Does Your Day Have a Hot List AND a Not List?

by Certified Coach Alissa Gauger, MBA

What are you NOT going to do today? I bet that's not a list that you've ever written! How much of your day is spent doing things that you later wish you had not spent time on?


We each begin every day with a new allotment of mental energy. If you think of this like a full tank of gasoline in a car how would you use it to your best advantage? Would you drive aimlessly and respond to every distraction? If so, what would be the outcome? 

Conversely, what if you plot your destination and stay focused on where you're going? You would choose to ignore many options along the way that would take you off course.

Most Financial Advisors (FRs) do not treat their mental energy like the precious and finite resource that it is. Try writing a "Not List" and a "Hot List." Items on both lists should be highly actionable tasks. Here's an example:

Today's Not ListCheck email continuously (limit to checking only at 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.)Organize email in-boxDo client service requests as they come in Accept "pop in" meetings from fellow FRsBrowse the internet frequently (instead, do so only during planned breaks)

Today's Hot List Ten dialsReturn client calls (2)Prospect in all three meetingsSet one Center of Influence (COI) meetingCall A+ prospect (that you've been putting off?)Finish case notes before leaving

Write the Not List and the Hot List on a whiteboard or in another easily updatable format such as a spreadsheet that you can keep open.

Next, every morning while you still have your full tank of energy tackle the actionable items on the Hot List first. At the beginning of every day you have the most diverse types of mental energy available to you in the greatest quantities that you will experience for the day. Check off all of your accomplishments and leave it in plain sight to remind you of your progress.

Also, keep your Not List very visible. It may take a little practice avoiding the Not List items that you may have become accustomed to doing a lot. Many of these are likely emotional decoys. You may find yourself doing things such as sorting your emails or browsing the internet to avoid doing work that challenges you, frustrates you, or causes you anxiety. By hiding out in low-risk activities you will appear and feel busy, however you are not moving the needle.

What are you NOT doing today?

Coaching Tip Emotional decoys allow us to avoid feeling our feelings, taking chances and challenging ourselves. They may appear very innocent. You may find yourself deep in an e-filing project only to relay to realize you were avoiding calling several A+ prospects who made you feel inadequate. Instead of using an emotional decoy to numb your feelings try asking yourself "what am I feeling right now?" If you can acknowledge the feeling, then see if you can allow yourself to really feel it. It will likely move on right away as soon as you give it your full attention. Feeling your feelings is a powerful step in the direction of taking true ownership of your life.