketing should look like this:  Ask for permission, send regular emails, make your messaging relevant for the recipient.

Which sounds like common sense.

As always, the devil’s in the detail. And so, I wanted to share with you some common questions and specific best practices for financial advisor email marketing campaigns. These are the types of campaigns that a firm of any size can use with success. Campaigns can be super-simple, or you could go all out and have them professionally designed to suit your style. So, don’t feel that email marketing isn’t for you unless you have a big budget.

Should financial advisors build an email list — or buy one?

Most advisors I know would prefer to do things in the most efficient way possible. From that perspective, one might imagine that buying a list of (ideally) pre-screened prospects from a data company would be faster and better than building your own list through a sign-up form on your website.

The reality is a bit more complicated.

First off, the CAN SPAM Act of 2003 requires anyone who purchases an email list with a commercial purpose to abide by certain rules. While those rules do not include obtaining explicit permission from the individuals on the list, they do require accurate transmission information (i.e. who the email is from), non-deceptive subject headings, a clear identification that the message is an advertisement, and an opt-out provision that gives the recipient a choice about whether they wish to receive future emails from you. If you are interested in a deeper dive into this subject, this FAQ article has good information. In summary, though, as long as you follow those requirements, you can send emails until the recipient opts out — at least in theory.

In practice, buying a list of emails exposes you to additional risks. There’s a risk that the list was assembled through shady or outright illegal means (such as address harvesting or dictionary attacks). Plus, there’s an (admittedly small) chance that someone on the list has already opted out of receiving emails from you before you purchased the list. Either one of those risks can expose you to fines under the CAM SPAM Act.

What exactly is permission in this context? It could be implicit permission in the case of email recipients who already have a relationship with you (through doing business together, being acquainted socially, or being a part of the same charity or club). Or, it could be explicit permission, like when a prospect types in an email address to download a whitepaper or a checklist.

What about “renting” an email list?

There is another practice in the industry that’s known as “renting a list”. When you “rent” someone’s email list, they email their list of contacts on your behalf. You don’t get to see any of the email addresses. Think of it as buying an ad that someone will share with their list for a fee.

Is “renting” a list better than “buying” a list? Not necessarily. It’s true that the risks are different. For one, even if you are merely renting a list, the recipients did not give you permission.  The reader is not expecting an email from you, so they may feel annoyed and sold to — not the mindset you need to convert skeptics into clients.

And then there is the elephant in the room.

At the end of the day, the provider of the list (whether they sell it or rent it) is in the business of selling or renting lists. It’s in their best interest to sell/rent a list as much as they can to maximize their profit. That leads to the people on the list getting spammed with a high volume of unexpected and unsolicited offers. Your offer can get lost among them. You may also experience a high degree of unsubscribes, bounces, and spam complaints. All of that adds up to a low ROI.

Bottom line:  Buying or renting an email list may seem like an inexpensive shortcut to reaching more prospects. In reality, doing this can negatively affect the deliverability of the emails you send to legitimate prospects, spoil your reputation, and result in a poor ROI.

The names on any list you might buy or rent are likely to be “burned out” by too much spam. Think about it… If you spent years building a solid list of people who had opted into getting messages from you, would you sell it for just cents per email address? So, if a list is available for sale, it’s probably not the high-quality goldmine that the list company would have you believe.

What should you do instead?

Build your own list by having people opt into getting emails from you. Yes, a home-grown email list takes time to develop and nurture. However, doing this will keep you on the right side of the anti-spam rules — and it will be much more effective in terms of ROI and long-term practice growth potential. Give your audience plenty of opportunities to subscribe to your emails by adding a form to several locations on your website. Limit the volume of data you collect up front (first name and email address are usually enough to get started). In other words, make it very easy for them to say “yes” and join the list.

Best practices for financial advisor email marketing

So, you’ve developed a list of emails from prospects or clients. How can you build an email marketing campaign that will nurture those relationships?

Here are some ideas that can work well for financial advisors.

1) The financial advisor newsletter is alive!

