How to Disregard Information

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With today’s technology, we are bombarded with information and have access to it 24/7. We (and our clients) struggle with how to manage all that incoming data. I am hearing more often from my financial adviser clients that they are drowning in information and are unsure how to sort through it all to use only what is necessary or relevant.

One example of this is David, a 20-year veteran adviser, who told me, “I get overloaded with emails and reading materials, not to mention mini projects that seem important to deal with at the time. It seems the bigger my business gets, the more “stuff” I have to deal with. When is it safe to disregard the information overload that seems to happen daily?”

Create an Information Management System
What David is experiencing is common; the more the business grows, the greater the level of overwhelming information that grows with it. This is a natural part of the business-building process, but what typically does not come naturally is how to actively manage the information. You need to learn the art of disregarding information. Here’s how:

Block out your day into hours of activities that you know you need to do. When you get interrupted, make note of what the interruption is and assign another time for when you will attend to it. (An example might be getting a message about not receiving a dividend check. Choose to take, delegate or address the interruption during your client servicing hour). Then, assign a number to the activity based on a scale of 1 to 4 with 1 being the most important and urgent to 4, not important and not urgent. During your client servicing hour, make do the 1s, then 2s and so on.

Create Your Information Tool
If this process seems familiar, it is because I have described the time matrix to-do list in previous articles for FPA. It’s a tool I originally created as a client interruption tool, but it is also designed to help you disregard information until a later date or time, or to disregard specific information altogether. (An example might be getting a number of emails from clients and/or the back office. During your information hour, briefly skim your emails, prioritize them by assigning them a number, 1 to 4, and place it in the subject line to help you organize, but be sure to delete the number when you reply.) As you prioritize your emails, delete any non-relevant information immediately.

When to Disregard Information
The fact that you can disregard information anytime you’ve determined that the information is not important and urgent makes it relatively simple but not necessarily easy, because you now have to determine if it is information that should be deleted or saved for a later date, or if it might become important and urgent. If you can do this, receiving new information will not seem like a burden but rather a streamlined process, as you concentrate on focusing your time and energy on building your business.

If you would like the time matrix to-do list, email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing for Advisor Solutions at

Dan FinleyDaniel C. Finley
Advisor Solutions
St. Paul, Minn.

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