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How To Manage a Work-Life Balance Selling Insurance as an Independent Agent

Insurance Agent Development
Jul 27, 2021
12
minute read
Nectar Team
How To Manage a Work-Life Balance Selling Insurance as an Independent Agent

Working as an independent insurance agent can be a rewarding career. You get to be your own boss, set your own hours, and do things your way. It's an excellent opportunity to earn money doing something you enjoy — helping people.  

But being your own boss can bleed over into your personal life. You might want to play with your kids, but you find yourself telling them you can't right now because you have to finish something real quick. That "quick" task turns into something else and then another thing. Before you know it, the day's gone, and you never got to play that game with your little ones.  

Balancing work with personal life is even more complicated when you have a regular job and are trying to sell insurance on the side. Working from home as an independent agent blurs that line completely, making it almost impossible to separate the personal from the professional. The two aspects of your life often become tangled, which can frustrate you, your partner or spouse, your kids, and your friends.  

You may have chosen to become an independent agent to run your life the way you want, and that's commendable. Don't let your job run your life for you. It's time to start taking control by creating a better work-life balance.  

Set 'Office' Hours

When you work a regular job outside of the house, you have set hours. When you leave for the day, that's it. You can typically shift your mindset to your personal life — your partner, kids, pets, or friends. You're not distracted by answering phone calls, assisting clients, or closing deals.  

As an independent insurance agent, making that distinction can be more of a challenge. There's a temptation to answer a call or respond to an email while you're cooking dinner or tucking the kids into bed. After all, you want to provide exceptional customer service, and one of the best ways to do that is by being responsive.  

If you have a large block of time — say 10 to 12 hours — it's easy to waste a lot of that time. Instead, establish set "office" hours that you're willing to work, and work as hard as you can during those hours.  

Don't try to commit to too much time either. Sometimes it's possible to get more done in less time. For example, if you know you have only five or six hours to get things done, you'll likely be much more willing to buckle down during that time. As opposed to committing to 10 hours or more, you'll be more likely to get distracted and burned out. With good time management techniques, you can focus on making every minute count and be more productive.  

One thing to keep in mind is that your hours may change seasonally depending on the types of insurance products you sell. For instance, if you sell health insurance, you may work only four hours a day before the open enrollment period. Once open enrollment begins, you might need to work eight hours or more per day. When it ends, you'll likely go back to your original schedule.

Even if you have to tack on a few extra hours seasonally, be sure that you stick to a set schedule and resume your regular schedule when things go back to normal.  

Block Out Your Time

Time blocking is a practice in which you arrange your day into large blocks of time. It can help to promote a healthier work-life integration, reduce stress, and improve efficiency. Rather than working in small chunks of time, which allow for distractions — especially if you haven't planned out your day thoroughly — you focus on one individual project before moving on to the next.  

With time blocking, you become more aware of your availability. It allows you to see what time you actually have available to do certain things. As such, it gives you the ability to say "no" to projects you don't have time for. It also allows you to block out personal time while you're scheduling out your work.  

How To Block Out Your Time

Time blocking is a fairly simple concept, but you should have a solid idea of how it works before you start. Here are a few tips:

Know When You Work Best

Block out time for your most difficult work when you know you're most productive. Whether you're a morning person, a night owl, or someone who works best right after lunch, that's when you should tackle your most challenging projects.  

At the same time, you'll also need to know how long it takes to get specific tasks done. Be careful that you don't underestimate. Give yourself a bit of leeway or a buffer between blocks in case something comes up or a project ends up taking longer than initially expected.  

Choose a Time Blocking Method

Everyone has different types of work they need to manage. The type of work will influence the time blocking method you select. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Standard blocking. You plan blocks for work you'll complete on a given day. It'll also include deep work (more on that in a moment).  
  • Day blocking. You devote an entire day to working on a particular project.
  • Task grouping. You group similar tasks together in a single block to save time and avoid distractions.  
  • Task time limits. You set time limits on the tasks you do during the day. ‌

Schedule Deep Work

Deep work is a concept created by Cal Newport. It involves turning off all distractions and focusing solely on the tasks at hand. The last thing you want during deep work is to be interrupted. Any distractions destroy it. You'll need to put in more time and energy to get back (and stay) on track.  