Believe it or not, the tried-and-true newsletter format is still an effective way of establishing an ongoing communication cadence with your clients and prospects. Most financial advice firms have transitioned the newsletter from the traditional hard-copy/printed format to digital. A digital newsletter is inexpensive and relatively simple to pull together. Even if you choose to invest in a professional layout template, you get to reuse it multiple times, which can lead to a solid ROI.

If you are considering adding a newsletter (or if you have one and are wondering if you set it up the right way), here are 5 best practices that can make it or break a financial advisor newsletter.

  • Choose a frequency and stick to it. You may not think of it this way, but a newsletter can become an important component of building trust with the prospects who don’t yet know you. If you promise them a monthly newsletter, be sure to deliver a monthly newsletter. Generally, it’s better to pick a lower frequency that’s sustainable for you — than to promise a weekly communication and fail to keep it up.
  • Create a central theme and a structure for your newsletter. Nothing wrecks your readership-bounce-rate like a mailer that’s disorganized or hard to follow. You might brainstorm some re-usable topic categories that would strike a chord with your audience (perhaps highlighting an upcoming decision or action deadline, sharing a budgeting tip, a market performance update, a summary and take-aways from a recent book you’ve read, or a “get to know” section to present profiles/updates from team members).
  • Make a clear path for someone to opt-out. The number one sin when executing a digital newsletter campaign is trapping your audience in a slow and painful “death by email” spiral. Nothing deteriorates your brand faster than spamming disengaged customers. Give your readers a clear off-ramp. Your newsletter will be better for it. At the very worst, you will know that your messaging needs to be refined based on an alarming rate of unsubscribes.
  • Give your images alt tags. Email clients (such as Outlook, Apple Mail, or Gmail) can be a tricky beast, and you never know what settings your recipient has enabled. If you are trying to spotlight a project, or if you have invested time in creating a beautiful layout, you surely want your recipients to see it! Giving an image an alt tag will allow alternative text to appear if the image doesn’t load. Also, be sure to test the formatting of your newsletter to ensure it will display right across different platforms.
  • Reduce load times. Be sure to optimize high-quality images for digital viewing. Compress your images to maintain quality while reducing long email load times. Your clients and prospects are experiencing heavy information overload. You have just 1-2 seconds to grab a prospect’s attention. Don’t allow long load times on your emails to sabotage your chance!
  • Promote your newsletter through your social media. Each time your send a newsletter, share one point on your social media profiles — and encourage your followers to subscribe to the list. This step takes virtually no time or effort — and can seamlessly deliver more eager subscribers.

2) Drip sequences can work, too.

After a prospect has signed up for a lead magnet (such as a report, a white paper, or a checklist), some advisors follow up on the initial delivery with a short series of emails (something known as a drip sequence). The purpose of a drip email sequence is to build trust, deliver value, and give the prospect an opportunity to take the next step in the relationship if he or she is ready.

Here are some best practices for financial advisor email drip sequences.

  • Segment your prospects. Relevance is the key factor that can make the difference between an email that’s perceived as valuable — and one that’s promptly sent to trash. If you reach out to different categories of clients or prospects, make sure that you have different drip sequences to suit their needs. In other words, pre-retirees and business owners should get different emails. This ties into developing your value proposition as a financial advisor; see this article for more tactical advice on that.
  • Make sure that every email in the sequence adds value. The litmus test I like to use is whether my target audience is likely to save the email, print it out for reference, or forward it to someone they know. If the answer is “probably not”, then you need a different email — or you risk burning out your new subscriber quickly.
  • Use storytelling techniques to get the reader’s attention. Remember, they don’t know much about you yet. Stories are a powerful tool for connection and trust-building. A well-chosen and well-told story can immerse your prospect into what it’s like to work with you. Think of personal stories that will give your reader a glimpse into your personality, expertise, and experience. There are many great books about effective story structure, and this topic alone could make for a whole other blog post. For now, keep in mind that a story is most effective when you can clearly define a challenge or the stakes, walk the reader through several different emotions, and provide closure.
  • Subject lines matter, a lot. You may spend a couple of hours refining your email to be just right, but if you don’t have an intriguing subject line, chances are that your open rates will be disappointingly low. According to a digital marketing consulting company Convince & Convert, 35% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone. So, invest some time to come up with a subject line that piques the reader’s interest and gives them the reason to click “open”.
  • Watch your open rates and unsubscribes. One or two people dropping off the list is not a big indicator, but if the pattern indicates that a significant percentage of subscribers opts out of your list on email # 3, perhaps you should reassess that specific email.

