Financial services pros are busy people. A full day includes the primary directive of supporting current customers, but also maintaining snowdrifts of paperwork, doing research, cold calling prospects and other administrative work that usurps valuable client time.

On top of this teetering to-do list, add social media activity, an updated web presence, email marketing and compliance concerns, and you have an overwhelming, unsustainable schedule.

Struggling with inefficiency is nothing new for sales-oriented professions. An Accenture report found that sales representatives spend just 36 percent of their time on customer-facing activities; the rest is taken up by post-sales tasks (20 percent), administrative work (17 percent), prospecting (15 percent) and other (12 percent).

There’s more to accomplish than is humanly possible, which is precisely why advisors and agents need to automate low-order tasks to free up time for personal interactions.

Efficiency hacks 101 (easy)

There are a few efficiency hacks that many are likely already using. Nonetheless, they are well worth reviewing: 

1. Set up Google Alerts

Google Alerts are a simple, free way to have Google monitor the web for news and other content based on a key phrase, company name or trend that’s relevant for you and your clients. Alerts can be tailored to region, language, frequency and more. Set them up once, and get timely, relevant information delivered right to you.

2. Respond to big news digitally

When Google alerts you to a headline that might cause clients to be concerned, proactively sending a reassuring email, posting a message on social media, or shooting off a quick text message can reduce the number of individual calls and questions you’ll likely get. Soon after the Brexit decision, one financial advisor I know quickly sent out an email to her clients responding to the uncertainty and volatility the markets might experience. It was an incredibly effective way of getting ahead of the noise through digital means. 

3. Schedule social media posts

All those “always on” social media mavens, whose Twitter feeds resemble a river, rather than a sputtering brook? They’re not spending as much time on it as you think. Dedicate a few moments throughout the week to find content to share — setting up the Facebook and Twitter lists described below will make this part a lot faster and easier — and schedule all your posts ahead of time.

Efficiency hacks 401 (advanced)

After mastering the basics, there are a few more tips that not all advisors may have thought of:

4. Create Facebook and Twitter lists

One of the great aspects of social media is it’s always changing, which can allow for serendipity. But that also means important posts and content can get lost in the shuffle. Customizing lists of select thought leaders and news sources will reduce time spent scrolling through noisy feeds filled with gifs and food photos, and help you find relevant, informative content. Learn how to set up Facebook lists and Twitter lists.

5. Automate appointments

Instead of playing phone tag or spinning a long email string trying to schedule a meeting, consider saving time by using a tool like timetrade. Your mutually available times are automatically displayed, so you can spend more time meeting clients and prospects, and less time coordinating logistics.

6. Leverage virtual meetings

Meeting electronically may not make sense for every relationship, but using web conferencing software such as WebExGoToMeeting or Join.me can be a great substitute for more technologically inclined contacts. This can dramatically reduce travel time away from important tasks for both advisors and clients.

7. Automate your to-do lists

The holy grail of automation is predictive analytics — finding what behaviors result in closing deals in the shortest amount of time. Having a tool in place to mine digital customer data for buying signals can literally tell you what you need to do next. Removing the guesswork from the sales cycle can make the process less circuitous, more scientific and much quicker.

Integrate these hacks into your day-to-day routine, redirect that lost time into growing your book of business, and make automation work for you, not against.