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Agent Guide: Prioritizing Your To-Do List

It can be rewarding and fun being an insurance agent, but to be a successful one, there are many hoops to jump through and a never-ending list of tasks to get through in order to reach your professional goals.  Every day, one task leads to another to another to another, and before you know it, you’re knee-deep in an ever-growing to-do list that is pages long. When you feel overwhelmed by your to-do list, you end up trying to do everything at once, not finishing anything and doing all of it poorly. It’s important to set up a list of priorities and create a timeline tailored for your work schedule to ensure you’re a successful insurance agent who performs each task well and efficiently.

Highlight Your Accomplishments and Write Goals

When trying to come up with an effective and not overwhelming to-do list, sometimes it’s important to take a step back and first look at the bigger picture. Try writing your own year-end self review before creating a to-do list. Only into the third or fourth month of your work year? No problem. When writing this faux year-end review, pay attention to the “accomplishments” you have written down that you want to share with your boss when you ask for that raise or promotion. What will you want to be able to point to as your achievements? What will you want to be able to highlight as your accomplishments? These larger goals should be the main focus of your to-do list. Take a look at the bigger picture and then look at your current to-do list. Are all of these tasks and projects going to lead up to your ultimate goals of what you’ve written in your imaginary review? If not, trim the fat. Get rid of anything that isn’t pushing you toward your larger goals.

Sort and Order Your Priorities

Once you’ve cleaned up your list, categorize the items that are still on that list. Start with the large goals highlighted at the top. Next on the list should be the basic building blocks and easy tasks you need to do to prepare yourself to work toward that goal. The larger and most overwhelming tasks to complete the project or goal should come last. If you build momentum by starting small, there is much less of a chance for you to become overwhelmed. It’s important to look at the bigger picture first before making the finalized to-do list, but once the list has been made, focus on each little task at hand and set up reasonable timetables to complete each task. You’ll have an easier time sticking to the list and not procrastinating, and it’s immensely rewarding to be able to check off or cross out little task after little task on your way to the bigger projects. Before you know it, you’ll have chipped away at the majority of your list and your goal will be complete.

What Time of Day Do You Work Best

?When putting a timeframe on each task on your to-do list, it’s important to figure out what time of day you produce the best work and when you’re most productive. Most people fall into three categories of when they’re most productive: morning, early afternoon, or evening. Obviously, if you’re a night owl, and that’s when you’re most productive, that might not help you out much at a 9-to-5 job.  However, if you can figure out a time when you’re most productive during that 9-to-5 workday, try to schedule in the tasks that require more attention and focus than the others. You’ll work diligently and stay focused as long as you don’t schedule any other tasks, i.e., answering emails, setting up client calls, etc., during that set time.

Match tasks on your to-do list to your energy levels during different times of the day. Do you usually feel sluggish after lunch? Don’t schedule an important phone call with a huge client and don’t plan to work on a task that requires a lot of brainpower. Right before lunch and right after lunch are the worst times of day to set up a meeting or a conference call. Right before, your blood sugar tends to be lower, and you’re less focused because you’re thinking about what you want to eat for lunch and trying to hide the fact that your stomach is growling. Right after, your body is digesting that turkey sandwich, which is burning energy and makes you feel sleepy. During those times of day, it might be better to focus on remedial tasks like organizing your space or cleaning up your email inbox.

Time Management for Phone Meetings

A huge part of the insurance business is client relations and interactions with people, and that alone can take up much of your time. Usually, this is done by phone, so it can feel like being on the phone is eating up a huge part of your workday when there are other pressing tasks on your to-do list. When setting up a time to call your client, don’t schedule calls too far in advance, if possible. It becomes overwhelming when you see that phone call scheduled for a month out, and it’s something you won’t be able to easily and quickly check off of your to-do list. Make sure you’re upfront with the person you’re scheduling the phone call with and only allot 15-20 minutes of phone conversation time.  Most people’s time is blocked out in 30-minute increments, so if you go over a little bit, you won’t stress out and get off schedule with your day. With a time limit in place, both you and the client go into the conversation knowing there are parameters, which helps ensure the conversation is productive and doesn’t drag on with too much chitchat.

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