Creating Structure for Independent Agents
For many independent insurance agents, part of the upside is freedom from other people’s rules. When you work for yourself, there are no tedious expense forms to fill out and get approved by a bean-counting CFO, and you don’t get side eye from your colleague when you take a long lunch.
Your work life can feel much easier when you don’t have someone else telling you what to do. But it can also feel much harder. Managing time can be a real challenge, because if there’s no existing structure, it means you have to create one yourself.
Whether you just want to tweak your current time-management structure or desperately need to establish one, these seven steps can help you better manage your time as an independent insurance agent.
1. Make a List
Start by writing down all of the tasks that must be done to run your independent agency. Sounds simple enough, right? Well unless you’ve done it before, making a comprehensive list is probably going to take you a few days, because you’ll remember more tasks as you go.
It may help to think about your work in departments like a large agency would: sales, marketing, HR, accounting, etc. Then try to think about it in terms of time of year: when do contracts come due that you may want to shop or renegotiate (for software or a leased vehicle, for example) or what accounting deadlines do you need to meet (like quarterly and annual tax payments)? How often do you want to reach out to your clients with marketing emails—one month before their policy renewals?
Revisit your list a few times and try to think about what else you might be missing. When you run out of tasks to add, it’s time to move to the next step.
2. Categorize Tasks
Now you can categorize each task’s importance. Start by identifying the Must-Dos—the activities that must be accomplished for your independent agency to exist. Calling back leads, paying rent and filing taxes are all examples, as well as anything else that directly involves earning money or staying in compliance with federal, state and local laws.
For the rest of your list, you can take a slightly different approach. What’s a Should-Do versus a Want-To? You know having fresh leads is a good thing, but is generating them yourself something you like to do? If not, that’s a Should-Do. A Want-To, on the other hand, is a task that seems like a good idea but isn’t a necessity, like redecorating your office.
3. Assess Your Abilities
Now you can start moving each task under one of these two headers: Things Only I Can Do versus Things Someone Else Could Do. Put the Must-Dos at the top underneath each of their respective headers.
4. Schedule Your Must-Dos
This may be the easiest part of this exercise: anything that is both a Must-Do and a Thing Only I Can Do needs to go on your schedule, so block time and set up recurring events as needed. It may help to mark them in some way as being important (e.g., take advantage of color coding, USE CAPITAL LETTERS, etc.) Know that these tasks are non-negotiable and make a commitment to yourself and your business that you will tackle them as they come up.
5. Alternate Should-Dos and Want-Tos
From here you’ve got more wiggle room. Look at your Should-Dos and try to rank them according to importance to your business—how much time will they take and how much do you dislike doing them yourself? What’s going to give you the best return on investment in terms of both how each task will affect your bottom line and how much time it takes to complete? How much would each one cost to offload? What can you afford?
If you have enough funds, you can pay others to do all of your Should-Dos. More likely, though, you’re going to have to negotiate with yourself and take on some of the Should-Dos. In that case, alternating Should-Dos with Want-Tos on your calendar can make them more palatable.
For the Should-Dos that you can afford to outsource, go ahead and do it right away. You will then have more room to focus on other priorities on both your calendar and in your headspace.
6. Build in Flex Time
As you start filling in your calendar with Should-Do and Want-To tasks, leave some space between calendar events, and be sure to include at least one good-sized block of flex time each week (three hours or more if possible). This will help you absorb the inevitable curveballs that life will throw at you.
7. Schedule Rewards
Don’t forget to reward yourself for a job well done, especially when you complete a task that you don’t especially enjoy. Make a list of small treats for shorter ongoing tasks: maybe a mocha cappuccino from your favorite coffee shop, 15 minutes scrolling social media, or some playtime outside with your dog. Then make another list of nicer treats for when you complete larger or more complex tasks or projects: a new pair of shoes, a cool tech gizmo for your office or a weekend hiking trip. Knowing there’s a treat at the end creates a positive association that can help motivate you to stay on track.
Hometown Quotes exists to take care of one of the tasks that should be on every insurance agent’s list—getting new leads. Our leads are generated in real-time from a pool of online shoppers who have been vetted and are looking for an insurance quote. Give us a call at 800.820.8921 to learn more about our process and the filters you can apply to get targeted, fresh leads in your area.