RRSP season can bring on a hectic schedule of client meetings, late nights and other obligations. If you aren’t prepared, you could be left feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. And that can be bad for business.
“When we get stressed and fatigued, we are more susceptible to being forgetful, moody and irritable,” says Jordan Friedman, stress-management trainer and president of Stresscoach Inc. in New York. “We can start to make more mistakes, and that is not going to be a good thing when you have to deal with clients.”
In order to stay on top of your game this RRSP season, there are several strategies for keeping your stress levels to a minimum:
In order to prevent stress, you first have to identify the initial signs, says Rosalie Moscoe, a stress consultant and holistic nutritionist with Health in Harmony in Toronto.
A pounding heart, sweaty palms, tense stomach, fast breathing, aching neck and a racing mind are signs that stress chemicals are surging throughout your body. Ask yourself what could cause these symptoms.
“Notice when you feel the stress and question the cause,” says Julie Littlechild, president of Advisor Impact Inc. in Toronto. “Is it when you feel you are letting people down? When you are forced to work too late? Or when you make mistakes? By identifying the specific cause – which will be different for all of us – it will help you to understand yourself and to deal with the issue.”
Taking small breaks throughout the day, even five- or 10-minute breaks, Moscoe says, can help to release unnecessary muscle tension as well as to quiet the mind and body.
“Relaxation techniques can take many forms,” Moscoe says. “Deep breathing at your desk, meditating over lunch, a walk around the block or even a 10-minute run on the treadmill can all help us refocus and keep stress levels to a minimum.”
You should take advantage of scheduling tools that can set reminders and alert you of client meetings, personal activities and after-hours commitments. Try to stick to your schedule as closely as possible, Friedman says, and always include at least 15 minutes a day for personal time.
“It is very easy to lose your sense of time once you start working on a task,” Friedman says. “It’s very easy to let these activities slide when you start to get bogged down, so it’s important to have a virtual coach by your side to push you to move onto the next task.”
Creating a process for RRSP meetings will help you to manage time more efficiently, says Littlechild. Ask your clients to send key information in advance. Have an assistant pull together all documentation prior to client meetings and ensure it is complete. Create followup notes during your meetings (or dictate them immediately afterward and have them transcribed by your assistant).
Define how many client meetings you need to have over the next several months and set specific times for them. Consider limiting meetings to 45 minutes, with an additional 15 minutes to finalize your notes.
Skipping breakfast and grabbing lunch on the go eventually can reduce your energy level, Moscoe says: “It’s important to keep regular blood sugar levels and plan ahead for healthy eating. Prepare small snacks ahead of time that can be eaten at your desk if need be. Yogurts and fruit, raw almonds or sliced cheese are much better than grabbing a chocolate bar.”
In addition, make sure you get enough rest – seven to nine hours of sleep a night, according to Moscoe. And keeping late hours to get work done may be counterproductive.
“Stop when you become unproductive,” Littlechild says. “Working into the night can be useless if you’re not functioning properly.”
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