3) Use email to pre-announce events

Are you planning to attend or host a local event? Email is an excellent tool to inform prospects and clients about it. If you are going to a local event and it’s open to the public, let your readers know and invite them to join you. A targeted email blast can allow you to begin networking at an event before it ever starts.

Before promoting your own event, keep these best practices in mind.

  • Give your readers a reason to care about the event. Just because you have decided to host an educational seminar, a wine night, or an art auction isn’t enough to entice a prospect to show up. You need to let them know why they can’t afford to miss it. Highlight future take-aways. If your key selling point is raising money for a charity or having fun, focus on that. Don’t make your audience wonder why they should go.
  • Tailor the event to your audience. This is another opportunity to segment your list and really think about what each client/prospect set would value most. A generic workshop may not be exciting enough to entice participation. It may be better to host two smaller, highly targeted events that will be well-attended.
  • Make your email actionable. It’s not enough that the client or prospect learns about the event. Give them a specific next step. Perhaps they can register for the event or email the office for details. An email without an action will likely be forgotten quickly.
  • Deploy a responsive design. Fast forward to the day of the event, and there’s a good chance that your client will be using their smartphone to refer back to the email you sent them with all the logistics. Plan ahead and make sure that your email is optimized for mobile viewing!

Financial advisor email marketing:  Round-up of mistakes to avoid

To close this take on the subject of financial advisor email marketing, here are some common mistakes I have seen — and ways to avoid them.

  1. Unclear or misleading subject lines. It’s uncommon for financial advisors to use an outright misleading subject line, although it does happen sometimes. The more common mistake I see is choosing a subject line that’s boring, not sufficiently descriptive, or repetitive. Think of your subject line as a movie trailer: Make the recipient want to open it!
  2. Missing the mark on content. Not every member of your audience is interested in the same content. So, segment your list and make different content streams that are relevant to your readership. Your CRM system should allow you to use tags to facilitate this. And remember, whatever content strategy you start with is just a hypothesis! Be ready to monitor the response from your audience (open rates, link clicks, other interaction with content) — and adapt accordingly.
  3. One-way communication. Have you ever received an email from a “do not reply” email address? This type of tactic comes off as impersonal. It does nothing to encourage interaction. When a company sends out mailers from a “do not reply” address, it tells the audience that it doesn’t care to have a real conversation. Let your readers know that you are receptive to feedback — and you will be amazed at how active your subscribers will become.
  4. Too many links, no clear call-to-action. Links to important content can be helpful and convenient for readers. But, as a thoughtful content curator, it is important to tread carefully here! Too many links can distract the reader from more important content. Don’t try to overstuff your emails with information. Instead, choose a point of focus — and optimize your emails to drive viewers to a clear call-to-action.

What has worked well for you in the land of financial advisor email marketing? Share in the comments. Also, if you would like for me to share templates for anything covered in this article, sound off below. If there’s sufficient interest, we can create/share templates on this blog.

Recommended reading:

Author Bio:

GRAHAM GARDNER

Graham Gardner is a passionate marketer with expertise in creating, managing and delivering metric-driven marketing initiatives. Focusing on relationships and personal connections, Graham advocates for providing clients with meaningful content to create long-term relationships. Graham previously served as an Executive Member (Treasurer) on the Board of Directors for the Society of Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) of Atlanta. Graham and his wife spend their free time watching sports and enjoying nature with their dog Murphy (@Murph_The_Doodle on Instagram!)

Put Some Organization In Your Organization

Life is busy.  Life is hectic. Life can be out of control.  

Whether it’s you, you and your family, or your family and a business, it’s imperative to get and stay organized.  Without proper organization, you’re not positioned for success and that’s no good. Particularly because there are so many tools and resources at our fingertips.  