If there's deep work — which requires your full, undivided attention — then there's also shallow work, which is all the small, busy tasks that don't require much concentration. It includes checking emails, sending invoices, or taking care of paperwork. While these tasks can take a significant amount of time, they don't require the same level of focus as deep work does.  

Don't Forget About Non-Work Times

‌An important thing to keep in mind is that you don't want to schedule free time like you schedule work. That can ruin your enjoyment of your free time by turning it into one of your "to-dos."  

Instead, build your schedule with your personal life in mind. Be sure to build in breaks and have a set cut-off time to end your workday. Also, make sure to include "blank" blocks in case something runs over, pops up, or needs to be rescheduled.  

Keep Your Business Separate from Your Personal Life

If you're the type of person who always thinks about work and always wants to be involved in it, you're not alone. While this may be fine in certain situations, in most cases, you need to be able to walk away from your desk when your "office" hours end.  

At first, you might find it difficult, or almost impossible, but you need to shut off your phone, close your computer, and walk away from your work. Don't give in to the temptation to check work emails or voicemails. Give that time to your family or friends.  

As you grow your insurance business, you might start to find it more challenging to keep your work and personal lives separate. It could become harder to keep the reasonable hours you established. You have more work to do and more clients to serve. There's a lot of pressure to meet their demands. If you're beginning to struggle with keeping your personal and professional lives apart, it might be time to consider outsourcing.

Outsource Tasks That Don't Make You Money

Don't be afraid to ask for help. As you grow your business, you can become overwhelmed trying to manage all your clients yourself. As much as you might want to continue doing things on your own, doing everything yourself isn't always possible — and that's OK.  

As you grow, consider hiring an assistant. In today's digital world, you can even hire a virtual one on an as-needed basis. Find someone to help you weekly or monthly with the things you don't have time to do. Start by making a list of the tasks that make you money. Then make a second list of the items you have to do that don't make you any money — outsource those to your assistant. That way, you can focus on your customers and the things that bring in revenue.  

Not sure what to outsource? Here are a few things you might consider handing off to an assistant:

  • Managing intake calls
  • Claims management
  • Report creation
  • Sending applications
  • Data entry
  • Informing clients of policy changes or pending cancellations
  • Creating monthly newsletters
  • Auditing files for compliance purposes

If you're uncertain about hiring a regular assistant, consider a virtual one. A virtual assistant doesn't have to be a full-time employee. They can be part-time individuals who work remotely. That way, you can keep hiring easy, and you don't have to worry about creating a shared office space. You can continue to work from home until you're ready to grow your business, find an office outside of your house, and hire people full-time.  

Still not entirely sold on the idea of outsourcing? Imagine what saving 10 to 20 hours a week could do for you. When you're not wading through small tasks that have nothing to do with customer service, signing clients, or making money, you can be more productive in less time. That translates to more time for your family and friends. Sure, it can feel awkward delegating tasks to someone else, but doing so can ultimately save your sanity and your relationships.  

Leverage Technology

Technology makes life easier. You can also use it to make your job easier. Take a few minutes to think of all the day-to-day tasks you don't enjoy doing. Then look online to see what tools might help make those tasks easier.  

Learning a new technology might seem counterintuitive at first. You have to spend time figuring it out, which can appear time-consuming. However, if you stick with it, it'll eventually save you time and make running your business significantly smoother.  

Here are a few tools to consider:

CRM Software

A customer relationship management (CRM) system minimizes your need for external notes. It integrates essential facts and information and stores vital data for future use. The less time you spend looking for information, the more time you have for making sales. Top CRM tools include NextAgency and Zendesk Sell.  

Appointment Scheduling Software

Calling clients to reschedule appointments or coordinating schedules to fit new clients can take hours. Appointment scheduling software helps to tighten your processes. It also integrates your existing calendar, so you don't need to worry about updating anything. Consider using programs such as Calendly, Acuity Scheduling, or Appointy.

