With the Annual Enrollment Period underway, agents undoubtedly feel a lot of pressure to stay productive during Medicare’s biggest selling season.
We’ve put together some ideas to manage your stress and avoid burnout during your busy season.
Nurture Basic Health
It’s easy to feel like production numbers are all that matters during AEP. However, neglecting your basic health needs — eating, sleeping, and exercise — can have extremely detrimental effects on your body. The Mayo Clinic offers these guidelines for maintaining your body’s energy levels and immune system:
- 10 to 20 minutes of quiet reflection/meditation per day
- 30 minutes of exercise per day
- 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night
- Lots of fruit, veggies, and whole grains every day
Once the essentials are taken care of, you can dive deeper into understanding your own stress and finding long-term ways to manage it. For example, think about what frustrated you last enrollment season (e.g., broken printer, long commutes to appointments) and how you can avoid it this year.
Keep a record of your successes in a gratitude journal and read it whenever you feel like things aren’t going well. Alternatively, you could create red and green jars (or use tissue boxes) and put notes in each about what went well and what didn’t. Be sure to hang onto either project so you can remember what worked best — or which mistakes to avoid — come next busy season.
Keep a success journal and read it when you feel like things aren’t going well.
Try to avoid negative “self-talk” habits like catastrophizing and all-or-nothing thinking. You may have some unsuccessful appointments or bad days, but it doesn’t mean you’re a complete failure at your job. Keep sending yourself positive thoughts in times of stress! For more guidance, check out these positive self-talk tips from the American Heart Association.
You may have unsuccessful appointments or bad days but it doesn’t mean you’re a failure.
If you spent time preparing for AEP — reviewing CMS rules, learning new plan details, and organizing leads — you can feel confident that you’re off to a good start.
So now that you’re here, try to resist the urge to work constantly by maintaining a defined schedule. Around 47 percent of people use a mobile application for checking their email. Allow yourself to wait until tomorrow morning to respond to messages you get later at night. It’s a good idea to schedule administration days once a week where you can catch up on paperwork, schedule appointments, and plan for upcoming meetings.
Also, save time by utilizing Ritter’s free and customizable client outreach templates to make checking in with clients easier. And don’t forget to stock up on supplies: enrollment kits, printer ink, folders, pens, etc. Even the little things can cause a breakdown when you’re already feeling stressed!
Save time by utilizing customizable client outreach templates.
Budgeting and compensation can also be a stressful part of AEP. CMS rules mandate that all sales made during open enrollment won’t be paid out until January when new plans take effect. If your Scope of Appointment allows, cross-sell ancillary products for a faster payday.
Finally, consider starting or joining an agent support group — even if it’s just on Facebook or a small group text message. Ritter has its own Facebook group for insurance agents! Check out Ritter’s Round Table on Facebook!
Utilize Technology for Insurance Agents
When every enrollment counts, your stress levels are bound to reflect your understanding of carrier and consumer tools.
Encourage your clients to create Shop & Enroll consumer accounts. These records are shared between you and your clients and store all the info you need to quickly generate tailored quotes and prefilled enrollment applications. Also, using electronic applications, like FastTrack prefilled enrollment apps, can save you time and help avoid errors and the need to redo applications because of poor handwriting or missing information.
Having reliable sales tools, especially if they’re located all in one place, will surely relieve some of the stress of the busy season. We’ve compiled all of our industry-leading tools and resources onto one user-friendly interface — the Ritter Platform. Acting as a high-functioning customer relationship management (CRM) system, the Platform houses everything you need from our Medicare Quote Engine, with a built in Drug Cost Estimator and Provider Lookup feature, to contracting and commissions insight, and more. The Platform makes managing your business seamless, so you have more time to meet with clients and close sales!
Worried about commuting to appointments? Download a navigation app such as Google Maps or Waze to more accurately predict how long it will take you to get there. Waze allows you to schedule a trip ahead of time, then they send you a notification alerting you when it’s time to leave. You can also lighten the mood of your commute by changing the Waze navigation voice — featured celebrities have included Morgan Freeman, Shaquille O’Neal, Colonel Sanders, and Darth Vader.
Have Some Fun
It’s important to take a time out once in a while during AEP to avoid burnout. According to the Mayo Clinic, simply laughing can have significant short- and long-term effects on improving stress. Laughter can stimulate breathing, reset your stress response, ease muscle tension, improve your immune system, and elevate your mood. So go ahead — treat yourself to a little fun time this AEP!
Below are a few guilt-free ideas. Just be sure you use them as a reward for working hard and not as a way to procrastinate!
- Indulge in an entertainment break — watch a movie or go out for a drink with friends.
- Practice a hobby or gain the satisfaction of completing a project you can finish in a couple of hours — maybe save bathroom demo for another day.
- Find some inner peace — go for a hike, take a nap, do yoga, or simply leave your phone on silent for an hour.
- Play with a pet — numerous studies have supported the positive healing effects of animals on stress relief. According to a report by Harvard Medical School, spending time with a pet can lower blood pressure, improve psychological well-being, and boost self-esteem.
- Plan fun events for your staff — schedule a happy hour, yoga class, or catered lunch. (Bringing in pizza has been proven to boost employee productivity.
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While AEP is certainly an important time to be productive and work hard, too much stress will only leave you feeling burnt out and wanting to quit.
Don’t forget to turn off once in a while and have some fun this AEP — you deserve it!
Incorporate some of our strategies to work smarter and take advantage of technology to expedite the client side of things. However, don’t forget to show yourself a little TLC, too. Pay attention to your basic health needs, and don’t forget to “turn off” once in a while and have some fun as well! You deserve it.
Editor’s Note: This was originally published in November 2016. It has been updated to include more relevant information.