Advisers don’t need to drown in work that someone else will be better suited to doing.
Twice last year, once in May and once more in late October, I found myself at the end of my tether. I’d had enough. I wanted to jack it all in, and I certainly didn’t want to be an adviser anymore.
What had led to this state of affairs? I had allowed myself to become over-committed and it seemed like I was drowning, being pulled further and further underwater by the weight of the stuff I was carrying.
As someone who has been fortunate never to battle with depression, I imagined that this is what the Black Dog might feel like, and that scared me.
But it wasn’t really the number of things that weighed me down so heavily; rather it was the kind of things, particularly at work.
I’ll explain. Hands up who loves writing suitability reports? There will be some of you who do and that’s great. I don’t but I’d convinced myself that I was the best person for the job. There were several tasks like this that I held onto far too tightly, but which piled up to make me not want to go to the office each morning.
I really am my own worst enemy. Like many high achievers, I believed that I could carry everything, powering through the tasks I didn’t enjoy as a necessary evil, to try and get to the things I did enjoy.
The problem was that there were just too many unenjoyable tasks that there was never any time for the good stuff.
The turning point came when I had to start yet another suitability report for a client, but hadn’t managed to get to it before I had to leave for a week in London. I had vague ideas about getting it done while I was away, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen and that I’d have to do it as soon as I got back.
I really am my own worst enemy
I was checking email in my hotel room when I received a message from Demi, our new trainee adviser, telling me that she hoped I didn’t mind, but that she’d had a crack at the report for me. I don’t mind admitting that I nearly wept. It was damn-near perfect, with only a couple of small amendments to make before firing it back to Demi for sending to the client.
I felt a weight lift, swiftly followed by an overwhelming sense of my own stupidity. I thought I had things pretty sorted. I felt like I was at the top of my game in many respects, when, in fact, it had taken me this long to learn the simple art of delegation.
Now I’m obsessed. For every task I have to do, I ask myself if I am the best person to do it. If not, it gets passed on to the best person. My workload is much relieved, I’m less stressed and I even managed to carve out two whole weeks at the beginning of the year to finish my book, which is due to be published in a couple of months.
Those two weeks of pure creativity have made me realise that’s what I’m really good at and I need to devote more time to creating content. I’m now working with my colleagues to see how we can gradually move the business so it is a lot less dependent on me serving clients.
Honestly, I feel like an idiot, admitting that I have only just learned such a simple life skill as effective delegation. But I figured if I was struggling, some of you may be too. These days, there are many ways to delegate effectively without needing to hire people to work directly for you. Virtual assistants can help in various ways and are a stepping stone towards employing someone yourself one day.
So don’t drown under the weight of work that someone else would be better suited to doing. Learn to hand things over and enjoy doing the work best suited to your unique talents.
Pete Matthew is managing director of Jacksons Wealth