The life of an independent financial advisor can be both challenging and rewarding. The more passionate you are about your work, the more likely you are to take on extra tasks and log longer hours. Burning the candle at both ends may result in a productivity boost for awhile, but it can lead to unnecessary stress if you’re not careful. Knowing when to take a break can make it easier to focus, recharge, and get more done in the long run. Here are a few steps that can help you stay productive by maximizing your downtime:
1. Stay Active
Physical activity is key to keep down stress levels. If you don’t have time to go to the gym, make an effort to be active as you go about your day. It could be as simple as a brisk walk at lunchtime or before you head to your next appointment. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. You may even choose an app to remind you to get up and move (such as Stand Up!). Even an additional ten minutes of movement each day can make a big difference.
Face-to-face interaction with friends and family is important for releasing a variety of stress-fighting hormones. This closeness can help boost your sense of well-being and connectedness. Whether you’re having time alone with a significant other or dinner with a friend, you’ll feel less consumed by work and more like you’re living a balanced life. If there’s no one you can reach out to, try setting aside a few hours to volunteer to make meaningful human connections.
Planning your week ahead of time will make it seem more manageable. You’ll also find it easier to focus on your immediate task rather than worrying about what is coming up later. Sometimes a visual representation is all a person needs to make sense of what feels like chaos. If you plan out your time off as well, you may get more out of it and reduce your FOMO (fear of missing out). Advanced planning can also provide the benefit of giving you something to look forward to throughout the week!
Many of us find it hard to leave work behind, but it’s important that our personal time is kept personal. If you have to, turn off your smartphone, close your inbox, be unreachable until you start work again. Keep those hours just for you. Recharge yourself just like you do your devices!
The body’s fight-or-flight stress response can be countered by practicing any variety of relaxation techniques. Some people meditate, others listen to relaxing sounds. Yoga postures can release your tension. Keep a gratitude journal to keep track of the things in your life you appreciate. Take deep breaths to calm your mind. Curl up with a good book or enjoy a warm beverage (I like to have green tea in the afternoon). Any of these actions can have a positive effect on a person’s mood; do what works for you.
If you’ve been busy working all week, the chores on your to-do list have likely piled up. Be careful not to let them eat up all of your free time. Prioritize your downtime above tasks that can be done later. If you have family members who can share some of the obligations, ask them to help out. Don’t be afraid to hire out to give yourself the break you deserve.
When you’re an independent financial planner you face a difficult balance between your work and personal lives. With a bit of planning and discipline, you’ll find it easier to make the most out of both.