E-Signature Software

With e-signature software, you can save a lot of time while also reducing costs, decreasing turnaround times, and improving service delivery. Additionally, you don't need to worry about filing physical documents or other paperwork. Everything's stored digitally. Some tools to try include PandaDoc, DocuSign, or signNow.

Tax Expense Tracker

Taxes are confusing enough. In a business, things can get even more complicated. A tax expense tracker can streamline the process of tracking expenses for tax purposes as well as the process for utilizing that data in accounting software for tax season. FreshBooks, Everlance, and Expensify can all help.  

Social Media Automation

You might be an independent insurance agent, but you're still a business. Social media has become an incredible tool for helping businesses of all sizes reach more potential clients. It offers a platform to share your expertise and establish yourself as an authority in your industry.

It can take time to curate content and post it to your accounts. Social media automation software enables you to share content to multiple accounts at the same time from a single dashboard, simplifying the process and saving you time. You can use tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, or Sprout Social.

Practice Self-Discipline

If you never practice time management for sales professionals, you'll never be able to separate your personal life from your business. If you've been selling insurance for a while, you have a good understanding of how to plan your day. It's time to become a time management expert.  

You already know the importance of spending time with family and friends. You know that you need to set specific working hours and walk away when your workday is over. Even if you work from another room in your home, you need to exercise self-discipline and turn off your work mode. Implementing time management strategies can help keep you on track.  

Shut off your cell phone and close all the work-related programs on your computer. Better yet, leave your work computer in the area where you work. If you feel tempted to check something work-related, let it go. Just make sure your clients know what your working hours are. You still want to respond promptly to their inquiries, but don't let them run your life.  

If someone sends an email or calls after hours, take care of it first thing when you're back in the office. When scheduling your days, build in time to address emails and calls that came in when you weren't working. You don't have to respond the instant you receive an inquiry. You're human, and you deserve to spend time with your loved ones just like anyone else does.  

Give Yourself Rewards

Establish realistic and consistent goals that you can achieve each week that contribute to the overall goals of your insurance business. When you hit those goals, reward yourself. For instance, give yourself a little time off at the end of the week or the beginning of the following week.  

While a small reward such as this can help keep some individuals motivated, it doesn't necessarily work for everyone. Some people prefer to keep their regular schedules so they can keep going and get ahead. Doing so can help to offset underachieving weeks in the future, keeping you on track for overall success.  

Find a system that works best for you. If you want to reward yourself but don't want to take time off, consider something that fits your preferences. For instance, maybe you do a movie night with your family or go out to dinner with friends during your off time instead.  

Let Nectar Help

As an independent insurance agent, one of your top goals is likely to build a long-term career in the industry. The trick is to do it without burning yourself out, which can leave you feeling stressed and constantly exhausted. Those feelings can pour over into your personal life, affecting your relationships with your family and friends.  

You could lose your motivation, too, which could harm your business and its growth. Understanding how to improve time management is essential for setting yourself up for a better career.  

If you find that you're spending a little too much time trying to generate quality leads and not enough time making sales, consider letting Nectar help you out. Nectar offers high-quality, real-time insurance leads for health, life, homeowners, auto, and Medicare insurance.

Nectar doesn't purchase third-party leads only to turn around and resell them to you. Instead, Nectar utilizes several marketing methods through various websites to find high-intent shoppers. When those shoppers match your criteria, Nectar brings you together so that you can close the sale.  

When the right shoppers are connected with the best insurance agents for them, both parties win. The customer receives personal, excellent service, and you receive a quality client. It doesn't get much better than that.

While you might feel compelled to do everything yourself, you don't have to. Trying to shoulder every aspect of being a successful insurance agent can be challenging and stressful — not to mention that it can have an impact on your personal life. Leave some of the work for Nectar so you can focus on providing quality customer service and closing sales. Your clients, family, and friends will thank you.

Are you ready to get started generating high-quality leads? Sign up with Nectar and get started today!

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This article reflects the features of Nectar as of the date of publication. Features are subject to change at any time. This article is meant for informational purposes only, it is not a guarantee that using Nectar will help you achieve specific business or financial results and is not intended to serve as the sole recommendation for any business financial decisions.

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