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A Universal Challenge

Regardless of the industry we're in or the role we play, we can all relate to the challenge of having more things to do than time to do them. Yet, while some people stay busy all day without moving the needle, others are able to make leaps and bounds in their practice without breaking a sweat. How?

Oftentimes, those who work feverishly with minimal results are spending the majority of their time on insignificant activities. Pings and dings of emails and text messages are constantly vying for our attention and can make us feel like we must tend to these insignificant tasks immediately. Worse, they prevent us from getting anywhere, and they never really stop. 

Achievers, on the other hand, identify high-leverage, results-producing activities and execute them with laser focus. This approach is called the "pillar system." The pillar system replaces time management with focus management, and if you're willing to learn and apply the system yourself, you can help business professionals win the battle against those pings and dings.

Did You Know...

  • Of small business owners, 61% feel like they are racing against the clock*
  • Small business owners think they would need 69 hours per week to run their businesses successfully*
  • According to one survey, 68% of small business owners spend their time working “in” their businesses instead of “on” their businesses*


The Pillar System Creates Clarity, Simplicity, and Results

The premise of the pillar system, invented by ProductivityGiant.com founder Brian Margolis is that if you prioritize and focus, your business project will move forward. The system boils down your business, project, or job to a small set of activities (pillars) that, when executed consistently, all but guarantee you hit your goals. And the best part? You only need to do one or two activities that you already do well.  


What's a Pillar Made Of?

Each pillar must include these six criteria:

  1. Directly or indirectly correlated to the health and/or growth of your business
  2. A high-leverage activity
  3. A quantifiable activity or have a predictable result
  4. Measurable weekly
  5. Something you know how to do
  6. Something that's not already a habit

Remember, it’s not about finding the key, but about finding your key.


Identify and Make Habits Out of Pillars

To help business professionals identify their pillars, encourage them to ask themselves this question: What are one or two things I already know how to do, that if I did more of, or more consistently, would have the biggest impact on my business?

Some examples used by other business professionals include better client meetings, earlier follow-up, and non-sales touches. Make sure whatever they choose meets all six criteria of a pillar.


Implementing Pillars Improves Focus Management Strengths

At the end of the first week, ask your business professionals if their pillars are moving their business in the right direction. If they are, now the goal is to turn them into habits and build an accountability program to keep at it. If the pillars aren’t working, they need to revisit them and make sure they’ve identified the correct ones. We’ve created a worksheet, Four Steps to Identify & Execute Your Pillars, to help them work through the process. Be sure to reach out to your Hartford Funds advisor consultant. He or she can not only serve as a source of information for you about the pillars system, but can also serve as an accountability partner.


Prospect Business Professionals By Sharing These Strategies

If you're looking to engage and build relationships with business owners, entrepreneurs, sales professionals, and the like, this presents a powerful opportunity. After you've mastered these techniques, you can teach them to other professionals as a unique way to connect and bring value to business professionals in your area. We've even created a worksheet below to help you guide them through the process and help them stay on track.


Where Can You Find Business Professionals Who Need Help?

Business owners, entrepreneurs, and sales professionals face many of the same challenges that you do, so these strategies are going to be valuable to them as well. There’s an abundance of possibilities and opportunities because these core principals of success apply to any business. Invite members of local groups such as Chambers of Commerce, Rotary Clubs, Small Business Associations, real estate groups, your existing clients who are business owners...the list goes on. 

Consider starting your own professional mentoring or masterminds group. A masterminds group is designed to help you navigate through challenges using the collective intelligence of others. A group of smart, competent people meet weekly, monthly, daily even if it makes sense, to tackle challenges and problems together. They lean on each other, give advice, share connections, and do business with each other when appropriate. It's very much peer-to-peer mentoring and if you are able to be part of one, you will most likely see a marked change in yourself and your business.


How to Pitch the Idea

"You have a lot on your plate already, and the last thing you need is one more to do. Are you interested in minimizing work and maximizing results?"

"Let me show you how I can be a vital part of helping you grow your business, and how we can grow our businesses together."


What Else Is In It For You? The Law of Reciprocity

The law of reciprocity asserts that people tend to repay, in kind, what another person has provided for them; people give back, or reciprocate, the kind of treatment they have received from another. This sense of future obligation associated with reciprocity makes it possible to build lasting relationships and exchanges. In a business sense, it might be framed as: You bring value to me, I consciously or subconsciously look to return value to you. The law of reciprocity can lead to referral opportunities from new relationships with centers of influence.


Next Steps

1 Download the pillars worksheet for business professionals
2 Do an online search for professional individuals or organizations in your area to pitch your time-management offering

More on Time Management for Financial Professionals >


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This article is based off of our popular Time Management for Financial Professionals module. Click here to access additional content to share.

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*3 Time Management Tips for Small Business Owners, smbceo.com, 3/9/17. Most recent available.

ProductivityGiant.com and Brian Margolis are not affiliates or subsidiaries of Hartford Funds.


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