An underlying theme of the majority of Money Savage episodes is cash flow; specifically, making sure you have a handle on it.  Recently, after the episode with Colin Overweg, where he discussed reaching financial independence, and the episode with Nick Aiola, where he discussed taxes and real estate, I recognized the need to share some practical resources for ensuring you’re not only understanding your cash flow and budgeting needs, but also tracking them. 

Obviously, this presupposes you know and keep a budget, but even if you don’t yet, these tools can help you get there.  I’m going to highlight two free and valuable resources, but please know that there are many others out there.

Mint is a wonderful resource for all things budgeting and cash flow, particularly for individuals and families.  Not only does it provide free tools, it also has an account aggregator which can pull info from all of your financial accounts onto one dashboard.  

Freshbooks a great resource for entrepreneurs and small business owners.  If you’ve ever tried to create an invoice from a word doc, you know what a lousy idea that is.  Freshbooks has a lot of great templates and resources to help you manage your business’ cash flow.  

You need to be on top of your money and where it’s going.  Getting organized can seem daunting, but a first step is having the right tools.  You can do this!

Live On Your Terms

800,000 Government employees went without a paycheck for 35 days, causing many to skip mortgage payments and forcing others to turn to safety nets like food banks to feed their families.  This recent shutdown has left a bad taste in many mouths and has lowered many people’s opinion of our elected officials.  

But today is a new day and paychecks have resumed.  Whatever your thoughts and feelings on our Government’s actions and on seeing so many of our fellow Americans in horrible situations, my advice is this; endeavor to live on your terms.  

Pay yourself first.  If you’re not in the habit of doing this, you’re in the habit of paying everyone else first.  Odds are, you get to the end of the month and there’s nothing left over for you and your family.  Set your foundation.  Get your emergency fund set.  Pay off your credit card debt.  Get to three months income saved.  

Use this recent terrible situation as motivation to get moving in the right direction.  Live on your terms.  

Real Change

I’m sick of being pitched a quick fix and/or a short path to financial freedom everytime I go online.  Lose weight, get ripped, get rich, have better relationships; there’s too many people attempting to prey on our desire for a silver bullet or magic pill that will get us where we want to go.  

Instead of buying someone’s online program, focus on being 25% better in 2019.  

What if your diet and fitness level was 25% better?  What if your relationship with your family was 25% better?  Your finances and overall happiness 25% better? That’d be pretty freaking good, right?!The reality is, we get better the same way we got sick; one bite at a time, one conversation at a time, so on and so forth.  How to do it?

In your interactions with family, seek first to understand, than to be understood.  This will require patience and real listening on your part.

With exercise, if you’re currently working out 2 times a week, add another day or increase the time you’re working out by 25%.  

Audit your eating.  Can you pack a lunch 25% more than you currently are?  This will also help with the next one.

The low hanging fruit when it comes to cutting spending is eating out; I bet you can easily cut this by 25% a week.

Consider increasing your savings rate into your savings account or retirement plan.  If you’re currently contributing 5% to your 401(k), up it to 6 or 7%.

Personally, start practicing gratitude on a daily basis; you’ll easily become 25% happier.  

You can absolutely do this, you just need to get started!  Put pen to paper and figure out how you can make this happen.

Have an awesome Holiday season!

What I’ve Learned

On the anniversary of my first 40 trips around the sun, I wanted to take a moment to share with you what I’ve learned.

  • Community is everything.  Your family, friends, coworkers, the people you spend your life with, are everything in order to have a great life.  The connections, the support, the accountability, the help and wisdom they provide are everything. Everyday, if you work to better your community, you’ll find great purpose, I know I do. I find happiness, contentment and impact in working to advance others.  

 

  • I strongly believe in the power of the individual.  I believe each and every one of us is capable of doing anything, good or bad. When you look at a collective group, statistics are real.  But when you look at the individuals within that group, anything is possible. There’s a great quote by Ayn Rand that says “The question isn’t who is going to let me, it’s who is going to stop me.”

 

  • Each of us has to carry our own load, we each have to run our own race.  Every one of us has fallen victim to looking for answers outside of ourselves, or from other people, when in reality most answers come from within.  Now, to connect community to the individual, I think it’s imperative to take the position that you are responsible to people, not for people. Embracing this empowers you as well as the person you’re working to elevate.  

