October 19, 2019

Adjusters — Defend Your Calendar with these 4 Tactics!

I’ve often heard the adage, “If you want to discern somebody’s priorities, you should look at their checkbook and their calendar.”

Calendar

Here, let’s focus on the latter part of that two-pronged test.

Adjusters often find themselves pushed and pulled by forces outside themselves that intrude on their limited amount of time to work files and accomplish claim-related tasks and projects. In many offices, coworkers or others can unilaterally schedule and block out time with the adjuster. In addition, adjusters have discretion over appointments and other commitments that they place on their calendars. It is common for coworkers and bosses to be able to go online and view the calendar of a claims person within a busy claims office.

In terms of attaining optimal productivity and effectiveness, however, adjusters often lose sight of the calendar as a useful tool. Often, adjusters just play defense in defending their time against the incursions of meetings, conferences, interruptions, and other distractions.

To be sure, many of these are unavoidable and inherent in the very work that adjusters do. Nevertheless, adjusters have tools at their disposal to proactively use their work calendars in order to facilitate their productivity and effectiveness. Here are four tactics:

#1.  Get proactive about your own calendar.  Don’t just view your calendar as a passive receptacle for meetings and appointments. Proactively block out time that you need for your own claim-related work and projects.  projects. Treat it like an inviolable appointment. 

Unfortunately, many claim professionals feel uneasy blocking out time for ourselves on our calendar. It feels selfish. We have become so conditioned to doing a calendar as simply a place to memorialize commitments that others impose on us: meetings, appointments, etc. Again, calendars should be used for this purpose, but you should not just play defense.  Play offense in proactively blocking out time on your calendar that you need to get work done. Don’t view it as selfish but as a necessary discipline that you need to embrace in order to accomplish your goals.

Surely, like any other discipline, it can be overdone. You don’t block out so much time that you leave no breathing room in your schedule and no margin for the inevitable crises and other “unforeseeables” which can arise in the course of a busy day in a typical claims operation.

            #2.  Be a gatekeeper regarding other’s entering your calendar.  Determine if there is some way that you can either prevent others from scheduling time on your calendar or at least creating the option of needing to review and approve before its placement on your calendar.

            #3.  Set “self-appointments” for 90 minutes, max.  If you make an appointment with yourself to work on a project, limit that-block to a maximum of 90 minutes. If you block out two, three or four hours at a time, others will see it skeptically just and likely not believe that you are genuinely using that for work-related project related purposes. You lose credibility.  Moreover, you may not be unable to sustain focus attention for longer than 90 minutes.

            #4.  Honor your time commitment for self-appointments.  If you make an appointment with yourself to work on a claims project, performance appraisal preparation, etc. honor that time block. The temptation will be to use that time to catch up on e-mails, incoming mail, etc. This will not do you much good. Honor the time commitment by focusing on that task and that task alone for 30, 60 or 90 minute block that you have set aside.

Calendar management is a key skill that effective claim professionals must possess, whether they are in entry level adjuster for the senior vice president of claims and a corporate home office. It is a skill often untaught, but is instead presumed.

Get the most out of your calendar by using it not only as a reminder system for appointments and meetings, but also as an intentional tool for focusing your daily energies on your specific claim-related goals, tasks and accountabilities!

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