 

  • Know your values, goals and impact.  Can you list your core values? Mine are friendship, justice and learning.  Have you written down your goals? Do you understand and embrace the impact you have in your community?  The impact you have on your family? At work? You’re having one, embrace it.

 

  • Music makes everything better, turn some on.

 

  • “You don’t have to be serious to be responsible.”  Jennifer Moss told me that on a podcast and she’s right.  I can remember being at a leadership training conference when I worked a large financial company.  At that time, I was at the top of my group experiencing a lot of success and, as I like to do, joking around quite a bit.  The guy in charge came up to me and said “not everything’s a joke” and I realized I wasn’t long for that career path. You’ve gotta have fun.

 

  • I’d rather be useful than brilliant.  I’m very fond of saying this, but the reality of today’s world is that there’s a ton of noise all the time, almost a low frequency hum that sort of washes over us and doesn’t get absorbed  Whenever I find myself participating in that hum, I know I need to change gears.

 

  • Be where you are.  Your full, undivided attention is one of the greatest gifts you can give to another person.  Put your phone down, be present with the people you’re with, or simply sit quietly by yourself for a minute.  Blaise Pascal said “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

 

  • Get and keep a sense of where you are.  Perspective is hard to get and harder still to keep.  It’s so important to consider your place in the world, your circumstances, your obligations, your responsibilities and how lucky and fortunate you are to be you.  

 

  • Get started.  Wherever you are, however old you are, timing will never be perfect, so get started.  The same goes for others, work to meet people where they are without judgement. Help others to get started.  

 

  • Discipline first, than personal responsibility.  I love the idea of personal responsibility, but I get that it’s a learned thing and it’s a muscle that needs to be strengthened.  Until you learn it and the muscle is strong, put some guardrails up. Real change happens incrementally, so take small bites, we get healthy the same way we got sick.  

 

  • How you look at something makes all the difference. You have a choice to focus on the positives or the negatives.  The same goes for the problems facing our world today. If you’re constantly focusing on international issues, you’ll lose your mind because you’re not going to be able to change them.  Instead, focus on how you can bring change to your community. We must tend to our own gardens and it’s important to focus on the parts of our garden we can reach.

 

  • Confidence isn’t everything, but it’s a lot of it.

 

  • “If you sit by the river long enough, you’ll see the bodies of your enemies float by.”  Sun Tzu. Be truthful, treat others fairly, be just and live with integrity. In so doing, the universe will reward you.  It will also balance the ledger because what goes around, comes around. So don’t seek vengeance when someone wrongs you, just know they’ll eventually get what’s coming.  There are a lot of similar quotes attributed to a lot of smart people, but essentially, “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

 

  • Financial peace of mind allows us to more fully pursue our passions.  I’m working to help people lead happier and more contented lives. For a lot of my life and for too many people, money has been more of a negative than it’s been a positive.  Gaining control of it will allow you to live a better life, free to focus on the things that are of the greatest importance to you.

 

Here’s to another 80 trips!

 

Tree of Gratitude

What’s up sisters and brothers!

As we head into the 4thof July Holiday, I want to take a moment to talk about what I’m grateful for.  When I started thinking about all the things I have to be grateful for, it made me think about how, if certain things had been different, how would my life be different today?  That lead me to the visual of a decision tree (If this, then that) and so I’d like to start from the beginning:

  • I was born here in the US-what if I had been born somewhere that didn’t enjoy the same freedoms we do? How would my life be different today?
  • I was born to loving parents-what if I had been born to parents who hadn’t been ready or interested in a child? How would my life be different today?
  • Throughout my life, I’ve enjoyed good health-what if I had fallen ill or been in some kind of accident? How would my life be different today?
  • I’ve had the opportunity to matriculate through an undergraduate degree-what if I hadn’t had the same quality of schooling or the same quality of teaching and support?How would my life be different today?
  • I’ve had and continue to meet amazing friends-had I not formed the relationships I’ve had over the years, how would my life be different today?
  • I’ve had the opportunity to be employed and even to start businesses-what if I lived in a country with less opportunity and more barriers to entrepreneurship? How would my life be different today?
  • I had the good fortune of meeting and marrying my wife-we have the good fortune of having a son. So many variables had to be right for these two things to become reality.   How would my life be different today had they not?
  • Both sets of our parents are still alive. While some of you may be questioning the validity of calling this a blessing, we’re fortunate to have them in our lives.  How would our lives be different today if they weren’t with us?

Perspective is so valuable and so difficult to get and maintain.  That’s why practicing gratitude is so worthwhile.  I had Dr. Gregory Sadler, a philosopher in the Stoic tradition, on the Money Savage podcast last week.  If you’re not familiar with Stoicism, it offers valuable tools for dealing with the many curveballs and setbacks that life throws at us. While not everything is going to go our way, it reminds us that we almost always have a choice in how we respond to adversity.

Please work to keep everything in perspective; the things you have influence over like family and community, as well as the things we have little influence over like national politics.  Wishing you and your family a safe and happy Independence Day!

George

You Can Do It!

What Money Can’t Buy

First, the Beatles informed us that money can’t buy love, and in yet another blow to money, Warren Buffett tells us it can’t buy happiness either.  He said, doubling your net worth won’t make you won’t make you happier.
I spend a good amount of time thinking about how I can help people to lead more contented lives.  Lives in which they wake up inspired to go to work, are fully engaged while they’re there and return home fulfilled at the end of the day.  The reality is, most of us spend more time at work than anything else.  A second reality is, many of us don’t enjoy the work we’re doing.
If getting rich is your desired endgame, Buffett still advocates for happiness along the way.  Instead of letting your happiness be defined by what you don’t have or how quickly you make money, Buffett said “you can have a lot of fun while you’re getting rich.”
Or, instead of letting happiness be defined by the amount of money we make, which sometimes leads us to work that we don’t enjoy, which takes us away from what we do enjoy, perhaps a change of perspective would be beneficial.
In my recent podcast with Louis Efron, VP of Teammate experience at DaVita Kidney Care, you’re professional happiness all comes down to meaning.  The more you’re able to connect to your purpose, the better.  Do you know and embrace the purpose of the company you work with?  Have you taken the time to explore your own purpose?  Louis encouraged people to think about what truly gets them out of bed in the morning (not the alarm clock) and to think about what they’re truly best at.  From there, have conversations about that purpose with your family, friends, coworkers and managers.  This will help you to both personally and professionally align.
Life’s to short not to feel good about what you do.
Contact me with any questions!
Click on on the links below to listen to my podcast on Finding Your Purpose with Louis Efron.

Time

“Tell me how you use your spare time, and how you spend your money, and I will tell you where and what you will be in ten years from now.” Napoleon Hill

 

Do you ever feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get things done? Do you know how much time you spend working everyday? How about how much time you spend on your phone? Do you ever feel like you’re wasting time?

 

I’ve been guilty of wasting time and still am today, but I’ve grown to better recognize when I’m doing it and to refocus. I’ve also learned that having a one year old limits my “free” time, so I better become more efficient.

 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here’s how the average American spent their time in 2016.

 

8.77 hours personal care including sleeping

1.08 eating and drinking

1.07 household activities

.50 purchasing goods and services

8.28 hours working

3.13 leisure

 

Here’s an ugly number-the average American spends 2 hours and 51 minutes a day, 86 hours a month, on their phones. Safe to say, not the most productive use of one’s time.

 

To make matters worse, our minds wander 46.9% of the time. So, going back to the idea that there are never enough hours in the day may or may not be true. Perhaps we’re simply not effectively utilizing those hours.

 

The concept of Deep work tells us “To produce at your peak level you need to work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction.” I fully embrace this idea and know I’m a terrible multi-tasker. One proven method to practice deep work is the Pomodoro Technique.

 

The Pomodoro Technique is a method of time management developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. It uses a timer to break work down into 25-minute intervals with short breaks in between each interval. The technique also advocates planning your work in advance, tracking each 25 minute segment on a piece of paper and talking a longer break of 30 minutes after the fourth segment. Give it a shot, many people get great results from using it.

 

In the spirit of, “what get’s measured, get’s done,” there are many ways to track time; I personally use the Hours Pro app.